It's Business

Lessons I learned from my very first job

August 9, 2017

I started working when I was 15. It was on a work permit and I worked at the local library in my hometown of Charleston,SC. I worked there for a few months and then when I turned 16, I applied for Publix Supermarket. I got the job and started off at 5:45 an hour. I thought that was big money back then lol. I started off as a bagger and I loved that job because I was free to go outside and I didn’t have to talk to customers. I am an introvert and I was a little shy so bagging groceries gave me the freedom of not actually connecting with people. I could smile and say hello without holding a conversation. One day I was about 17 and the line was backed up several people had called in to work that day and I was the only person there long enough to open a register so they put me on one….I was nervous but it was a breeze I didn’t even have to be trained because I watched cashiers for over a year. I still didn’t wanna talk but I did. Eventually I worked in the back office which then lead me to become a manager. I left publix after 5 years of service and I even have a plaque to commemorate the achievement. It’s been years since I worked a real job but the lessons I learned were valuable into how I run my business. I get a lot of questions about how I learn how to deal with customers? How did you learn about bookeeping? All of what I know now…came from my first job

Lesson 1: Have everything recorded or documented. When I worked at publix I worked the front office where I handled a large sum of money at times. Some came in to pay their bills via western union and some of the amounts went up to 3,000+ One day a lady came in to pay her mortgage which was around 1100 bucks. She gave me the money and I recounted it. She was $200 short. she only gave me $900. She was busy talking to me and I was busy trying to count so I wasn’t paying her no mind. After I counted the money twice I told her she was short by $200 and then her niceness turned into you lying bitch. Yes she used those exact words….me being me (I was in my early 20’s at this time so I was not as calm as I am now) I was like if I’m a lying bitch you are a no counting bitch cause you off by 200. Of course she wanted to see my manager and he came out. He was able to calm me down and then she said I stole her money….nope I didn’t I told my manager to pull the camera. She got scared…he pulled it and wouldn’t you know she slipped the 200 in her pocket and handed me the 900….lol yep caught. She stormed out mad and never paid the bill. The manager scolded me on calling her a bitch and I told my manager respect is earned. You will not call me out of my name and think I won’t get fool with you. I was sent home for the day but was able to keep my job. The lady came back in a few months later and apologized to me for trying to hide the money and for calling me a bitch. I apologized and it was all good but yeah….have everything documented. In my business today I am not a person that does a lot of talking on the phone and stuff. I like to document everything! I prefer email inquiries and I prefer texting…its keeps me in line and I can refer back to it and it also keeps down the you say I say syndrome. It also keeps down the I forgot stuff too….Document everything even if people say they are on the up and up…this keeps down a whole lot of mess.

Lesson 2: The customer is not always right. Customer service is something I have a love hate relationship with. Some people just like to argue and you will find that when dealing with people….they like to think that they are always right. Sometimes the customer is wrong. If a price for a bottle of ketchup says it’s 2.99 and it rings up 3.50 the customer will get mad. The first thing I use to ask….did you get the right size bottle? Also, the signs can be moved. In one case the customer got the wrong size bottle. No problem, I simply told her it was the smaller bottle. She then started arguing saying that the sign was in front of the wrong bottle. Okay let’s go take a look so that I can move the sign and I will give you the bigger sized bottle for free because that was our fault. I get back there and there was no sign…..everything was in place as it should have been. I was confused as hell….she said that someone came behind her and corrected it while she was at customer service. Okay still no problem I was going to give it to her but then she says I want to get 5 more bottles at the same price….hold up wait a minute now you are being greedy as hell. I didn’t say that out loud, but I sure wanted to. I told her she would have to talk to my manager. See the manager wasn’t as nice. The manager said that he wasn’t going to give her the bottle for 2.99 at all because he didn’t see any signs and he wasn’t going to honor it. See…I was going to honor it but nahhhhh you see what being greedy does. Now she gets nada lol. This lesson can be used in business today. When a client comes to me and says that she wants me to honor a price that someone else has I always listen and if approached nicely I even try to honor that pricing because I want to be fair and competitive but then when that clients asks me for more stuff…..I get skeptical. I love customer service and I have won awards for it (yes even though I have cussed a few folks out) because I try to be fair and I love helping others but don’t be greedy.

