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?