This organization with more than 2,630 stores is very likely outstanding, but on this day, a franchise owner and his manager were not. Read on …
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My 29-year-old son, Michael, and I met at a sub sandwich shop down the street. A handy location for us both—and now our former favorite place to eat.
It was never about the pickle.
After interacting with a friendly cashier, we got our sandwiches and sat down. When Michael realized we’d not received our sliced half-pickle, he said to the counter guy, “Excuse me, we ordered a pickle and didn’t get it.” His response?
“I’ll need your receipt.”
Turning his pockets inside out, Mike said, “Dad, do you have the receipt?”
We both turned toward the cash register and saw our cashier had gone on a break. Darn. Meanwhile, the gent who needed to see our Pickle Procurement Paperworkhad returned to his work.
We were on our own—sans pickle.
Knowing this author of customer service books pretty well, Mike said softly, “Dad, can we not make a thing out of this?”
“You bet, son. No problem.”
But I know Michael loves a pickle with his sub. When I saw his hands still roaming his pockets hunting for the wayward receipt, I politely asked the employee who had denied Mike, “You sure we can’t have our pickle? We did pay for one.”
Then our cashier returned to her post. Jumping up, I said, “Hi, remember me? We ordered a pickle with a #8 and a #10. Right?”
She affirmed that we had indeed entered into a Certified Cucumber Contract!
But then a new guy behind the counter jumped in declaring, “Let’s see if your receipt is in the computer.”
You. Must. Be. Kidding.
There’s no going back now!
I asked, “Okay … who’s the manager here?”
“I am,” said the proof-of-purchase-searching man.
So, the fella wasting everyone’s time while showing complete distrust of his own team member/cashier, not to mention a paying customer, was the … LEADER!
At that point, my son and I began a fine rendition of “good cop, bad cop.”
Or “crazy old man, calm young man.”
As the store boss pressed register buttons and I got a tad heated, Mike calmly said to any staff member who’d listen, “Well, this is a little weird. We just wanted our pickle.”
But wait! A third person joined the melee and began arguing with us.
I asked, “I’m sorry, who are you?”
He said, “The owner.”
From then on it’s a blur, but I do recall the Jimmy John’s franchise owner stating loudly, “You’re making a big commotion in front of all the adults in my store.”
Shame the guest. Good tactic.
Getting nowhere, this happened:
Me: “Are you saying you’re willing to lose customers over … a pickle?”
Owner: “When they act like you, I am.”
That’s when mellow Mike, co-owner of a service-oriented wedding video/photography business, said, “Dad, why don’t you head out to the truck?”
What a good son.
As I departed, he ordered a sandwich to take home to his wife. Arriving at my truck, Mike reported that when I left the store, the owner turned to other customers and said, “Well, it’s always something, right?!”—and everyone chuckled.
In my absence, I was mocked. Another outstanding service strategy.
Customers aren’t always right, but the Miller men weren’t wrong.
“Really? McDonald’s didn’t give us two milks today and when I told the staff, they couldn’t have handed them to me any faster!”
The next day, sitting with two FedEx retail store managers, I told the Jimmy John’s story. They stared. Finally, one said, “You’re making this up, right?”
Is it possible the owner of this sub shop and his manager don’t know that hungry American consumers have more eatery options than anyone can count?!?
Nah … they must know that.
So you know, we did have our pickle handed to us during all the yelling—but it was never about the pickle. In your opinion, what message(s) did this franchise send to its customers?