PetAge_Cover_Oct14

Doing the Correct Thing

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You are going to love this one. I am in one of my stores when a woman customer comes up to me. She has two large bags of food in her shopping cart. Two bags of brand B.  She proceeds to show me a coupon she got for $10 off a different brand, brand A, but she doesn’t want to use the coupon for that brand, she only wants to buy the two bags of brand B. I look at the coupon and it is clearly a coupon that brand A sent her for use on their brand.

I said, “Really? You want me to let you use the coupon on another brand?”  I told her she was more than welcomed to use the coupon on anything the manufacturer of brand A makes but I wouldn’t let her use the coupon on a competitors product. It just isn’t fair. She asked me if I wouldn’t get my money back, how would anybody know the difference?  I said, yeah, I  would get my money back and yes, the folks at brand A would never know the difference. But it is against my principles to run my business like that.  She said ok and walked out of the store leaving the two bags of food.

So why didn’t I just take the coupon and make the customer happy? First, it could be I am getting old and crotchety. Definitely, now that I am also a manufacturer I have a slightly different outlook on  things. I would get pretty angry at a retailer if he or she took the coupon and I owned brand A. But mostly I didn’t  take the coupon, because I didn’t want to send the wrong message to my crew.

By taking the coupon I would be sending the message that it is OK to cheat. Certainly not the culture I try to build in my company. There were a few of my crew around who heard the exchange with the customer.

They all agreed I did the right thing and couldn’t believe the nerve of the customer. A few days later I was visiting a fellow retailer and told him the story. He thought to himself for about a nano second and said  I probably should have given her $10 off the purchase of the two other bags and explained why  I wouldn’t take her coupon. Duh!

Hence, the thought I am getting too old and crotchety.

As I write this article I am thinking I should have done exactly what George said and taken her coupon and ripped it up. That would prove to her and my crew I would not send in a falsified coupon plus that way she couldn’t use it again.

That episode got me thinking how complicated it is to create the right culture and get your staff to understand and do the right thing.  I absolutely know many of my crew would have taken the coupon because they know, “we do whatever it takes to make a customer happy.”  They wouldn’t want to encounter the wrath of Dave when he hears about a customer who  is not treated correctly.

Fortunately, that scenario happens very rarely.

- Dave Ratner

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