5 Scenarios on Why PCB Needs Hospitality Training by Jan. 1 2010

by August 10, 2009 • 28 comments

What may distinguish Panama City Beach from larger, more prominent, vacation destinations isn’t what you may think. It isn’t the clientele, because let’s face it; the same people who visit Orlando and New Orleans visit Panama City Beach. It’s not necessarily our ignominious moniker as the “Redneck Riviera,” because even a place like Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where such a label may seem a tad more appropriate, has avoided such branding. In fact, what may be keeping Panama City Beach from realizing its full potential as a vacation destination to rival any, is a very simple thing we’ve all taken for granted; standardized hospitality training. The very truth in the statement is evidenced by how many people, as they read this, scoff at the idea.

While you think Panama City Beach is doing just fine in its ability to be a hospitable, obliging place for all vacationers your own “Southern Manners” may be what’s blinding you from the truth. The reality is, as city Panama City Beach is not professionally hospitable. As far as true, professionally operated hospitality goes, Panama City Beach could be schooled by places like Orlando and Gatlinburg. Don’t believe me? Below are five scenarios that, although fictionally composed, can be witnessed happening all over the beach. After reading them, ask yourself do we need the training.

Restaurant Scenario:

During peak season, several families wait outside a restaurant where the wait has reached over an hour. It is the height of summer and the heat index is in the triple digits. There are no available seats in the restaurants interior and all unseated patrons must wait outside where chairs are extremely limited and the heat is rising off the pavement in waves. During their wait no hostesses come out to check on them, from the restaurant manager they receive no updates on wait time and no complimentary refreshments are provided in the extreme heat. When one of the fathers, whose two-year old daughter is drenched with sweat in the blistering heat, approaches the teenage, untrained hostess regarding remaining wait time the hostess sighs with annoyance and says, “Sir, the wait time is 45 minutes and you’ve only waited 30. We can’t seat you until seats are available. We’ll buzz you when its time.”

Hotel Scenario:

During the midnight shift, two young girls, one twelve and the other sixteen, rush the front desk counter of their hotel obviously frightened and out of breath. The older of them, panting and shaking, says to the desk clerk, “We saw a huge bug in our room.”
The other girl chimed in, “It was giant; bigger than my thumb and black!”
“And it could fly!”
The desk clerk, an older woman, chuckled softly and replied,”It’s just a palmetto bug. They’re everywhere this time of year. Where are your parents?”
The older girl answered, “They went to dinner and we ordered pizza. The bug landed in our food.”
“Well,” the clerk said. “Those bugs ain’t gonna do you no harm. They just looking for a place to get out of the weather.” She reached behind the desk and grabbed a can of bug spray. “We don’t have maintenance on staff right now so take this with you. If you see him again, give him a shot of this and I promise you won’t see him again.”

Transportation Scenario:

A family, excited to be in Panama City Beach for their annual vacation, have problems with the car rental at the airport and decide to hail a taxi. The taxi stops. When the man opens the door for his wife, the cab billows with cigarette smoke. Inside, the cab still smells like Spring Break puke. The man says to his wife and two children, “Don’t worry. We’ll get to the hotel and the fun starts.”
After driving silently for a few miles, they cross Hathaway Bridge and see the beautiful water for the first time. The kids are blown away by the colors of the gulf and the ships coasting the calm water. The man says to the cabbie, “We’ve never been to Panama City Beach. This place is beautiful. Tell me a little about it.”
The driver answers, “It’s busy and crowded. But from what I hear there’s a lot to do.”
“Like what?” The man asks. “Where’s a good place to take the kids for dinner?”
“Umm, there are lots of places. You’ll see all that once you get to your hotel.”
“But c’mon, as a local, you’ve got to know a few good spots. Any places you’d suggest?”
“Nope. Ask the front desk clerk at your hotel.”

