Edition 19: Life with Kermie, to serve – or not to serve

I HAVE to be careful what I say here because the almighty advertising dollar speaks volumes and I can't speak ill of a company or business in case they take offence and refuse to spend money with the media concerned. I'm not referring to Big Rigs here, who, as you would know is fearless in talking about the industry. Rather, it's the Mothership who tends to get a bit nervous.

Not that I'm about to denigrate one particular business. Indeed I'm aiming at a good 50% of them. I should also add as a disclaimer, that I'm (hopefully) sure that not all outlets of the various businesses are in the same boat as the ones I've been in lately. But you know how it is with Murphy and me. If there's a problem, it's sure as hell going to come my way.

So, what is this problem?

Service - or lack of it - that's the problem.

There is a hardware store that I have shopped at for years. I always go to the same outlet and, having renovated the home from top to bottom, I have spent a wad of cash over that time, buying everything that cut, sanded, sawed, painted, hammered, nailed, etc.

And over that time I got to know the staff there pretty well. Why did I always go there? Because said staff were largely made up of retired tradies who knew their stuff.

They guided me to the best drill my money could buy and often talked me up into something a little more expensive because it was worth it. And it always was, given all my tools have had a fair hiding over the years and still run like a Swiss watch.

The one item I had which gave up the ghost a week after the warranty ran out, had such a hard life in its 12 months, that I promptly went out and bought another of the same brand.

If you asked where a certain item might be you were always taken to it. If you wanted advice on how to do a particular job, it was always forthcoming. And there was always one or two of these "specialists" floating around in just about every aisle.

But it appears times have changed.

Gradually the retired tradies have actually retired or been forced into it. Unfortunately, in this outlet's case anyway, they seem to be getting replaced by young, green-behind-the-ears kids.

Now everyone has to start somewhere and I wish them well. Indeed my two younger lads are about to enter the workforce and I hope that some business is willing to give them a leg up.

Now I can walk around aisle after aisle and find no one to give me advice. I can't help getting annoyed when there are three staff chatting with each other in the tool shop and I get ignored.

I get more annoyed when I ask where an item might be and they vaguely point to some far-flung corner and continue their conversation with each other.

By the time one of them actually realises that I am struggling trying to find said item and takes me there (which I understand to be company policy), I am so ropable that I bite the poor lad's head off.

Another time I go to pick up an item they had put aside for me.

At the checkout the young bloke is having a loud barney with another member of staff at another counter 20 feet away. He then walks off, telling me and three other members of the public to go to another counter. Unfortunately (for him) my item is under his counter and he gets an earful from me.

This attitude is not restricted to this place by any means. I've been into fast food takeaway chains where the order takers treat me like a hindrance on their otherwise exciting (?) day.

I will say here that, to date McDonalds have been pretty good. It's just that I prefer another company's product, so Maccas doesn't see quite as much of me.

There are plenty of smaller businesses that need to take a learning curve as well. Aren't waiters there to wait? Aren't the folk behind the counter there to SERVE YOU?

I'm not asking them to call me "Sir". I'm not asking them to say, "Have a nice day". I simply would like them to greet me civilly, help me to the best of their ability and to say thank you for me spending my hard-earned with them.

Is this too much to ask? Over the years, in my small town I have seen plenty of businesses start up, become successful and then become lackadaisical in their attitude to the customer.

They don't last long. The same can happen to big business as well. It can't dig into the profits very much to give some basic training in how to present your business in the best light.

Thank you for reading this.

Take care of You.

Kermie, 0418 139 415,

Topics:  columns graham harsant life with kermie transport trucking

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