Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Simple information you may not be aware of... Part 2.

Employees do not make up prices.
You see, there are these things that we in the retail business refer to as "corporate". "Corporate" involves people like the VP of finance, or the VP of pricing, or the president, owner, CEO, etc... People who make money from our retail establishment. These people who work in "corporate" decide what to charge for which item. That is because these people make all the profit from these items.
Employees do not care if you shop somewhere else.
I realize that I covered this in part 1, but it bears mentioning again. You see, we get paid the exact same regardless of what you buy, how much you buy, or where you buy. True, it is important for us to make sales goals, but again, that mostly matters to "corporate".
When you ask for something unreasonable, we will blame "corporate".
Okay, this is a confession. When you are asking for something unreasonable, or something we can't do out of policy, and you refuse to accept our answer of "It is against policy", the next thing we do is blame "corporate". 99% of the people we deal with will drop it if we claim that "corporate" prohibits that particular action. For instance, every eleventh or so customer will ask us to heat up their cookie. We don't do that. For one thing, we have a commercial oven that has two settings, on and off. We have a pretzel machine that puts trays through for five minutes at 500 degrees. Those are the only heating equipment that we have. Aside from the inappropriateness of that equipment for the task of heating their one cookie, imagine how much time we would have to spend heating everyones cookies. So we just blame "corporate".
The squeaky wheel does not always get the grease.
Point of fact: When my wheel starts squeaking, I take it off, get a new wheel, and throw the old wheel in the junkyard. Then I grease all the non-squeaky wheels just to spite the squeaky wheel. That is what will happen to you if you attempt to get something for free by being a jerk, sans the junkyard. I'll ignore you, and then something away to the little girl who politely asks for an Icee, and then tries to pay.

All for now, part three to come.

And I have officially lost my cheerful customer service attitude.

After getting berated for every little thing numerous times a workday for the last three months, I no longer smile and cheerfully deal with all customers. People who greet me with a smile and a reasonable request receive cheerful, happy service. People who greet me with "You ain't got no pretzels left?!" and then proceed to sigh and act put upon because they can't wait 3 minutes while I make some more receive a blank, half-lidded stare, and blunt, to the point answers.

Understand, I don't hate my entire customer base, but there are just some people who shouldn't be allowed to function in society. We will have a line of 15 people, and be running around at a fairly frenetic pace to crank out pretzels as fast as our machines can (which is 4 every 4 minutes), and these people will see that we have no pretzels, and pitch a swearing fit about having to wait while we cook their pretzels. These same people will be furious if we have pretzels in the warmer, and they aren't "fresh" enough. Quite frankly, I've had pretzels that have been in the warmer for an hour. They taste fine. We usually sell them before an hour, but sometimes people get a not-brand-new pretzel. They will sigh, swear, whine, moan, even yell about having to wait. And of course, I always have to hear "I'm taking my business elsewhere!". Good, take your business elsewhere. I warn you now, if one more person flips out about having to wait to get a fresh pretzel, I'm going to throw butter at them.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Simple orders should stay simple.

I have two theories. The first theory is that the combination of bright lights and pretty colors cause these people's brains to misfire across the synapse. The other theory is that these are the dumbest folks in the world. I had a guy come up today with his two teenage sons and his wife. He says "I want a cinnamon pretzel and a bottle of water". I asked if he wanted anything else, and he replied that he just wanted that. So I put a tray in the oven and his wife decides that she wants a salt pretzel. Then his other son decides he wants a pretzel, and we do this for 10 minutes. One by one, I finally get his order. It would have been easier (and faster) had he just said "Hi, I'd like 2 cinnamon pretzels, 2 salt pretzels, 2 bottles of water and a medium Dr. Pepper". That took me 5 seconds to type, probably 4 seconds to say. He was nice about it though, so I wasn't too annoyed at him.
People on their phones though, they annoy the heck out of us. People will walk up to the cookie counter, yammering on their cell "Yeah sister, then I said screw you! and she was all no, go to hell! And then I was like..." and so on and so forth. The killing part about it though, is these people get mad when we politely wait for them to finish their conversation. They'll break off mid-conversation and say "... Oh and then she - hang on sister, I gotta make my order", snap the phone away from their mouth and say "'scuse me! SCUSE ME!! Can I get a cookie puh-leeze?!" As though we were rudely ignoring them. Then return to their conversation. God forbid we address them during their conversation, then they turn away and tell the person on the other end how rude we are for interrupting. The people on the phones annoy the hell out of me, but it's the people that come up 20 minutes before close, see parts of the store are shut down, and then get mad about being unable to order items from that area. Here, just to clarify, pretzel machine goes off an hour before close, pretzel storage is turned off 30 minutes to close. This means that you can not get pretzels after 8:30 pm (5:30 on Sunday). Specialty items are put/thrown away 15 minutes to close, and when the register is shut down, we are closed. EVERY NIGHT these people will come to the store at 8:50 pm (10 minutes to close), and get angry about the fact that we will not make them a pretzel. They get all huffy and bitter, and storm away. Look folks, you can't go to outback steakhouse before 4:00 pm, you can't order breakfast at McDonalds after 10:45 am, and you can't get pretzels after 8:30! At least not from us. We can see you coming on the camera. I swear, we call it when we see you coming. "They want pretzels." "Watch, these fools gonna ask for something in the Merlin (storage unit)." We will be closed, and people will still get mad. They either expect us to give them stuff for free, or magically ring them up with a closed out register. Look, we have homes and families too, and we would like to see them. Don't be one of these fools. when a business begins to announce that they are beginning to close, leave.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Simple information you may not be aware of... Part 1.

