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Moving up the Transformation Pyramid

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Last month I wrote about The Transformation Pyramid and used the coffee industry to demonstrate how value is increased as it moves up the pyramid from a commodity to a “good” to a service to an experience.But there’s one more level up even from that: transformation. This pinnacle is discussed as the final chapter of the book Experience Economy by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore. 

When our customers and teams experience transformation the value we offer makes another dramatic leap up. 

Let’s stick with the coffee example for just a bit longer and then I promise we’ll circle back and apply all this to our industry where I believe we have a unique opportunity to provide transformational experiences for our customers and teams. 

How can coffee be transformational? I have some friends who own a coffee company called Deeper Roots. Deeper Roots keeps close to the supply chain of all their coffee from knowing the farmers personally who grow it in Central and South America, where it starts as an undifferentiated commodity all the way through to the top of the pyramid and the end of the supply chain where it is served in their own brick-and-mortar cafe. 

What sets them apart from their many, many competitors is not price or even owning the cafe. What sets them apart is they have figured out how to make buying and selling coffee a transformational experience.   

Deeper Roots started by building a relationship with farmers in Guatemala—face to face. The growers were not unknown entities that grew coffee and then got taken advantage of by North American buyers so consumers could get the cheapest coffee possible. No. They met face to face with the farmers, got to know them and their families in their home country. They learned of the challenges of growing coffee beans that would eventually be exported to North America. They got to know them not as growers and producers, but as human beings who have interesting stories, as well as hopes and dreams of their own. They also heard some sad stories of how they were being taken advantage of because they could not package or roast what they grew and were restricted only to the lowest level of selling coffee as a commodity. In short, Deeper Roots came to realize that their newfound friends were being taken advantage of for lack of resources. 

With this knowledge and with deep care for the relationships, Deeper Roots helped set up the farmers with their own processing facility near their farm. The growers’ lives, their families and their livelihood were all transformed. And in the process, the owners of Deeper Roots Coffee were also transformed!  They are now on a mission to repeat this transformational experience in as many countries as they can. 

What does this have to do with body shops? We can’t necessarily control the supply chain or develop relationships with the actual producers of our parts, right?  

However, the opportunities for transformation all around us. In fact, unlike many other industries, we see transformations daily. Let’s look at a few spheres where this plays out daily.


One of my earliest memories of walking into my dad’s shop when I was a kid was a corkboard that had “before and after” pictures on it. I was mesmerized at what my dad and his team could accomplish! And that is one thing that we get to see daily: Cars and other vehicles are transformed daily from a state of complete disorder to a beautiful finale. The corkboard is gone now but the transformations have continued week in and week out for over 40 years at this shop and have expanded now to me and my sister’s multiple shops.  


We have the opportunity every day as leaders in our shops to transform our team member’s lives. Recently we had a young man in our shop for his first-ever summer job. As you might imagine, since he had no experience in the shop, he didn’t get all the fun jobs! It was trash, sweeping and cutting up cardboard. But I asked him what he wanted on his last day and he said a pizza party, donuts and a Nerf battle. So, we bought a bunch of pizza, donuts and enough Nerf guns for all the techs. Next thing you know, a Nerf battle breaks out of epic proportions and grown men are running and sliding all over the shop trying to dodge the Nerf “bullets.” Was his life transformed at that moment? Probably not. When people talk about how much they hated their summer jobs in his future, will he remember that we all took the time to celebrate him and have a lot of fun? Absolutely.


Early on, I partnered with a friend of mine to launch a rugby team. It was mostly an excuse to mentor young men in our neighborhood. And Joshua, the coach, took that role very seriously. He loves rugby but what he was really after was transforming young men’s lives. It started with a small donation that grew over the years as our shop grew. Fast forward to today, many of those young men got college scholarships to great schools because of rugby. Will they be playing rugby later in life? Again, probably not. But the jobs and opportunities that emerged because of rugby will last their whole lifetime. 

If you look closely, you will see opportunities for transformation all around you. How are you fostering transformation in your context? I’d love to hear about it! 

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