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How to Keep Things From Falling Apart

Dear Friend,

No matter how well you train your staff, and no matter how many procedures you put in place to handle various situations...

.. 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.

Brady Flower has FREE Kiosk Profit tips for you!

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 pocket...

.. 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 specific situation...

.. 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 close down.

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 up shop.

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 bills...

. 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 working again. 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!

Brady Flower
The Kiosk Expert

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