Today the Drudge Report had a link to an article stating there was 9% unemployment but the number could actually be as high as 16% if the number of people who have given up searching was included. And so as I did my errands today, that statistic was bouncing around in my brain.
I left the house at 10:00 and did not return until 4:30 and here is my report card of the businesses with whom I spent money on today.
Valero (Lakeway, TX) – it was a self-serve day today. Gas and car wash. The reason I go to Valero religiously is that when I do go in and interact with the staff they are always kind and friendly. They acknowledge that I am a repeat customer. And my experience with them is always an A+.
Walmart at the Northcross Mall in Austin gets a B+. I was at Northcross to get my hair done and stopped at the Walmart to pick up a number of items: iTune cards as gifts for clients as part of my 1 year anniversary, cleaning products for the house, coffee, and hair stuff. I was greeted. When lost for a moment and realizing I was blocking movement, I turned around to say “I’m sorry” and it was a Walmart employee behind me who said “Baby doll…you’re fine. Can I help you find something?” I know that Walmart is the butt of many jokes, but my experience there has always been above average. So, I am willing to be a part of “the people of Walmart” because my experience is vastly different from the stereotype.
Next, maintenance of blond ambition. Lisa Castiglione is my colorist. She is AWESOME. My previous colorist got married and moved to California and referred me to Lisa and two other stylists. I picked a winner. She gets an A+. I spend a lot of money and she makes it worth it.
Then on to Office Max at the Bee Caves, TX Galleria. A+. Young kid, think his name was Yaz was working the checkout. I bought a shredder, a big box of cushioned mailer envelopes for my upcoming direct mail campaign and then some smaller items – highlighters, post-its, etc. Total bill $183. As I was loading the shredder and envelopes into the trunk, young Yaz came running out because I had not grabbed the bag of little items. “I’m so glad you’re still here! My heart was pounding! I’m so glad I caught you and you didn’t have to drive back!” This kid will go far. He’s the kind of entry level employee you’d want to invest in – he gets the soft skills, and you could probably educate him on anything else. Kudos to Office Max.
Next stop was PetsMart. They get a C-. Yours truly was wrestling with a large bag of dog food and the employees didn’t bother to help or get out of the way as I made my way to the check out. Unlike Yaz at OfficeMax, they didn’t ask if I needed help to my car. And when I was checking out, as I held the large bag of dog food and my PetsMart reward card, the cashier didn’t take the card from me, but rather complained that I wasn’t holding it such that she could scan it easily. Who is handling 30 pounds of dog food and who has hands free?
Final stop was Bee Caves, TX, Galleria Lowes nursery. This was surreal. I asked one of their employees to point me to the climbing vine plants and asked if the roses were more temperamental than another variety out front and was told “I’m not a horticulturist.” When I asked if there was someone working who could answer my question – and I asked in a nice way – I was told that I could read the plant information to get the answers that I wanted. 64 quarts of potting soil, 3 large clay pots and 5 large plants for repotting and I’m treated like an idiot nuisance. Lowes nursery gets a D-.
What’s wrong with this picture? Maybe nothing. Maybe it is an accurate thumbnail of what business owners are dealing with.
The Yaz’s of the world will make their way. The rest will always be struggling. We have to deal in the “now,” with the people that are directly in front of us. I think it was the book Good To Great that talked about having the right people on the bus – as a priority that trumped everything else.
I have decided that I want to give attention to the Yaz’s of the world. You might want to do the same. As you go through your week and encounter the people who provide an A+ experience – look to reward them for that exceptional customer experience.