I ran into something today, and I wanted to write a quick post about it, at least as it relates to small business.
Each and every one of your employees is a part of your marketing.
What do I mean by that? I mean that any actions of even the most casual of back room staff adds to or takes away from the image your company has in the public eye.
My experience today has nothing to do with business, per se. It was more of a “spiritual employee” that I ran into that really put me off. It would be downright crazy of me to start talking religion here, so I won’t. However, to frame my objection, I would consider myself to be part of the same basic religious background as this “employee”, so I’m not coming at this experience with a pre-defined bias of any type.
I know that there is a strong temptation to place less emphasis on hiring low level employees in your store. I’m sure it’s an even stronger urge when you’re gathering volunteers. Maybe it’s the delivery driver, or the young kid stocking shelves in the back. You just need someone to fill the position, and you don’t really care how qualified they are, as long as they get the job done, and don’t ask for a lot of money.
Please resist this urge at all costs!
Every single person that works for you represents you. If your driver shows up to someone’s house and every 4th word out of his mouth is a curse, that makes YOU look crude. If your waitress is texting her friends instead of getting your customer their food, YOU look disrespectful.
See how I emphasized YOU in this. I rarely remember the name of the person that treated me poorly. If I saw them on the street, I doubt I suddenly feel the urge to yell at them. Maybe that’s just me. I will, however, always remember the store that treated me this way. And, if I happen to come across the name of the owner, I will definitely feel differently about them the next time I see them.
For another example, we have 2 Wal-Marts in our city. Although they are the exact same company, the 2 stores couldn’t be any more different. One of them seems to always have friendly staff, short wait lines at the till, and well stocked shelves. The other one is usually the employee equivalent of a ghost town. We have, more than once, waited in line for over 30 minutes. Plus, they always seem to be out of the one thing I went there for.
Once again, I don’t get angry with the staff. That’s about as pointless as yelling at the CSR on the phone when the phone company makes a mistake on my bill. I have just made a point of avoiding the “bad” store, and have concluded that the general manager simply isn’t as good at his/her job as the manager at the “good” store.
There’s a quote that my friend and I use a lot; “everything for a reason”. By that we mean, consciously do every task in a way that you have thought through carefully, because you know it’s the BEST way to do it.
Every aspect of your business is important. The logo, the uniforms, how clean the bathrooms are, and the quality of each and every one of your employees…they’re all equally important. A book I read recently talked about how the author could tell how good the business was, just by looking into the customer bathrooms. Not everyone feels that way, but if enough of your customers find that important, then so should you.
So, if it takes you an extra hour, day, or week to find the right employee, regardless of the position they will be filling, take that time. Your customer’s opinion of that employee will become their opinion of you, so be aware of that. You don’t need to find “perfect” people, just someone who is friendly, hard working, and most importantly…trainable. Then, make sure someone takes that time to train them. Let them know what you expect, what you find important, and then hold them to those values. Trust me, it will be time well spent.