Law Enforcement Scenario:

A big name celebrity is brought to Panama City Beach for a one night only concert. Since there is no venue to house such an event, the concert is held on the beach. Law Enforcement has a plan in place to accommodate up to 10,000 – 12,000 occupants on the beach and roadside parking. None of the local businesses are knowledgeable about this plan because, but based on the projected number, law enforcement should be able to handle the influx.

The concert sees nearly 30,000 people, far above the anticipated number. Roadsides are crammed with cars causing major traffic jams and potentially dangerous situations. Bathrooms, water fountains and other necessary items for a concert of such a magnitude were not readily available. When the concert ends, the 30,000 people at once hit the streets and overwhelm the businesses and law enforcement. Open canisters, kids hanging out windows, speeding cars and other illegal circumstances cannot be properly policed. Local business parking lots are littered with people and trash and the traffic is backed up for hours. Police have to close roads in order to manipulate the traffic.

A local couple is trying to get home in all the madness. Their home is on one of the closed streets. When the couple asks the police officer if they can cut through to get to their home and out of the crazy scene, the officer ignores them and they have to sit through a 2 hour traffic loop just to get home.

Nightlife Scenario:

A man in a bar accidentally bumps into a woman, causing her to spill her drink onto her dress. The woman, slightly inebriated, screams at the man who tries desperately to apologize. After only a few moments, the woman’s boyfriend walks up, his eyes dancing around with drunkenness.

The boyfriend shoves the other man into a crowd of people causing a ruckus at the bar. The bartender calls for the bouncers, who show up and grab both men. The boyfriend tries to fight off the bouncer causing the bouncers to become more aggressive. The man, who is still attempting to be apologetic and explain to the bouncer his mistake, is put in a chokehold and dragged out of the bar; his night on Panama City Beach ruined.

These are but scenarios that represent real life scenes on Panama City Beach. The lack of hospitality training not only hinders businesses and their employees from handling these situations properly, but often encourages the situations by the utter unprofessionalism. By simply adding accessible Standardized training (which should be relatively easy with the new bay county chapter of the FRLA) Panama City Beach could change everything about its moniker and its clientele by setting the example.

You may be raised how to be polite contributing members of society, but no one is raised to be hospitable and professional: for that you need training.

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1 Gregg August 10, 2009 at 10:02 am

Cebo, I agree with you 100% on your assessment but realistically I wonder considering the current state of our hospitality industry in PCB, I don’t think it would be feasible.
Most of the folks you mention in your examples above are low pay/high turnover positions. My experience in business is that if you are looking to spend training money, you need to have a stabilized work force in order to make it worth while. Then even if you do the training, you have to enforce your expectations. There is a tendency because of the low pay, little or no benefits to look the other way by management as to replace these folks at a similar pay scale is difficult at best. In addition, the employee looks at it in terms of “if I get too much pressure” I’ll just quit, my pay is so low with next to nothing in benefits, I have little to lose anyway. In many cases the management is poorly skilled again due to the same issues, there is a tendency just to “pin a badge on someone” and now they are a manager so there is not much of an example to follow.
I just don’t think PCB is ready to actually make the investment to put professional staffs in place.
Training is good but in order to make it successful, you have to have a professional staff in place. To get and keep a professional staff, the pay and benefits have to be there. Even before then, to build this staff, you have to have talented, goal orientated managers in place. I think you are looking at the last piece of the puzzle, not the 1st.

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2 jobeibi August 10, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Thanks, Cebo. This is a terrific article. I never realized that PC’s service was so bad until I went out to eat in Orlando.

New Year’s Eve, we went out to eat at a German themed restaurant at Pier Park. It was very crowded, so we expected to have longer than normal wait times for food and drinks. But when our waiter didn’t check on us or anyone else in our area for more than an hour after we had been given our drinks and placed our orders, we thought we’d been forgotten. I went to the hostess station, and said, “Excuse me, I know you’re busy, but it’s been over an hour since we placed our orders and…” The hostess snapped back, “It’s going to be even longer!” and walked away.

