I stopped at a car wash this week to vacuum my car. The car wash is attached to an oil-change company. I guess the concept is that I can get several car services in the same location. I pulled up to the machine and noticed that the nozzle was broken. I backed-up and pulled over to the other vacuum. I put my $1 in the slot and begin to vacuum the car. Almost immediately I noticed that the pressure was not very good. I decided I would go inside and see if I could get my money back.
Both oil-change bays were empty and there were three workers sitting in the office/lobby. I explained my problem and one of the guys said, “That vacuum never works right, you need to use the other one.” I told him the other one was broken as well. He said, “Well it worked yesterday.” I told him the nozzle was broken and asked if I could get a refund. He said, “We don’t do that.”
There was no, “I’m sorry.” There was no,”Let me help you.” Just three guys sitting in a room with no focus on me as a customer. As I walked back to my car it occurred to me that the owner had a problem. He had invested well over a million dollars in property, building and equipment and then hired uninspired people to run his business.
Now ask yourself this question – as you think about how this applies to your business and the interactions that occur every day with your customers. Do your employees care? Do they take an interest in the business? When you are away or not listening, do they present the customer service attitude that you expect.
There are several places that the car wash owner may have gone wrong. He probably does not have a good hiring process. He may be hiring friends of workers – without really confirming that they have the right attitude for the customer service job that is required. I assume he would never hire someone that could not tell the difference between the water pump and the oil pump but he obviously did not check to see if they knew how to talk to customers.
Another possibility is that he has inadequate training. He probably has an orientation that includes where to find the tools and what to charge for the services, but he probably does not have an effective training program that shares the nuances of dealing with customers.
Above all, he did not hire for attitude. Small businesses (and large ones) fail every day. And research shows that employee apathy is one of the top reason that customers leave. I am sure I will take my $1 revenue somewhere else the next time I need a car wash. But, ask yourself this question, “How much money is walking out your door when one of your frontline employees doesn’t meet their needs?”
When you hire an employee do you hire for attitude? Do you train new employees on the simple soft-skills required to satisfy your customers? How much revenue is walking out your doors because of apathy?