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Train or Get Ready for Customers to Complain

This transcript from Thrive15.com, one of the top business schools in PA, features Clay Clark (COO and founder of Thrive15.com) and Arthur Greeno (Owner of two Chick-fil-A franchises) discussing training employees to get ready for customer complaints. 

Clay:    I met a restaurant owner, who literally came up to me at an event years ago. He goes, "I cannot get my staff to show up on time." As we start getting to know each other, and he asked me to help him on some consulting stuff, meeting's supposed to start at 09:00. Like 09:50, dude rolls in. "I am so sorry."

    It's a deal of like, we all have a lot of stuff going on. I get it as you expand and grow a business, it's hard if you have a tight schedule. I know for me right now, as we're expanding Thrive, you have to take stuff out of your schedule to add stuff in. I mean that's just how it has to work. If you're the perpetually hour late boss, you can't really expect your staff to be there on time either. I mean it's ...

Arthur:    That's right.

Clay:    You have to walk the walk and talk the talk.

Arthur:    It goes all the way down the line. I was coaching a young kid who was actually in my youth group. He came to me and said, "Arthur, I need some help," and he had a hamburger place. I went to his hamburger place, and he had ... His hair was like two-feet long. He comes out and it's in a big bun. He has this apron on that just ... It has blood and guts on it.

Clay:    He's wicked awesome.

Arthur:    It was crazy. He comes out, and we sat down. After about four or five sessions, we had a discussion about his leadership style.

Clay:    Wait a second, I want to make sure. He had an apron on, with blood and various things on it?

Arthur:    That's exactly right.

Clay:    He had long hair, like [this 00:01:34]?

Arthur:    It was really offensive, you know, because the Chick fil A cows and I have this relationship. When he came out like that, I was really offended.

Clay:    Was he? Are you sure he wasn't a Wookiee?

Arthur:    He might have been.

Clay:    Fresh off a recent [battle 00:01:43]?

Arthur:    That's right.

Clay:    Okay.

Arthur:    He just got done eating. As our relationship grew, we talked about appearance, and how are you showing up to work. You know, I had to say, "Look, you're a business owner. If you're showing up as the guy who is on his knees back there plunging out the toilets, then that's what your employees are going to look at you as."

    Finally got to where our relationship ended was when I said, "You need to cut your hair." Because it was everywhere. Not that I'm against it, and guys with long hair, but he was trying ... He said, "Why doesn't the business community respond to me? How come my employees don't respond to me the way I want?" I'm kind of saying, "It may be like because you're living in the 1980s, and the grunge look is gone."

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Clay:    I think for anybody watching this who might be immediately just put off by this commentary. I think this is important that you think about this for a second. If you look at like President Obama, or you look at former President Bush. As a general rule, you don't see them out very often, rocking a mullet. You just don't see a lot of presidents with mullets, or you don't see a lot of presidents with dreadlocks.

Arthur:    Right.

Clay:    It's not to say that the President could not, because he's got two years left as of the taping of this. He could go into the dreadlock phase, and President Obama could pull that off, I'm sure. People have a first impression when they see you.

Arthur:    Right.

Clay:    Whether you should do it or not, or whether we're into this world view that people shouldn't judge you. That's fine, but they do. They maybe shouldn't judge you, but they do. What you're talking about is really just making sure that you dress the part, right? Your staff will respect you, and you look the part.

Arthur:    Yeah. The phrase my management and I like to use is, "Dress how you want to be addressed."

Clay:    Dress how you want to be addressed.

Arthur:    That's correct.

Clay:    Love it. Now, let me ask you this, if I'm watching this, and I am not super motivated to begin training my employees. I'm saying, you know, god, just like it's common sense. You know, this company, you would think they would just answer the phone with enthusiasm. Or you would think I shouldn't have to tell my people at the bagel company not to use their phone to text message while customers are in line.

Arthur:    It was a bagel company?

Clay:    Yeah, there was a bagel company that I had. If that is me, what would you say to me? If you're talking directed to me, on the other end of this camera. You're saying, "Hey, buddy." If I told you I'm not super-motivated to train my staff, what would you tell me?

Arthur:    That you're going to fail. It's pretty simple. You're going to have to get in there and train them, and show them exactly the way you want it to be done. Then you're going to have to adhere to that, and follow up with them, and make sure they're actually doing what you trained them to do.

Clay:    Now final action step here, I want to put [up 00:04:18] the question I want to ask you, as far as an action step. If I own a business, and I've never installed a training system. I have never trained my staff for 15 hours before they're in front of customers, 16 hours. If I have never trained them at all really, on a consistent basis, what would you tell me? What's an action step, or action steps that we can all do?

Arthur:    I would start with just sitting down and creating a list of what are you wanting?

Clay:    Okay.

Arthur:    What are you wanting from them? Is it about answering phones? Is it about customer service? Let's start with that.

    Then you can kind of break it down from there, and say, "I have a retail establishment and I sell nail polish." Which I don't sell nail polish, but let's just say I do.

Clay:    I would buy it from you if you did.

Arthur:    You would?

Clay:    Yeah.

Arthur:    Okay. We're going to start a nail polish business. Well, you know, what does that person need to know, at the front line? If they're going to be selling someone on nail polish, what are the important things? Then break it down and say, "Here's the important things," and then we break those things down.

    But look at what is the most important thing. Is it to be greeting the customer when they walk in the door? Is it to make sure that the store is clean? I mean whatever you focus on is going to happen.

Clay:    I'm going to break ... I just want to recap these three. It sounds like one, we want to create a list of what you want your staff to know. We want to make a list. Two, we want to break it down into different parts. Maybe one part is about how to clean the restroom, one part is on how to greet guests, one is on how to answer the phone, that kind of thing.

    Then I think the third action step that I think is important is asking yourself when are you going to do it? I know I just worked with one company that now he trains his staff everyday from 09:00-10:00am, before customers show up. Every single day, 09:00-10:00. It's made a world of difference, just having that time blocked out there.

    Arthur, I appreciate you giving us a little bit of that Chick fil A knowledge. You guys do it right at Chick fil A. You have an addictive chemical in your chicken, which keeps me coming back.

Arthur:    That's right.

Clay:    I appreciate you so much.

Arthur:    Thank you.

Clay:    Take care.


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