We spent over a hundred dollars there that night, on cold cuts, pretzels and beer. You’d think that a little courtesy might have been included in the bargain.

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3 Sandy Thompson August 10, 2009 at 5:13 pm

I taught hospitality training to approximately 1,500 people at Amelia Island Plantation (including a new General Manager and VP of the resort) and we did it right!! The customer service and most of the business owners in Panama City Beach just don’t get it… I find the attitude most frustrating and discouraging. Would love to help them out, but I’m not sure they really understand that they need help!!

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4 Kirk Lancaster August 10, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Excellent article, Cebo, and right on the money. But Gregg and Sandy make realistic (and worrisome) points… are our businesses going to put the effort into making it happen?

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5 Cebo Campbell August 10, 2009 at 9:20 pm

Kirk, I hope the newly formed Bay County chapter of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association will step in and maybe create a platform that makes it easy for businesses to have training for employees. My hope would be that the FRLA creates a way for businesses to have low-cost access to testing through some sort of membership. Such a way, I believe, could be beneficial to everyone.

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6 Gregg August 10, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Certainly some business’s in PCB are doing a very good job and it would be a plus for them to make the investment in training.
If you own a business here, it is easy for you to make a self assessment to determine if indeed this would help you. Look at your employees, how long have they been with you? What is the state of your current business? On your management, were they selected for this position because they have been with you along time or because they have proven over time to meet and exceed goals that assist in your business’s growth and profitability?
If your turnover is almost non existent, really your business is not that bad, and your management is goal orientated, you certainly are a candidate and this type of training could certainly help you and your business. If your turnover is high, you have a problem hiring qualified employees, you need to resolve that problem before considering any training. High turnover and problems hiring employees is an easy problem to diagnose, it is either non-competitive pay/benefits or poor management. There is a tendency to blame other sources but after years in senior management, I have found that it always points back to those simple issues. If you pay and benefits are equal to or better than your competition, look at your management and you will find the source of your problems. Many times we want to make these types of problems very complicated but as I said, it is an “easy button”, you just have to be realistic in your assessment. If you think you are competitive in wages/benefits, you have good management but you have problem attracting and keeping qualified employees, take off your rose colored glasses!
In the above, I am assuming that you offer a quality needed service, if not, nothing what I say or anybody else says will make any difference, you are doomed to fail.

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7 Mac August 10, 2009 at 10:51 pm

Last year, I took two 17 year olds fishing with a guide in the bay. My wife had dropped us off and thought I would get a cab back to the condo. A “Yellow cab” driver showed up & he was seriously drugged up. I am not talking pot. Another small detail was a convict looking guy without a shirt in the back seat. The cab driver said he was going drop his friend off with us. Not in a million years would I put myself in that cab much less two kids. PCB government & Business Chamber have a great opportunity but it will take a serious commitment to change the run down businesses that cater to drunks & drug users. Start with requiring random drug tests for cab drivers. Do not even get me started on “Spring Break”.

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8 Rick August 11, 2009 at 6:40 am

…Just my opinion, for what it’s worth. I think the ones that are saying “it is more complicated than just training” or “it’s a management problem” are not practicing a “keep it simple stupid” mindset. It is (at a customer level) as simple as teaching any potential or present employee that is going to have ANY contact with your customers, that that customer is the most important person in the world at that moment. When the phone rings at my business, my employees understand that no matter what else is going on, that callers experience starts RIGHT THEN…long before they ever step foot on out property. You can develope “higher” training for the ones that want it, and you need to nurture those employees…but even the “high turnover” employees need to be taught, the customer in your face (good or bad) is #1 the most important person in you world right now and #2 the reason you have a job. It really is as simple as “if we don’t take care of our customers…Destin will.

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9 John August 11, 2009 at 8:52 am

In the hotel, transportation,
restaurant and night life scenarios,
the customer may be lucky if
the person speaks english.

