Last week, I walked past the door of a just-closed business – one I often used for both business and personal services.
It was a shock, particularly since it was a franchisee of a very large business – one I’ve *never* seen close before.
Then I remembered what I’d seen there during every recent visit over the past month or two: the front desk staffer was never behind the front desk when I walked in. Instead of being behind the counter, they were in the retail space playing a Facebook game called “Farmville” – on a computer intended for customer use.
While there are legitimate uses for Facebook, Twitter (etc) at local businesses, this isn’t one of them.
When I entered the store, the employee would get up and go behind the counter and provide acceptable service.
I noticed a change in this place right after the holidays. The enthusiastic, eager-to-please employees (2 in particular) disappeared and were replaced with “average/meets typical expectations”.
Maybe that enthusiastic person was the owner and they were filling in during the Christmas rush, no matter what, their departure definitely impacted their service.
The real source of this problem
Yes, I’m talking about the owner/manager.
Sitting around playing games isn’t all the employee’s fault. It’s primarily an indicator of a management problem, particularly since someone, somewhere had to know that the business was close to dying.
So why is the Farmville-fest the owner’s problem?
Because the person playing the game couldn’t have had enough measurable work to perform.
If there isn’t enough business coming in, that person could have been tasked with putting together mailing, calling existing customers (I know *I* never got one) to see if they could help with any current projects, emailing existing customers, or worst case – dusting the place.
You get the idea.
Failing to Plan
Without such tasks to perform, you don’t have enough work to do, and at this point, anything would be better than leaving your staff with nothing to do but play Farmville.
A strategically designed marketing plan would produce work from both new and existing clients. Even in the worst of all possible situations, working the plan would produce *some* work of its own.
Then the Farmville farmer would have something more productive to do – and it’d be measurable so you’d know if anything was getting done without having to hover over them.
Having meaningful work for your staff to perform is ultimately your responsibility.
If you don’t give your staff substantive, profit-generating work to perform when retail customers aren’t standing in front of them – you’re get to pay twice: once for their wages and once for the lost revenue / lost customers.
Can you afford that?