The Customer Doesn’t Care About Your Burglar

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The Customer Doesn't Care About Your Burglar

Keeping customers happy - and loyal - requires a deft hand. Screw them once, pay the price forever.

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I came in expecting this to be about piracy and DRM. Interesting read regardless. Customers can be fickle, but they are just looking after their own interests.

Ouch. That's never happened to me, but it certainly sounds like it could happen at any time.

Reminds me of the time I worked at an independent games store, it was the middle of one of the hottest summers yet I was sat there with the manager, explaining to him what games were gonna be the Christmas hits what quantity we were gonna need and how we couldn't go through another Christmas with only two members of staff on the tills. (He being a lazy swine that sat in his office, calling his bit on the side all day)

Well we got to the end of October and I was called in on my day off (the manager had a great way of calling in sick when there was a large delivery expected) attached to the delivery note was an invoice for all of our Christmas deliveries and invoices for all the stock, in all it was a quarter of what I'd recommended. Well we got to the beginning of December we had none of the new releases that everyone wanted for Christmas gifts, we sold practically nothing for a month and closed our doors on the 10th of January.

I loved that job but by the Heavens did it teach me the perils of retail.

Well... At least you were never knifed by a shoplifter and the cops might be slow, but they're probably not being bribed by the local mafia. Right?

In short: don't be a dickmanager and invest in security.
Thanks, I'll remember that (seriously)
image
Unity-Fu, Is that some sort of Pandarian group buff?

Balls to retail man. Seriously. Good read though.

I was offered to manage an old used-game/console repair shop on Friday... now I am not so sure... O.o

I wish my boss didn't look at bar business like this. Regulars (Especially in the bar scene) should be rewarded. Not only does (For example) Frankie come in every single night, but he spends at least 10-20$ a day and actually has a designated spot. The guy spends 5-10 thousand a year (That means he's worth around a grand in tips for me a year) at our establishment and my boss won't even let me throw him a free one now and then, I have to take it out of my own pocket.

Regulars keep your business around, I wish more managers would understand that. Regulars and friendly, personable staff. When people come in just to see certain staff members, you know you've made a good hire.

Sounds like you screwed over your supplier and had shit security and it came back to bite you in the ass. Seems more like the issues that caused the store to fail were the failings of ownership rather than anything management had any control over. There should have been bars put over the window after the first break in once it was apparent how vulnerable the shop was to burglary.

Excellent article, and a good read. I haven't worked retail by the Escapist has put up some fascinating articles about it.

John the Gamer:
Well... At least you were never knifed by a shoplifte

We did have shoplifters once - to my knowledge, anyway, because I caught them. They were the dumbest kids going, the most obvious thieves, and they lifted the one truly worthless thing in the shop: a WWF CCG box. Seriously, as punishment I ought to have made them keep it. Instead I turfed them out, and they didn't come back. No knives, though.

So, bottom line is don't be cheap and an asshole.

Also, this story points out, indirectly, why the term "consumer" is so bad compared to "customer". Treating people like "consumers", they're just cattle to you, so, naturally, they also have no loyalty to you to help your business in troubled times. However, treating people like "customers" garners a personal relationship and strengthened bond that will last through even the worst of times. Very few businesses today, both large and small, seem to truly understand the distinction, and the reporting of the media generally only clouds this even further.

What a pointless article, anyone with any kind of business sense would not have made those mistakes. The owner deserved to lose his business for making such obvious and stupid mistakes.

Edit: Oh and the author was a terrible manager. If you knew that around 6 regulars would be requiring 2 to 3 boxes each WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU ORDER 2?

geizr:
So, bottom line is don't be cheap and an asshole.

Pretty much--but I've always been surprised at how difficult it is to take the better route. If your choices are to eat properly for the next month or put bars on the windows, it's really hard to knuckle down and do that, especially if you have a family.

Not being an asshole though; that's the kind of thing that just can't be changed. It's why we have laws to protect workers: because enough people are assholes who will screw you over. Because you aren't a customer, you're the fuck who's giving (or costing) me fuckin' money.

But being nice won't pay your bills either. It will, however, get support from a community and if your business last long enough, hopefully gather people who will go out of their way to shop at your store. Again, you have to think long term to enact this mindset and that can be hard when you can't pay your heating bills. Going home and freezing every night isn't a healthy way to live.

Still; it's better to be kind and better to at least try and act for the long term: it pays off in spades, if you can make it.

fundayz:

Edit: Oh and the author was a terrible manager. If you knew that around 6 regulars would be requiring 2 to 3 boxes each WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU ORDER 2?