1: Do not ever say "No one in the world does (insert item here)".
Chances are, you are wrong. For instance, just a couple of days ago I informed someone that a refill would cost $0.32. His response was "No one in the world charges for refills!" Despite the fact that I can think of several places (the movie theater, the on-campus chic-fil-a, and any place in Germany), I began to apologetically inform the gentleman that though it was not my policy, I was required to charge for refills. Before I could get "I'm sorry sir, but", he angrily stated "Last time I buy from you!" and stormed away. Which brings me to my next point:
2: Do not tell the employee that you will not buy from them in an attempt to make them do as you wish.
The employee is in no way bothered by your lack of return visits, and after this pompous display of your hindquarters will take great delight in your discontinued presence.
3: Do not over-estimate your purchasing power.
Don't misunderstand, you have purchasing power, and lots of it. But after spending an inordinate amount of time in the establishment only to purchase an item for approximately $0.75 does not make you equal to Bill Gates. This is especially important when considering point number four:
4: Sparingly use the sentence "Well, you've just lost my business."
And while I'm at it, lose the indignant tone. Save it for those instances when someone has truly done something deserving. Refusal to meet your demands for a freebie or a discount is not a valid excuse for you to exercise your wrath. When you overuse the sentence, or worse yet, use it and then return the next day, it loses a lot of power. Mostly, it just makes you a liar. Next:
5: Do not be overly critical.
Every day we decorate somewhere between 4 to 14 cookie cakes. A lot of the time, especially in cases where a customer has been particularly... extravagant over decorations, we will spend extra time making the cake look as beautiful as possible. Believe it or not, we actually take pride in our work, and we are proud of exceptional cakes. We get excited, and look forward to you coming to pick it up so we can see the joyous look on your face. We anticipate a happy reaction. When you come in and complain about something, we want to throw your cake (like a big, iced frisbee) at you.
6: When someone does something nice for you, you thank them.
Just like above, we take pride in our work. We expect that you will appreciate it. After spending 15 to 30 minutes on your cake (most take 5 - 10 minutes), we expect that you will be happy. Squinting at the cake and saying something like "Well, I guess that will do..." or sighing and saying "It'll work.." does not inspire feelings of goodwill, nor does it give us warm fuzzies. However, being kind to us usually makes us feel that you are "cool", or at least a decent human being. While being rude tends to make us respond in kind (going out of our way to avoid giving you anything for free or discounted, taking the "minimal effort" approach, or even exercising our right to refuse service), being polite increases the chance that you might find yourself the recipient of discounts, freebies, extra effort, and cheerful service every time we see you.

This is all for part 1, part 2 will examine corporation structure and pricing models.

Introductions are in order.

My name is Tom. I have worked in retail since I was 17 years old. I have been, in order from first to last: A pharmacy technician (state licensed), a sales/service associate (print dept. at office depot), Mall security (Public Safety Officer), Loss Prevention (protection specialist), and now, cookie store employee (Asst. Manager). Over my soon to be six years of retail experience, I've learned quite a few things. I have decided to share with you some of the better things, teach you a few of the finer points of retail, and hold some fun contests (contestants will likely be unaware of these). You will be both educated and entertained... And possibly annoyed (or in the event you turn out to be similar to one of my "subjects", quite likely ashamed). So enjoy, and I'll be updating regularly.