Lack of respect and courtesy cost business owner cold hard cash

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by Tom Watson on December 4, 2010

A while back I was in a sandwich shop ordering lunch. The shop was busy with patrons both ordering and picking up their meals.

This business employs many teenage kids, most probably working their first job ever.

I must say however it was running rather smoothly until I heard someone yelling a few feet away. It was the owner of the place screaming at one of the kids who was on the phone taking an order from a customer.

The temper tantrum lasted about ten seconds, which was more than enough time to get every one’s attention. This obviously changed the tone in the shop from friendly to “quiet”.

The kid who was getting yelled at was put in a no win situation. She had to both take phone orders and check people out at the register once they received their sandwich. No matter what she did, she was going to get yelled at. Either the line was going to get backed up or the phone wouldn’t get answered.

I remember thinking at the time just how big a fool the owner made himself look to the dozen or so people ordering lunch. If the owner only took the time to see the look of his customers faces when he was having his temper tantrum, maybe he would have learned something.

Dressing down an employee in front of customers is no way to “train” your staff. The negative karma this act created cast a cloud over his entire operation that day. It makes people uncomfortable, which is not what you want when your running a business.

The people standing around the counter waiting for service don’t need any more “drama” in their life. They don’t want to hear or witness any of this. They are just happy to be on their lunch break, ordering their favorite sandwich.

The lady in front of me, when checking out, told the girl at the register she would never order another sandwich again from this store. I rarely go there anymore myself, only out of necessity every now and again. If both me and the lady in front of me had that reaction, I bet there was another person in the crowd who felt the same way too.

Now you may think this is much ado about nothing, but I assure you it’s much more than that. As a leader, the owner of a business gets held to a higher standard. You need to lead by example, not by the strength of your voice. Your customers expect that from you, and you need to deliver it to them.

This poor girl got read the riot act in front of a group for no reason. She was put in a position to fail because her duties were more than one person could do effectively. The person who dropped the ball was the owner, who put her in that position. He should be yelling at himself.

The point I want to drive home is a very important one. One day that will be you behind the counter (so to speak), running your own cleaning business. So learn from this lesson and be aware of your surroundings, put things in their proper context, show courtesy and respect to your staff even when it seems as though mistakes are being made. Odds are, the mistake is one of your making anyway.

So stay calm, and address whatever happened privately, you don’t need to lose your cool. Your customers will appreciate your calm demeanor much more than the ogre inside you.

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