The business owner may be lucky
if the (student) worker isn’t hung
over from partying till 4 AM the
night before.

We are tying our hands with
our habit of importing cheap
foreign student help, not just
from the training standpoint,
but from many other aspects as well,
including our own employment opportunities.

I routinely stay at Marriott hotels.
They are the best for a frequent traveler.

The Marriott here, as proud
as we are of it, is, from my
experiences, the worst one
I have seen in the entire
Marriott chain – it does not
come close and does not deserve
the name. I have seen incredible
surliness and incompetence in the
restaurant there to the point that
I avoid it, even though it was two
years ago that I was last there.
Complaints to management produced,
as far as I could see, only marginal
imprvoement, partly because the
(Russian) workers either were spread
too thin, did not know what to do,
or just did not care. I am talking
not only about service I got, but
that I saw others (not) get.

Does GCCC have a hospitality course?

Would it be possible to do better for
out seasonal service population ?

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10 Sandy Thompson August 11, 2009 at 9:52 am

Gregg has some excellent points; but, I don’t entirely agree about management being the major problem. If you design a training plan where everyone (each and every employee) buys into the concept of why excellent service is important, sometimes you can weed out the bad managers from the bottom up. Having presented and written classes for hospitality training for over six years, the real importance is to be able to share how it will benefit everyone…including the employees.

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11 Patricia Windward August 11, 2009 at 10:07 am

PCB will always be known as the Redneck Riviera as long as Spring Break exists as a free-for-all drunk fest.
As a part time resident, I see both sides. I see the staff at our resort harried and unfriendly. I have also seen them go out of their way to help someone.. But, what the rest of the country sees video of Spring Break. (ie. the “True Story of Spring Break” as shown on ETV!). It was not a flattering picture.
I have never been anywhere else, nor lived anywhere else in the world, where this type of behavior is tolerated. Until Spring Break is under control, PCB will always have it’s unpleasant nickname and people, who might be inclined to visit, will see an unflattering video of the “goings-on” and will go elsewhere.
Why would anyone want to be subjected to this. So, PCB must clean up its act with hospitality training as well as Spring Break. It gives the whole town a black eye.

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12 Traveling Terri August 11, 2009 at 1:02 pm

As a marketing and training professional from the Midwest area, I can tell you this–no Florida big city can lay a claim to Southern hospitality like PCB potentially can. Unfortunately, the image of drunken spring breakers is what I hear every time I tell someone I bought a winter home there.

On my trips to PCB I have met warm and friendly southerners from the waitress at Olive Garden, to the father and son at the New Orleans coffee shop on Back Beach Road, to the realtor Karen Smith, and so many others! The new airport can potentially open the door to visitors never seen before. Images, friendliness, and impressions talk, and talk, and talk.

If PCB is serious about attracting a family- oriented worldwide clientele, and not images of spring breakers puking and baring all, this is the time to walk the talk! Management can be trained because it starts from the top down. Customer service should be the norm and contests or bonuses can do wonders to provide incentive for lower level employees who might only work a summer. Informed cabbies might get better tips! Business people should feel that not only is more revenue an incentive, but pride carries an intrinsic reward money cannot buy!

Personally, I would like to feel a little better when I tell friends I’m a homeowner in PCB. Please put your money where your mouth is and work on image and training!

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13 Gregg August 11, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Sandy says:
“Gregg has some excellent points; but, I don’t entirely agree about management being the major problem.”

Think I said if wages and benefits are competitive and still turnover is an issue, you must look to poor management or poor management practices as the cause making it not a good place to work.

“Having presented and written classes for hospitality training for over six years, the real importance is to be able to share how it will benefit everyone…including the employees.”

Again I will say, if you do not have a core of stable employees, no amount of training in the world will change anything. You MUST have a stable group with a manager who can mold this group into a solid team working together for success. When you have this, you can ebb and flow your part time employees without effecting dramatically what you have put together. A new employee will look to the ones already there for direction; much of their attitude will be a reflection of your stable work force.

