How to Keep Things From Falling Apart
No matter how well you train your staff, and no matter
how many procedures you put in place to handle various
.. there are going to be situations that come up at your
cart or kiosk that are totally UNEXPECTED... and simply
can't be planned for.
These can be BIG situations, like a hurricane-caliber
thunderstorm that threatens to flood and close the mall, or a mall manager that forgets to update tenants with
adjusted Christmas hours... and then asks the tenants to
stay open, even though no staff are scheduled.
Or they can be seemingly SMALL issues like an unusual
customer request... or a credit card machine that unexpectedly
jams and cannot be unjammed.
Although there is no way to fully prepare your staff to
handle all these unexpected, and unforeseen types of
occurrences... you CAN give them a way of dealing with the issues
so that they don't shut down or cripple your business.
In my last update, I told you about a recent experience
I had at an airport food court, during a busy dinner period.
The cash register at the establishment went on the fritz.
And although they had a kitchen full of food, a staff
ready and waiting to make it, and a line full of hungry
customers waving their cash...
.. the kid behind the register was ready to close down
the shop because of that cash register, at least until his manager returned.
As owners, we tend to INSTINCTIVELY know how to
handle these situations.
For example... it's my guess that most of YOU, faced
with that same situation...
... would take one look back at that kitchen FULL of food,
with the staff READY and waiting to make it... and then look back at the line of dinner rush customers
waving their money, ready to buy.... and without batting an eyelid... would simply start calling
orders back to your staff, and making change out of your
.. at least until the dinner rush slowed, and you could figure
out what to do about the register.
However, when your STAFF is faced with an unfamiliar
situation, it's not unusual for them to feel confused and overwhelmed
when these unexpected situations occur.
Now some of them will also handle these situations effectively
and gracefully. If you have an entire staff of folks like this,
consider yourself fortunate.
But the reality is that some simply shut down in the face of
unexpected problems... or at best... simply slow down.
For example, just think how many times you've been a customer
in an establishment... when some seemingly SMALL issue grabs
the full attention of four or five clerks.
And as they gather around, and go into a 'tizzy' over a seemingly
minor issue, the rest of the business grinds to a halt.
You find yourself as a customer forced to wait and wait in
order to get a simple question answered... or get rung up.
These situations are generally caused when the clerks don't
really KNOW how to handle what ever the situation is... and
they have no to BASIS for making a decision.
At best, things simply slow down... and at worst customers
get ticked off, and sales are lost.
The good news is that there is a simple solution you can
employ to empower your staff to ACT in these situations,
and GUIDE them through the situation.
When your training and preparation doesn't address the
.. a simple thing you can do is to provide your staff some
overall 'PHILOSOPHY' that EMPOWERS them to act in these unusual situations... and GUIDES them in making a decision.
The philosophy could be, 'Use your OWN best judgment.
It could be, 'Call a Manager, and do NOTHING until you hear
back.' (I don't suggest this one!)
Let me suggest one that I have found effective.. one that I
suggested to the kid at the airport burrito shop when he clearly
had no idea what to do... and his initial solution was to simply
I asked one key question that turned things around.
I got my burrito. And they kept making sales.
(If you missed the beginning of the story, you can read it in
my last update:
'What would you do if YOU were the OWNER?, I asked.
He turned and said meekly, 'But I'm NOT the owner.'
'I know. But THEY'RE not here. And YOU'RE acting on
their behalf. What do you think THEY would do?'
This question stopped him. Clearly he didn't know.
But I could tell he knew it WOULDN'T be to simply close
So in his moment of hesitation... I saw my chance at that
burrito... and took my cue...
'Do you have a pen?'
He shook his head no.
Then he rushed off around back... and showed up thirty seconds
later with a pen in hand.
'Do you have a piece of paper?'
It looked like he was catching on... he pulled up a piece
of register tape...
'That's not gonna to be big enough. How about that
white paper bag over there?'
He grabbed the bag, started writing as I continued....
'Ok, ready... one veggie burrito, no cheese, that's $5.29; and
one large water, $2.89.'
And I held up two five dollars bills.
'You make my burrito, and I'll give you these two five dollar
. I'll come back when I'm finished eating. If your manager is
back by then, you can make my change, fair enough?'
He nodded, and called my order back to the kitchen.
Anyway, I got my burrito. Sat down to eat.
When I came back fifteen minutes later, the register was
And there was a guy with collared shirt behind the counter.
He was clearly the manager, and was counting a huge stack
of bills and looking at that white paper bag with all the orders
from the last fifteen minutes written on it...
.. and had this look on his face like... 'what just happened'
When the kid saw me, he got a big grin on his face... punched my
order into the register and handed me my change... and gave me
a little nod.
I got my burrito, the establishment continued making the dinner
rush sales... and that kid felt like he made the right decision.
The POINT of this update is to help your staff know what to
do when faced with the unforeseen circumstances that are GONNA come up.
Provide them some sort of PHILOSOPHY to empower them to
address the situation, and to help guide them in handling it as
best as they can.
I like, 'What would you do if you were the owner?'
Maybe you have another philosophy for your business. The
point isn't so much WHAT it is, as that you HAVE one. And COMMUNICATE it to your staff.
That way, when your business DOES run into situations that
are unforeseen... your staff will be MUCH more likely to be able to handle the
situation smoothly, and keep your business running!
The Kiosk Expert