Nowhere said they ordered 2- just that they were sent 2. Supply does not always meet demand.

So being robbed is unfortunate and perhaps led to the other problems, however, some of these seem like nobrainers. Pay your bills and keep your customers happy is fairly straight forward. I mean, I get that it's not easy and it's really terrible when there is a break in. I wouldn't operate a gaming store to save my life - it's just not worth it to me.

Note to self: Pay someone $8 an hour to sleep in the store overnight with a shotgun.

I did have an idea for a store. Say someone had something of value and didn't need it, they could give it to me, and then I could sell it to someone else. Any bits and bobs would do, so long as it could be useful. That could be a lot of stuff if you think about it.

Does that sound like a good idea?

Dutch 924:
I did have an idea for a store. Say someone had something of value and didn't need it, they could give it to me, and then I could sell it to someone else. Any bits and bobs would do, so long as it could be useful. That could be a lot of stuff if you think about it.

Does that sound like a good idea?

Yeah it does, it called the Salvation Army and Goodwill. Wow you just got hit by a 60 year old ninja attack. I'm slightly jealous.

The safe is a very important thing. I worked at a gas station for a while, it was 24 hours. The retailer was a good hearted fellow to be honest, but when it came to security he wasn't tough enough with corporate head office. All the tobacco products were left in unlocked cabinets in the back office, and the petty cash(not so petty amount usually around the sum of 1000 dollars) just sitting there beside 45000+ dollars worth of cigarettes. That is the main problem with the gas station business, especially a station right off a major artery on a very busy highway; your customer base was 2000+ people during a weekday. More if it was a nice weekend. You needed to have a large overhead of expensive products to meet the demand.
One night we got hit. The thieves came in through the backdoor unheard, and made their way into the locked office door. This door was a heavy fucking door with a lock that went directly into the metal frame of the building. They knew what they were doing, these weren't your everyday thug, they scouted, planned, and attacked. We lost almost 50000 dollars worth of product and cash. Lucky for the retailer we had an electric dropsafe that was controlled by Brinks or we would have been out probably close to 100,000$

If you get into retail make sure your security is good from the front door right to the back door. Don't fuck around with it. Spending the extra money on proper equipment and monitoring services will end up saving you money. People don't realize this.

Of course the insurance covered the lost product and cash, but we has no cigarettes for restock the shelves. He ended up losing sales + had to deal with hiked up premiums.

My basic thought here is that like most people going into retail, the victims in the article didn't really do their research first and look at what they were in for. See, before opening a business one of your first concerns has to be security, which is an expense nobody likes, and always seems like it's wasteful/not needed when it works since successful security means "nothing happens" rather than anything dramatic. Many businesses never think about securing their premises, and instead focus entirely on the lease/rent, utilities, liscences, and of course stocking product, when really none of that matters if you can't protect what your setting up. Spending thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars on a good safe built into the building's foundation for example might seen excessive, but consider what it saves after multiple robberies, it's best done as an initial expense.

Granted at this level hiring guards isn't viable, but on the issue of security in general this is what I used to do for a living. The casinos where I worked always wanted to cut the security department, and frequently did, as we were seen as an unnsessicary drain, until stuff started to happen, and then they hired more people, and let the department slide again once things were quiet. It's a very easy thing to do with security in general, whether it's safes, bars on the windows, and changing your locks and cameras and stuff once in a while, or maintaining human resources. A good lock keeps honest people honest so to speak, you never know how many people considered breaking that lock and decided it was too risky or not worth the trouble, or looked at the bars in your windows and decided you were too tough a nut to crack. Just as on a night where nothing happened, you never know how many people didn't get rowdy, or decided not to try and do something just because they saw uniformed security officers around (and never having acted, security never had to intervene). The point here being is that no matter the type, security is a deterrant.

There are other issues involved in this story as well, but that's a big one, and it's a common mistake. Even world class businesses make these kinds of mistakes because the value of GOOD security is present in what you never see, rather than what you do see so to speak.

