Friday, September 01, 2006

Breaking Stuff

I was conducting an in-home estimate recently. During the meeting, the pest control guy showed up to spray the home. The homeowner let the guy in and we kept touring her home. All of sudden, we heard a crash. Something had been broken by the pest control guy.

We both ran into the living room to find that a picture frame had been broken. I was intrigued to see how the pest control guy would handle this situation. Here's what he did right:

1. He apologized for the mishap.
2. He cleaned up the mess of broken glass.
3. He offered to pay for the broken frame.

You could see the frustration wearing off on the homeowner's face. She was happy with the pest control guy's response to the situation. Until he came back with a check from his personal checking account. I couldn't believe it. This guy was literally paying for his mistakes.

The homeowner asked if the pest control company reimbursed employees for mistakes like this one. The pest control guy said, "nope". You could see that he wasn't happy about paying for the frame. And you could see that the homeowner wasn't happy about it either.

I used to work in a lab. I broke beakers, tubes, and flasks everyday. Never once did I think that I would have to pay for a broken beaker. Breakage was an operating expense for the lab because it was inevitable. People make mistakes.

Breakage occurs in your home too. We break things from time to time. When we break them, we do the same thing as the pest control guy. Except that Two Maids & A Mop pays for the breakage. Not our employees.

Obviously, this pest control company is looking to save some precious money. But, what is it losing as a result if its penny pinching?

1. Employee Morale. This guy hated his company because he had to pay for the breakage.
2. Employee Dishonesty. How many times does the pest control guy hide the breakage?
3. Customer Attrition. What happens when the customer finally discovers the hidden breakage?

A company's reaction to a minor problem usually indicates that company's major problems.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:29 PM

    Gosh, I own a business myself and I was always under the belief that it was illegal to make employees pay for breakage. I am not sure where I read that...but I would bet that the pest control company is out of line. What if the guy smashed into a Mercedes as he pulled into the driveway? Would he have to pay for it out-of-pocket? Or would the company's insurance pay? Anyway, I enjoyed reading your blog. You seem like good business people.