Monday, November 30, 2009

Lost Retail Sales and Attitude

Rarely do I grace the doors of shopping centres, simply because I find the floors a challenge for someone with a walking problem.

About 6 weeks before Christmas, I had the opportunity to do some sightseeing in a reasonably large metropolitan shopping centre.

I realize that sales people don’t get paid a lot of money, and a lot of the staff are young people, who maybe just filling in time between courses, careers or better offers. I know that some of them do work on commission, particularly those in the telecommunications industry, and yet the response I got left a lot to be desired.

I must admit I have little patience for shopping, let alone sloppy sales assistants. I dislike shopping at the best of times.

But to walk into a store and have people (staff) standing in the corner talking amongst themselves and not address the customer is very poor decorum. In fact it’s plain bad manners.

I am the sort of person that uses the sales staff as a gauge as to how the store receives and treats its’ customers. I have been known to determine who gets a big ticket sale simply because of the manner of the sales staff and I may have already visited 5 or 6 stores. I could very well go back to the 1st or the 2nd store, simply because of the manner of the staff.

I come from a customer service background, in fact you could say I was born and bred into into it. My parents owned holiday accommodation for as long as I can remember and only recently have they sold the business and moved onto retirement. Yes, I am aware that some customers can be painful, but to assume someone is painful before you have even spoken to them. In other words judging a book by its’ cover, is something that one shouldn’t do in customer service, particularly sales.

I take great pride in the fact that I am not your Average Joe, I don’t dress up, I don’t dress down, I wear clothes that I find comfortable. When you look at me – you would call me ‘middle class’. My hair is tidy, my clothes are clean and ironed. You would see 100’s of people like me every day.

I recall one very vivid memory, I was looking to buy a GPS, long before they became fashionable, before their prices dropped through the floor and when there were really only 2 or 3 brands on the market.

I visited 4 stores in the space or 1 hour, I stood in front of the display cabinets, trying to figure out which brand/model was best suited to my needs.

1st store The young customer sales service guy was helpful, friendly and had a hands on approach, nearly bought the unit there and then, but decided I had better check out the other stores.

2nd store – there were too many chiefs and not enough indians, I couldn’t get anyone to attend to my needs

3rd store – the sales person, ‘sort of’ knew about them, but hadn’t used them and was reluctant to advise me on what may have suited my needs.

4th store couldn’t get the middle-aged salesperson attention – I walked out after about 10 minutes

I returned to the first store and requested to the see the same person, I had originally been speaking to. He was out the back on a tea break. He was retrieved from said break and made a sale. It turns out that this day was his last, as he was moving to another sales position in another chain and I can see why. He had a can do attitude with a pleasant approach.

A smile costs nothing and yet it can be so rewarding!

If you work in sales remember, even to acknowledge someone can keep them in the store until you are free to be able to attend to their needs, wants, or desires!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Silly Saturday

Every Saturday for a little while, which could be weeks or months, I’m going to post the classic funny emails that get circulated.

These are only the crème de la crème and should give you a bit of a giggle, so look out next Saturday for the first of the crop!

If you have any you would like added to the collection - leave comment (with your email) Comment WON'T be published but we then have a means on contact!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Charging Board to School Leavers (or kids still at home)

(Reposted from other blog)
Sitting in the car, whilst Miss17 almost 18 drives me home, (she is on L Plates) School has now finished, last exam was mid-November. We were discussing what her movements would be until the exam results came in and between university.

Response went something along the lines, dunno, I suppose I could find something that’ll get me $100.00 a week. I said what? - $100.00, are you planning on allowing someone to pay you $20.00 a day?

Oh, I’m not going to work full-time. No-one else is. My response to this was, remember once the exam results come in – you are expected to pay board of $50.00 a week.

That’s not fair, I don’t have a job, I said that’s why you have to get a job, $50.00 is nothing. Her response – I can live in a flat for that.

