What Underdog Teaches Us About Client Relationships

OK, maybe I’m showing my age, but when I was a young lad one of my favorite cartoons was Underdog.  I will admit that Super Chicken comes in a close second, but the genius of the daily Underdog installment was unrivaled.  For those of you too young to remember, or jaded by the lame movie version with Jim Belushi, here is the premise:

Underdog was a dog, and yet he was also a humble, lovable shoeshine boy.  As if it weren’t strange enough that a dog was shining shoes on the local street corner, this dog could also talk.  If that still doesn’t faze you, he could also get a secret energy pill out of a compartment in a ring that he wore (apparently he also had fingers as opposed to paws), swallow it, change into a costume with a big “U” emblazoned on his chest, and actually fly!  This prompted the onlookers to shout out in disbelief, “It’s a bird.  It’s a plane.  It’s a frog.  A frog?!”  In response to this, Underdog would reply, “Not bird, nor plane, nor even frog.  It’s just little old me, Underdog.”

Each episode Underdog was tasked with saving his poodle girlfriend, Sweet Polly Purebred (Seriously, I JUST got that!) from evildoers.  Every day I would think to myself, “That bitch is always getting herself into trouble.”  He saved her every time, without fail.

I love recounting memories of my childhood, but I’m sure you don’t care about that.  What’s important is the whole idea of Underdog.  He was humble and loveable, but when he needed to be, he was tough and heroic, swooping in to save the day.  Now think about how your business is seen by your clients.  You want to be good at doing what you do, shining shoes for instance, but still have humility.  Even if you know you’re good, you don’t have to tell everyone.  They will notice.

Next, you have to be prepared every once in a while to swoop in and save the day.  Clients get into trouble sometimes, and your ability to step in and help them out will solidify the trust and commitment that they have in your company.  Building this trust allows you to occasionally screw up and still be loved by your clients.  After all, you are humble and loveable.  A great lesson from your friendly neighborhood Underdog.

Now, there was one thing that always bugged me about the show’s opening sequence.  At the end of giving a customer a shine, the guy would flip the shoeshine boy (dog) a coin.  I assume that he was testing the coin and he would bite it and it would make a crunching sound.  I further postulated that he was testing whether the coin was real and everyone knows that fake coins are made of chocolate.  The irony is that dogs shouldn’t have chocolate because it could kill them.  Maybe I’m reading too much into it.  I don’t know…