I generally want to write and speak in the positive. I find it more often entertainment than sage wisdom when reading the “10 Don’ts” list. “Ten thing not to do when standing in a puddle of water!”. “Seven things not to say to your wife when you’ve had too much to drink.”
I think you get the picture.
So, today, I am writing to tell you “Two things your business should NOT practice.” Here we go, I’m sure they won’t be as entertaining as “7 things not to say to your wife”, but I’ll take my chances.
Create A Negative Environment
That sounds pretty simple and you would think no business owner would cultivate a climate of negativity in their business. I’ll just spell out my real life example and you can draw your own conclusion.
I got to visit one of our customers to do some automation improvements. When I called to make the appointment, I was greeted with a very negative ‘receptionist.’ This is often the case with a small company where the owner is being ‘protected’ by this first line of defense. Usually, when they understand that I am calling on business requested by the owner, this barrier is taken down, and I can proceed as needed. I was told I could come when I wanted to, but no guarantees that the person I needed to meet with would be available. Since I can usually do my work on the computer and not have significant interaction, this was okay.
Upon arrival, I was treated rather business-like, and finally handed off to one of the minions whose system I needed to work on. And yes, the owner, who made the arrangements with others for me to be there, was NOT there. I proceeded with my work, and as it is rather straight-forward in its completion, I was privy to listen in on the office conversations. I had 3 more systems to work on before getting completed. I got to hear about how the accounting girl wouldn’t do anything unless the owner told her to. She also called in from her lunch break to inform the office that her mother had been in a car wreck. Instead of hearing words of sympathy, I heard, “I wonder if her mother really had a wreck.” The accounting girl had told the receptionist that she would be at the emergency room of a large local hospital. Easy enough to check out, don’t you think?
Later I got to work on the ‘warehouse’ guy’s system. He prided himself to me on ‘running the place.’ Things don’t happen without him. And while that may be true to a fault for a small business, someone shouldn’t be taking the attitude with customers that ‘you have to crawl to me if you want it!’ What makes this story so incredible, is that when the owner did show up, and everyone was telling him of the things they thought he needed to know, he was right there with them. The warehouse guy was telling him about a customer who complained about the quality of his order he had received (they sell upscale Italian leather goods, belts, shoes, etc.) He told the owner, and apparently the owner agreed, “I’ll get his replacement out when I feel like it. I told him I looked over his order before I sent it out, and there was nothing wrong.”
All of the negativity going on, and no one to stop it. YIKES!
Address A Customer Problem In Such A Way As To Make Them Never Buy From You Again
I’ve been doing a little organizing. Some might say very little… and that’s ok. I’ve been organizing Dallas Magic Clubs Special Interest Group (SIG) meetings. It’s not easy herding cats. But I like a good laugh. If we were a group of barbershop quartet artists, we could just show up at some restaurant and pull a few tables together, and away we go. Talking, laughing, singing. But no, magic is slightly different in that we prefer to keep some of our discussions away from the lay people. And as that is a goal I shoot for, I look for a venue that can accommodate such arrangements.
In comes The Midway Point. They have a sports bar feel with a nice room in the back where groups can meet. At the outset of us trying to use their facility, the co-owner, Ellen Latchaw, indicated that they usually require twenty people to open the room. Additionally, she told me that they would hire someone to work the room exclusively. I explained that we were just getting started, and that twenty might be difficult. She said she would work with us. Instead of having an exclusive waitress, they would treat the room as just another table, and whoever would help us would. That seemed workable.
As the SIGS got going, we ended up having 3, Mentalism, Close Up, and Family Entertainment. The close up has been attended fairly well, mentalism is still developing, and the chemistry for Family Entertainment needs some adjusting. So with the SIGS not being attended as well as I would like, I confered with all of the heads of state, and decided to have one SIG meeting with all three groups in the same venue! Voila! Problem solved, right?
The SECOND meeting of the joint SIGS is at the Midway Point on Wednesday, Dec 28. The room had been confirmed with Ms Latchaw on Dec 9, (in person, not over the phone.) We had about six that showed up. And of course, the holiday’s are to blame.
We’re still having our meeting. We’re eating, we’re drinking, we’re discussing magic secrets, when someone in a cowboy hat, denim jacket and snarl comes strolling in. This was actually not an unusual sight as the room is next to the restrooms. So, someone tends to stroll in on occasion, just to see what the group is doing all to itself. What did make it strange is the prompt return of the cowboy, where he then commenced to telling us that “You are done. I have to spend a lot of money to open this room. I hired someone just to wait on you.” (the waitresses waiting on us had already told us that there was no one exclusive for the room that evening.) Since I was the organizer, I decided to introduce myself and see what was the issue. We were lectured that we could have our meeting in any one of the empty tables out on the dining floor. We were costing him money, and we were not going to do it again. I explained that I had made the arrangements with Ellen, where upon he said, “that’s my wife, I’m the owner.” Yes, James R. Latchaw, is the owner.
I did not see Mr. Latchaw before his tirade. I cannot confirm or deny his consumption of adult beverages before entering the room. I can only affirm that after we relocated to a table in the dining area, after debating leaving all together, Jim Latchaw did hoist more than 2 brown long necks. And as he is over 21, quite legal to do so.
Mr. Latchaw had every reason to tell me that our arrangement wasn’t working out. He could have done it in a way that I would have thanked him and endorsed his restaurant bar as a great place to eat and meet. But I think there are at least 6 members of the Dallas Magic Clubs that will not suggest to any attendees of TAOM 2013 that they should spend one nickel at that location.
Derrel, Your comments about what happened at Midpoint Restaurant are too kind and tactful. I was one of the attendees, and I must say, I have NEVER been treated so rudely by a restaurant manager in my life. At one point, I actually thought that the guy was going to get physically violent. And for what? Low meeting attendance?! There was absolutely no excuse for the way he treated us, and I have written a letter to him to let him know what I thought of the whole experience. Since this is affecting the whole magic club, I think an announcement at the next magic club meeting would be appropriate.
You never can tell what goes through some people’s minds. Customer service has become a lost art. It seems we ship it over seas.