This article felt like a contrived, slightly schizophrenic mess. I came in expecting to read something about learning to fear the wrath of the consumer and how voting with your wallet can have a greater impact than you realise as spoken through the eyes of the retailer. What i got instead was a rant about how lazy business practices like refusing to pay suppliers on time, ignoring security as a vital aspect of running a private business and what i can only describe as an overwhelming case of Murphy's Law ended up running the author into the ground. It came across as nothing more than a sob story that's probably the swan song of nearly every small business retailer that either can't make it in a rough neighbourhood or has been muscled out by the larger competition. I realise my comment may come off as harsh, but really now; i expect something a bit more relevant to the reader and with a much greater sense of poignancy, not an agony aunt letter about some misfortune that happened a while back. You were on the cusp of dealing with a great point in regards to how you treat your regulars - and the consumer base as a whole - until it became convoluted with anecdotes of break-ins and bitter suppliers. Next time, try to be a little bit more focused on the direction of your article.

I LOVE the fact that the idiot owner didn't put the bars in the window after the first robbery. Or if not after the first, the second time he must have realized it was going to cost more NOT to have the bars.

The one thing a business can't afford more than anything is an idiot boss who will stoop to pick up a penny while dollar bills fly over his head. You certainly have to save every penny you can in retail, as there WILL be months that you are in the red, but you have to pick the proper places to save money and the places to spend it. Decent security is a place you don't want to be saving money.

Our shop has been broken into before, we've got the alarm now, we chain the doors and we chain the driveway. We also have a camera system recording to hard drive. We have yet to be successfully broken into since.

Damn. I hate hearing about game shops like that going under.

Too bad they didn't make a brown shooter or an MMO instead of selling Magic cards. Apparently, that'll get you customer loyalty that would survive you raping their mothers with their father's disembodied heads...

Edit: Damn forum software. Double-post removed.

And yet I got screwed by steam two days ago when they hiked 2 games in my region to double the price. Cheers, arseholes. I quickly found an online cd-key seller and bought games from there instead. I still use the steam platform, but I won't be buying from them for a long time. OH, then there was EB. **** you EB.

Note to self, after the second burglary, fire-trap the alarm to burn down the the entire block.

Oops. Guess I shouldn't have stored my jerry cans in the back.

238U.

Sounds, tough. But I guess it worked out for the best.

Consumers do not care, if they did we would have better products because the powers that be would have to bend alittle. Since voters...er... consumers do not care the over all system dose not care.

Scottieburke:
And yet I got screwed by steam two days ago when they hiked 2 games in my region to double the price. Cheers, arseholes. I quickly found an online cd-key seller and bought games from there instead. I still use the steam platform, but I won't be buying from them for a long time. OH, then there was EB. **** you EB.

Publisher sets price, not Valve.

Rule #1: You gotta spend money to make money.
Security is a priority in retail. Sure you can save money by not paying out for it, but that "save" turns to "cost" when you become an easy target.
Also, when running a hobby store for CCG's/TTRPG's/TTSG's, know this: You're in a niche market and you're going to have limited clientele. Thus, cater to them because there are so few of them that losing 1 or 2 can sink your business. Also you probably are going to be in debt up to your eyeballs and your store isn't going to make money in the first or second years if you make it that far.
So when opening a "gaming" store, realize you're doing it for the fun of it and don't expect to get boatloads of money from it.
This from having a roomate who owned one of those stores. He owned it for a year, sold it to my other roomie who quickly ran it into the ground.

Asehujiko:

Scottieburke:
And yet I got screwed by steam two days ago when they hiked 2 games in my region to double the price. Cheers, arseholes. I quickly found an online cd-key seller and bought games from there instead. I still use the steam platform, but I won't be buying from them for a long time. OH, then there was EB. **** you EB.

Publisher sets price, not Valve.

I contacted support over it. Their reply: 'Apologies for any inconvenience, steam is constantly scanning regional prices to bring titles more in-line with local retailers.'

As far as I'm concerned they did it. not the publisher.

This brings to mind a bit of market research that was shared with me very early in my management career. The research in question was a gallop poll about customer satisfaction and loyalty. This poll was the results of a 2 questions asked. 1. How many people do you tell about a good experience you've had at a business and 2. How many people do you tell about a bad experience you've had.

The answer to the first question was between 1-2 people. The answer to the second was between 7-10. After reading that bit of research, I made over 100 copies and gave one to all my management staff. From there, I kept copies and gave them out when I would be transfered to other stores.

I've found, over the years, that the results of that poll have not changed much, if at all. First rule of business, always ensure your customers never have a negative experience at your establishment. If they do, go out of your way to correct it. Second rule, take care of your employees. If they are unhappy, your customers will be unhappy.

What most companies fail to understand is that customers are people. People that will drive the business, staff the store(s) and either make the business a success or a failure.

5 breakins in a month and you couldnt come up with a "hire a guard for a week and catch the bastard" or at least "bar the window he got in though for 5 times in a row"?

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