Lesson 3: Spend money on good marketing. You ever seen a bad Publix commercial? I’ll wait…….some of their commercials pull at your heart strings like this one they did about graduation. This one had me shedding real tears and it’s about love…a lifetime of it. You see with each of their commercials they touch at your heart. It’s not a commercial they just throw together to sell you something. You pay more attention to the story than you do the product placements in the commercial. The story is what hits you first. That’s the way you have to brand your business and that’s the way you have to market yourself. What’s your story? Do people know the story….people buy on emotions. When I take photos I like to take photos that you never knew I took and then I hit you with those photos. That’s how I give you the story that you are paying for. When you are trying to market yourself make sure you don’t forget the story. You can find a way to plug your product or business into a story….find that way and use that as your marketing tool.

I don’t shop at Publix just because, there is a reason that I shop at publix. Yes their prices are a bit high but whose isn’t. I shop there because of their customer service, the people that they hire, and the care that I get. This was the best job I have ever had because they take pride in making sure they make you feel like family. Giving me stock within the company, making sure I had important dates off like graduation, being there for me and taking up money when I lost my first baby, they made me feel like family and what more can you ask for. I go to the Publix near my home because there are certain people in there that know me by name they make sure that I am satisfied. I will always remember my first job and the lessons it taught me. What was your first job? What lessons did you learn?

  • Reply
    August 9, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    At least you learned some valuable lessons from your first job. Always document everything is a big one.

  • Reply
    August 9, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    I can’t believe she called you a bitch and accused you of stealing, thank the lord for the cctv and glad she came back and apologised. These are important lessons to have learnt. I document everything and I am nice to people but on my toes too

  • Reply
    Heather @ Kraus House Mom
    August 9, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    I also worked in a grocery store and learned a lot about what people will say and do to get something. It got to the point that I felt bad for them.

  • Reply
    Sheena Steward
    August 9, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Great insight! Those lessons you learned in your teens and early 20 are still great lessons today. I agree customer service is important but the customer isn’t always right. Publix is great!

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    Monique Tillman
    August 9, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    You are so right, the customer isn’t always right. I deal with everyday who think they are right but they are not. Good marketing can make or break your business.

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    August 9, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    I used to be really good at putting all of my bills, receipts etc in quicken and filing everything. Now I’m lucky if I remember to pay my bills!

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    NATASHA C Taylor-Nicholes
    August 9, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    I shouldn’t be laughing at your responses, but I am, because I know the struggle. I was a manager at Target, and people LOVED pulling the I’m the customer and I’m ALWAYS right card with me – little ol’ me! You know I’m only 5’2″ soaking wet, so they loved getting all big and bad! I think that working in customer service REALLY taught me how to be a better customer in general, AND I learned the same lessons you did!

  • Reply
    August 9, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    You are definitely correct when it comes to seeing customers are not always right. There are times that you cannot let the customer get away with something. I used to work in customer service myself. There was a time or two that the customer argued with me and I was able to show them the errors of their ways so to speak.

  • Reply
    valmg @ Mom Knows It All
    August 9, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    I started working at the age of about 10 and have learned a lot. I have heard the customer is always right for years and it’s mularchy. What’s important is not who’s right or wrong but rather how the seller handles the customer possibly being wrong.

  • Reply
    Ladonna Dennis Maxwell
    August 9, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Having Worked in customer service years ago, I found it easier to let the owner, manager or shift supervisor deal with situations like you mentioned. I would then talk to the person in charge to see how they dealt with it, so I would know, in case I ever had to handle anything like that.

  • Reply
    August 9, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    I love how you say the customer is not always right…. You ate so right. And I have motif that most places are seeing this and standing up for their employees. But still long way from that.

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    Amy @ Marvelous Mommy
    August 9, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    Haha, number two! I always thought that line was ridiculous. The customer is not always right!

  • Reply
    August 9, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    Working customer service is hard. I used to deal with customers and I was stressed all the time. They’re not always right but if you’re part of a huge corporation, sadly there’s little you can do. Now I work backend and much happier!

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    August 9, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    I always tell people you have fo learn from every experience. You learned good ones. Being in customef serivce is a head ache for sure.

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    August 9, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    My first job was at a grocery store here in town. I definitely learned that the customer is not always right!

