Monday, July 26, 2010

Cool your Customers

UPDATE: August 31. Now cashiers can no longer just type in the register for the ice purchases - they have to go get a bag from the ice machine, bring it back, wand the price, then bag it. That will solve people stealing ice, won't it!

In retailing, even the most benign rules you give to your employees can go awry.

On my way home today for lunch, I stopped in our local big box store to pick up a bag of ice. I bought a bag of ice and as I was leaving the store, the greeter called me back inside and asked to see my receipt for the bag of ice. The greeter was an older lady in a motorized chair - she had to drive up to me. So I went back in, showed her a receipt and was able to leave. As I did, the man behind me remarked on the absurdity of this situation and laughed.

I am sure this greeter was told to 'check all receipts' for ice. I suppose that occasionally someone walks out with a $2.14 bag of ice that they did not pay for. I doubt they are in business attire on a Monday morning at 11am. And if I had been wanting to steal the ice, I could have easily outdistanced the greeter on the scooter merely by walking away!

When you give your employees a rule and no exceptions you are likely to get results in ways you probably wouldn't want.

I like to buy ice at the big box store as it is cheaper than the local gas station and not too inconvenient. But if I have to worry about checking out with the greeter if I run in for a bag - I will go somewhere else. So a 5 cent bag and a bit of water are sufficient to stalk people as they leave the building?

Nothing cools the enthusiasm of your customers than rules that make them seem like they are a crook. Be sure to balance your need for stock control with their freedom to shop. You might need to allow a bit of ice leave - melt away so to speak - rather than risk losing future sales.

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