JMO, Spring Break while I agree with the posts made concerning how it presents a negative picture for PCB in many ways (when one thinks of PCB, a wild drunken Spring Break comes automatically to mind), this does effect how the employees present themselves in the hospitality industry, and it is a different issue.

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14 Sandy August 11, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Great comment, Rick.

Gregg, this is not personal, I simply mean that training must start at the lowest paid, part-time individual and go all the way to the top. It may be a management problem if there’s a high turnover…it may also be ineffective or incompetent training. Train the trainer was a program that we used quite effective for food service and housekeeping. As for hiring Russians or other foreign workers, I taught English as a second language for the resort at which I worked. Those that I taught were thrilled to have that training and it helped the business at the resort. I do believe that they want to learn to be better workers.

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15 JeffM August 11, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Comment #9 was on the mark. Anyone who rents their condo thru the rental association has only to schedule it for personal use every now and then to see, firsthand, how poor the housekeeping is. Perhaps we need to pay higher wages, and advertise job opportunities in some of the larger cities within, say, a 300 mile radius. The City should have a strategy for attracting more than tourists to PCB.

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16 Gregg August 11, 2009 at 3:43 pm

I don’t disagree with you at all Sandy, training is important for all levels but if you are experiencing high turnover, until you get to the root of the problem and resolve that, all the training in the world will not help. If you have an employee who is not motivated or does not value their position (for what ever reason, pay/benefits, poor or lack of direction), training, no matter how well administered is not going to stick because they just will plain not care.

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17 Pacino August 11, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Cebo,

You have conflated your desire for better hospitality service with the need for better hospitality service. As a result, you’ve ignored the economics of the situation. It’s one thing to say that the quality of customer service in this area is poor and another to say that business owners ought to invest in more training of their employees. While I agree with the former, the latter can only be determined by the business owner who has to deal with the logistical and financial burdens.

Supply and demand means everything. If you were familiar with this area you would know that there is a shortage of quality and reliable employees, a shortage of a competitive number of wealthy business owners, and a scarcity of capital in general.

Despite these small-town limitations, PCB tourism has thrived by earning the reputation as an economical alternative to other prominent vacation destinations. When you attract frugal vacationers, you get lower customer expectations and a greater tolerance for mediocrity in customer service. You claim that clientele doesn’t separate PCB from other popular vacation spots. I beg to differ. A critical fact about a majority of our visitors is that they are repeat visitors who visit with high frequency. Why? Because of our convenient location and low cost. New Orleans, Orlando, or any other comparable destination doesn’t enjoy half of the tourist loyalty that we do. Then again, they don’t need it.

No offense, but your argument that greater hospitality training is “needed” is naïve. It simply isn’t needed. You, I, and others may desire it, but as long as people keep waiting for hours in the summer sun to eat at our restaurants, check into our hotels, and play put-put golf, the business community will have little incentive to reinvest in significant change.

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18 Gregg August 11, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Just a question to Pacino, you say there is a shortage of quality and reliable employees but the Bay County unemployment rate stands at 9.4%, your statement does not relate to this number, to me anyway.
In addition, with this number of unemployed Bay Countians, why are folks from bringing in people of other countries? Our experience is the same as mentioned, we came back to our condo after a month from the last visit, it was nasty and the sliding glass door were left open after being “cleaned” by two Russian ladies. What is the deal?

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19 Pacino August 11, 2009 at 8:16 pm

Gregg,

First of all, employment rates have little to do with the quality of available workers. Reduced levels in consumer spending will always result in layoffs regardless of the quality of the workers.

Secondly, as one who is intimately connected with the business community, I can tell you that many business owners complain of a dearth of quality and reliable employees available to them in this city. This really shouldn’t be a shock considering the limited pool of workers that any small town presents its business leaders.