  • Reply
    Joanna @ Everyday Made Fresh
    August 9, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    Great lessons….Oh my gosh at that lady that tried to pull one over on you!! I would have reacted the same as you!

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    Claudia Krusch
    August 9, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    These are all great lessons to learn at your first job. It is so important to keep track of everything. I still have pay stubs from years ago.

  • Reply
    Carol Cassara
    August 10, 2017 at 5:53 am

    These are beautiful lessons that you can take with you on your next job or if you’re ever going to build your own business. There’s a lot of pain that comes with customer service, but I agree, the customer isn’t always right.

  • Reply
    Our Family World
    August 10, 2017 at 6:31 am

    I agree with the first one – to have everything documented and recorded. That is how you safeguard and secure your integrity as an employee. I had a similar encounter too, although my experience was with someone who had difficulty speaking and understanding the English language. It was a billing issue and I was accused of adding data charges on his cellphone bill. The customer was already screaming the F word at my face. He said he never uses the internet on his phone because he has a computer at home. I said that he has a smartphone and he may have connected to the internet and did not notice it. After almost an hour of explanation, the customer finally said, “You say I have smartphone. I think this phone is not very smart.” Customer pays bill. End of story. Haha. Since everything was caught on the CCTV, I got a commendation from my manager on how to stay cool under pressure. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Ali || Veggies by Candlelight
    August 10, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Always need to have everything documented and recorded, we have that at the business I work at. It’s much safer to have something recorded just to look back at.

  • Reply
    Melissa Dixon
    August 10, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Just like everything in life I feel like we learn from our own experience as well as others. This serves as a lesson for someone else that may be in the same situation. Glad you were able to prove you were not lying, that had to feel good!

  • Reply
    August 10, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Dealing with the public is pretty stressful. But it also helps you learn about yourself. It helps you determine your triggers and the kind of person you DON’T want to be.

  • Reply
    August 10, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    You’ve learned some awesome lessons! I have worked most in customer service and while I’m good at it, I hate that job. It doesn’t pay well nor is it worth the aggravation. Happy to know you aren’t working in Shriner service still. Someone has too but that job industry is for the birds.

  • Reply
    Kimberly Smith
    August 10, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    My first official job on paper was at my local library, too! What a coincidence. Great lessons you’ve learned.

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    August 10, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    There are so many lessons to be learned from a first job. This is a very real post full of honesty. I think a lot of people should read this and come to the realization that many experiences come with lessons.

  • Reply
    Mimi Green
    August 10, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    Like you I started working at 15 as well. I was a receptionist at a nursing home. I learned early on to meet people where they were. I also learned to never put my loved one in a home and just forget about them. Those lessons are ones I still keep with me even now.

  • Reply
    Sandy N Vyjay
    August 11, 2017 at 1:38 am

    The first job is so much akin to first love. The same excitement, the same mistakes and the same learning. Something you will never forget for life.

  • Reply
    August 11, 2017 at 2:29 am

    I too worked at a grocery store my first job and Target my second job and its amazing the stuff that people would try to pull on you. But I learned some of the same lessons and documenting everything is essential now

  • Reply
    amandeep kaur
    August 11, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Jobs with lots of direct public dealings are always a pain as there would be somebody who will always be ready to spoil your day.
    keeping a record and maintaining proper documentation is a must and perhaps what every fresher should be made aware of by the managers on first day of job

  • Reply
    August 11, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Sometimes you just gotta cuss somebody out! I love these first job stories. Thank goodness for cameras. The greedy customer had me cracking up!

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    Tiffany H.
    August 11, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    My first job was at Popeye’s making 6.25 an hour. Crazy to think what they paid us back in the day. I’m so glad they had cameras and she eventually came back to apologize. What kind of business do you have now?

  • Reply
    August 14, 2017 at 1:22 am

    omg at that money situation!! That’s CRAZY! But people are crazy with their money. I learned that at all of my retail jobs in college. I was a cashier A LOT. You have to be SOO careful!

  • Reply
    Dr. K. Lee Banks
    August 14, 2017 at 3:42 am

    These are definitely some valuable tips, especially documenting everything! And yes, the old adage “the customer is always right” – is NOT true! I was on the management team of a Jo-Ann Fabrics store many years ago, and know first hand that some customers treat you like crap and they are certainly NOT right!

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