Sunday, March 8, 2015

Like a Boss

I had two vastly different Customer Service experiences within the last week and it got me thinking about my past in Customer Service and my future as a Self-Employed Entrepreneur.

The first experience was at a new coffee chain here in Omaha called Green Beans Coffee. I have an overwhelming love affair with coffee and we had a $10 off coupon, so we decided to try it out for breakfast. Overall, the coffee was pretty good, but it was the girl behind the counter who created a memorable experience for me. It's hard to explain exactly what was great about her. She did the usual stuff really well. She was friendly, she answered questions, she made suggestions, she signed us up for the rewards app (yeah, not a rewards card, a rewards app on my phone), and she did the same for every single person in line without wavering. But there was just something else that made her stick out... There's only been one other Customer Service experience that struck me like this one. It was at least five years back around Christmas time and my brother and I were shopping for a pea coat for Mindy. The twenty something girl that helped us at Forever 21 was outstanding. She listened to our questions, she made suggestions, and she ended up finding us the perfect coat for Mindy (a coat that Mindy was actually wearing during our Green Beans experience). When we were done I told my brother, "If I owned a company, I would hire that girl to manage it right here on the spot. She was so good I felt like she was the owner of the store." "She is," my brother replied, "I went to high school with her. It's been her dream to own a clothing store so she worked really hard and bought this franchise."

That's what it was about the girl at Green Beans. She acted like an owner, not an employee.

In contrast, I just visited Lowe's yesterday to find a latch for our fence. I typically prefer Lowe's to Home Depot because the service seems to be better, but yesterday was an exception. I wandered around the Home and Garden department for a while but couldn't find what I was looking for. An employee asked me if I needed help and he sent me to Isle 15 for what I needed. Once at Isle 15, I walked up and down but couldn't find the stupid latch I needed. Three times I walked past the same employee but he didn't speak a word to me. Eventually he walked away and went to his computer. When I finally decided to ask for help I went and stood by his computer but he refused to make eye contact. Finally I said "When you have a second, I could use your help finding something." He looked at me and asked "What." "I need a latch for an outdoor privacy fence," I replied. He walked me to what I needed, pointed to it, and walked away. He did his job, but you could tell he hated it.

I'm not here to dog on this guy. Actually I feel bad for him. I was in his position just a couple months ago. I'm sure he doesn't like his job and I really didn't like mine. We both technically did our jobs but neither of us really put any extra effort into it. Neither of us were advocates for our company. I really tried to do my best and most of the people I interacted with on a daily basis were happy, but I was operating at less than 50% of my potential, and it was miserable drudgery day after day.

Contrast that once again with where I'm at today. Self-Employment is a dream come true for me. I work with clients at the gym that I truly care about and want to see succeed. Because of this, I'm more than willing to go the extra mile to help them reach their goals, and I'm pretty sure they can tell. I OWN my business with them. When it comes to working on cars, there's still a lot for me to learn, but I try to do the best I'm capable of every day and make each job a little better than the last. If customers have problems, I try and go the extra mile to help them out, and people seem to respond to it. One woman bought a car from me and was so impressed by the transaction that she sent her mom to me to do the same. I OWN my business with them.

Trust me, I've sat through countless motivational meetings at work where my boss tried to convince me to act like I owned my business there, but ownership is something you can't fake. You either own something or you don't. I don't know if the girl at Green Beans is an actual owner of the business or not, but she acted like an owner which tells me she's in the right place, and I think that's the key.

If you're in the right place, you act like an owner, and if you can't act like an owner, it might be a good idea to start looking for a place where you can.