All of this explains in part why owners and managers are hesitant to invest in valuable training. If you don’t recognize potential in your employees, then you’re not going to pay them very much and invest in their training. This is only one of the reasons why this town offers such mediocrity in its customer service.

To respond to your last question, it’s simple. Foreigners will work for less than Americans. Is it fair? I don’t think so, but business owners will get away with what they can.

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20 Gregg August 11, 2009 at 9:47 pm

On your second statement, I agree 100%, that is one of the reason we are flooded with illegal’s, they will work for less and “some” business owners will get away with what they can. I see the same thing here.
On your first answer, it’s sort of like what came first, the chicken or the egg. Do you first take care of your employees and then expect them to show their value to the employer or do you expect them to show their value and then the employer show their appreciation by making an investment in them. Some employers expect value from their employees but never reciprocate.
We have been coming to PCB most every year since 1980, before we bought our place which has allowed us to come in every month or two, there are some places, seemingly highly successful, that we see the same people working year after year. Other places, it seems like a different crew every time we walk in, you can guess which places we tend to frequent.

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21 Pacino August 12, 2009 at 2:20 am

Yeah I understand. One of the toughest choices every employer has to make is how much to invest back into their business, whether it is the facility, employee salaries, staff training, etc. However, in the end it’s the bottom line of the owner that matters the most.

If an owner of a business provides low-skill jobs, then there will naturally be a low salary ceiling. If the salary ceiling of the employees is low, then you’ll have a lot of turnover. If there is a lot of turnover, then bosses tend to treat their workers almost as liabilities rather than assets. All of this contributes to an employer investing less into his/her employees, which in turn results in mediocre service, particularly when your target customer is primarily concerned with affordibility instead of quality.

This is simply why the hospitality industry is what it is on PCB.

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22 Traveling Terri August 12, 2009 at 11:22 am

Pacino,
Wow, I’m glad Walt Disney didn’t think like you! I believe this quote would apply to you: If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!

Did you ever hear of the Pike’s Market fish employees who had a pretty grim job dealing with fish AND people all day. They had a turnaround because someone believed they could make their job better and they got training and support from upper management.

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23 Sandy August 12, 2009 at 11:47 am

A couple of thoughts, as I languish in Vermont trying to relax…Re #16, Gregg, I agree about the unmotivated employee. If it were my business, they’d be gone before you could blink! I’ve fired people out of Company Orientation before they even had a chance to start work if I saw bad attitudes.

Terri, you’re obviously an optimist, too. I have heard of the Pike’s Market fish employees (and seen a training tape on that). It was remarkable. We used much of the Disney training concept at Amelia Island Plantation…you really can’t go wrong. First, hire someone who is as smart or smarter than you if you really want to be a smashing success.

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24 Pacino August 12, 2009 at 2:27 pm

So I’m part of the problem? Okaaaay, haha.

Terri, attempting to fix a problem without a clear diagnosis won’t solve anything. I have only tried to add some substance to what is otherwise an unproductive and uninformed rant by Cebo. Saying that PCB’s hospitality industry needs to better train its employees does little to actually improve this community. On the other hand, a more productive article would include a candid analysis of the reasons for PCB’s hospitality mediocrity and a clear admission of the real obstacles which impede our progress. I have tried to add both to this discussion.

Cebo’s comparison of PCB to New Orleans and Orlando is simply uninformed and unfair. The populations, wealth, and clientele are much too different for any useful comparisons. Thus the crux of his argument is unsound. In fact, our clientele means everything to this discussion. Our particular clientele is largely responsible for both our prosperity and our limitation. Over many decades, PCB has evolved as the affordable beach vacation destination. With this label comes both good and bad.

