You Can’t Always Blame The Economy For Slow Business


There is no doubt that the economy is not only bad in the United States, but here in Burbank. Businesses are lowering prices and coming up with all sorts of gimmicks to get you in the door in hopes that you will spend some money.

It was interesting to me last month when something happened through my own experience that made me think that was more then a great sale price or a hook that actually keeps successful businesses that way.

After finishing my coaching duties one day at Burbank High School, I was in the mood for a sandwich and in the past have visited the Jersey Mike’s located in the back of the In-N-Out parking lot on First Street. Making my way over and getting through the In-N-Out traffic, I went in to order my sandwich.

I am pretty much a creature of habit and like what I like, so I ordered the ham and cheese with extra cheese. Near the end of making the sandwich they always ask if I want it “Mike’s Way”, which gives you a series of condiments. I always answer no, please do not put any spices (salt, pepper) on it but I will take everything else.

For the fourth time out of maybe 10 that I have been there, I watched in horror as they poured the pepper on it as though I had never said a thing or they had never asked the question. After having this happen three other times I angrily pointed out the mistake and they said ‘sorry’, and they would ‘fix it’.

I didn’t want it started over and I didn’t want apologies, I just wanted the job done right the first time because I was hungry and tired. It was just people not listening and not paying attention to details. I was frustrated and walked out (and have made a pledge to never go back, after they had screwed up 4 out 10 tries).

Frustrated, I looked at the In-N-Out line and it was not to long so I thought ‘what the heck’, since I have never have been known to pass up a good burger. There was a girl walking out front to help expedite orders and after she took my order, made sure to repeat it back to me, including my “Animal Fries, well done”.

When I got to the window, the girl there also repeated my order back, making sure she had it correct and offered me extra napkins if I wanted to eat in the car. When the order came she once again repeated it to me and showed me the fries and asked if they were OK – which they were!

As I was leaving I was thinking that in the same parking lot I had run across two large chain businesses and saw two completely different approaches. The Jersey Mike’s is a franchise with an absentee owner. The employees don’t seem very invested in the business and you can even tell they are forced to ‘greet’ every customer as they walk in the door, no matter how condescending it sounds.

The In-N-Out is not a franchise and from what I understand, pay their employees far more then minimum wage with some other perks. You can tell that the employees care in a more genuine way about their customers and are invested into the business.

So two businesses, side by side, on a given day, yet one has a long line and the other does not. Sometimes it just really comes down to how you treat your customers and getting the job done right – the first time.

Yes, the economy is bad and effecting some businesses, but you can’t just always blame the easy thing for your problems. Hard work and paying attention to the little things always seem to succeed when the excuse makers look to blame others for their own problems.

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