As a result of our growth PCB is in the middle of an identity crisis. We’re sort of like an 18 yr old high school graduate. We’re considered an adult in some ways by society, yet we’re still a teenager. We want to grow up, yet we aren’t quite ready for every adult responsibility. What I mean is, many of PCB’s residents have grown accustomed to the growth and are ready for bigger and better things. In many ways, we are trying to shed our old skin, trying to reinvent ourselves. However, despite our growth and the changes which we have seen, there remains the limiting factors which have always plagued this area. While much has changed over the years, the limiting factors which I’ve described has remained largely unchanged.

Simply put, we will likely need more significant investment from outside of Bay County to take the next step, not to mention, one heck of a marketing campaign to steal some market share away from the Destin area. Given the current economic climate, rapid change doesn’t look promising.

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25 Gregg August 12, 2009 at 2:37 pm

After spending 35+ years in upper manufacturing management in a traditional low wage industry, I would like also comment on the following statement:

“If an owner of a business provides low-skill jobs, then there will naturally be a low salary ceiling. If the salary ceiling of the employees is low, then you’ll have a lot of turnover. If there is a lot of turnover, then bosses tend to treat their workers almost as liabilities rather than assets. All of this contributes to an employer investing less into his/her employees, which in turn results in mediocre service, particularly when your target customer is primarily concerned with affordability instead of quality.”

Certainly Pacino gives the thinking of a lot of folks however my experience has shown me, if you actually provide your employees better pay and benefits than they can find elsewhere in a similar position, this combined with having a manager who takes a personal interest in their folks by understanding with advice, some time off when needed etc, then expectations can rise mainly because all of a sudden now the employee does have something to lose, they just can’t go down the street and get the same thing, turnover tends to drop like a rock. When expectations rise, productivity also goes up. Suddenly you don’t need all the people you needed before, a better job is done and actually costs go down while the quality goes up. It is a win-win situation for everyone.
Just as an added note, an employee should never be a thought of as a liability much less treated like one. You can be assured if the employee thinks that is the way they are looked at, sure enough, they become a liability.

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26 Sandy August 12, 2009 at 3:14 pm

It’s fairly easy to figure out the problem if the owner/management is interested and willing to accept professional advice. And, increased training does lead to better performance which leads to better customer service which leads to a more successful business. People in PCB need to be amenable to new ideas and change in order to improve their image.

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27 Rick August 12, 2009 at 11:09 pm

WOW…what an interesting topic this has become. It is easy to see where the phrase “educated beyond your intelligence” came from. The reality is there is a problem and as business owners / managers, it is our responsibility to fix it at by whatever means possible. I do not spend any money training my employees on how to take care of a customer…I SPEND TIME! I let them know that it is unacceptable for the phone to ring more than twice, I make them understand that if a customer has to wait for ANY service, that they had better at least be spoken to, kept aware of what is going on and be sure they are dealt with in as timely as possible, and as professionally as is expected by ME! I will admit that I have the luxury of not having to have great numbers of employees, and I do get to one on one, train my crews…but how much does it really COST to spend a few minutes with a new hire and explain to them that it is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT to be friendly and courteous to every customer and if you can’t take care of them and solve their problem, you damn sure know who in the organization can. This really isn’t brain surgery folks…it is simple southern hospitality.

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28 Gregg August 13, 2009 at 8:44 am

A very excellent post Rick, it is so easy to point fingers, blame others, the situations, type of business, labor market, etc, etc, but the simple fact it, as you said it “really isn’t brain surgery”, what ever the business owner/manager expects and demands, you can be assured you will always get on average, just a little bit less than that. If you are unable to get what you expect out of your employees in spite of all your efforts it’s time to step back and see what YOU are doing wrong.

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29 Traveling Terri August 13, 2009 at 11:42 am

Rick you are so right on! Time from top management can get the message across that customer service (southern hospitality)is part of the job, not an add-on. You know, budget people like to be treated nice too…and if they are not “expecting much” as Pacino believes, imagine what excellent, and cheap, word-of-mouth advertising would be traveling around telling the PCB story. Yes I’m an optimist but, heck, our lives would all be much better if we didn’t promote negativity.

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