Excuse me!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - $50.00 a week won’t even pay your telephone bill. Rent (Cheap) $120.00 per week, Food $100-$50.00 per week, electricity $50.00 per week, buying your fridge and washing machine and don’t forget your bed etc.

Oh……………………….. is it THAT much?

The head was returned to the shoulders and nothing else has been said, but come the 19th December, a bill of $50.00 has to be paid. It is now in her hands as to how that money is generated and the funds paid.

I’m not the only parent having this conversation, friends of ours, waited until their son finished university before they decided to charge board. He kicked up at the $50.00, same argument, same results.

When will kids learn, that nothing is for nothing and ‘digs’ like the parents are even more expensive if you want to move out.

How many rentals have someone to do the washing, cooking, cleaning AND pay the bills on time?
No commercial properties that I am aware of!

Remember the responsibility of board is a learning experience, so charge the kids and put the money aside for a house deposit or similar in later life. But charge them on principle, it teaches them another life lesson!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

An Experiment in TV

It must be getting closer to Christmas, all the free-to-air (FTA)TV stations have reverted to repeats and treating the viewer like a guinea pig, or is that monkey? When you get a reward for acting the way they want you to.

Every year, early to mid November all the regular shows that I enjoy watching on FTA TV are removed or moved to some stupid time slot. Doesn’t matter that I record everything I watch, it matters that the timing of the recording is no longer relevant and I have to re-set everything.

So once were I might be watching CSI or Criminal Minds, or some other mildly interesting but mind-numbing show, I get some stupid show about ‘bewdiful’ people in the USA parading around on red carpet and acting the goat.

I’m sorry, that’s NOT why I watch your crappy channel and why I supplement my viewing with Foxtel.

Foxtel has its’ own dangers, too much garbage, made by second rate producers, but some and I stress some of the shows can be very interesting, if you can get past the introduction.

I watch Foxtel mostly for the factual/truth/discovery type programs and reserve the FTA viewing for my more light-hearted, less involved type viewing.

I don’t particularly like too much choice, it makes life confusing, why have 200 stations, when perhaps 50 with high quality content would suffice?

I remember when Foxtel first came on the scene, people thought it was the best thing out. I resisted acquiring Foxtel for many many years, remembering that Foxtel made its’ debut onto the Australia market in 1995. What I saw of it then, only impressed upon me the fact you were paying for repeat TV every 8-12 hours. In other words in Aussie slang, a wank of a feature. Only get if you wanted to impress your mates with how much money you have.

FTA TV remained my best friend for the next 12 years. I refused to pay for something that I could otherwise receive for free and the content was not often repeated.

One day things changed. I was stuck on the couch for 4 months and Foxtel saved my butt, or at least my mind. I still record everything I want to watch from FTA TV, and watch live anything that catches my fancy on Foxtel, when I get the time to sit down.

I still say that FTA TV has a place in our life and I believe that those less fortunate who can’t/or shouldn’t afford Foxtel, should still be able to learn something from FTA TV, even if it is how to clean the kitchen or do the odd home renovation. FTA TV is not for dummies, it is for Aussies, who shouldn’t have to pay for quality TV viewing in what the TV stations consider off-peak viewing periods.

**FTA = Free-to-Air TV

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What are you laughing at?

How many times have you heard this statement? – be it from a workmate, a lover, friends or partner.

I read anything in the printed the form and if there is no book handy, often a novel, I will read the back of the cereal packet. I love reading. I’ll read almost anything.

I was reading a cheap novel, not even sure where it came from, probably swapped between other book lovers, as often happens. This exert made me laugh and put a smile on my face. Just imagine me as Bertha

“Bertha wasn’t worried about Indians bothering her; she knew they thought it was bad medicine to mess with crazy people. And what could be crazier than an old woman on a mule out here by herself?”

From Jessie’s Outlaw, Author:Cheryl Anne Porter 1993

What books have you read that bring out bouts of laughter, giggles or even tears?

Your feedback is greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Schoolies – My Job as a Parent

My Job as a parent is almost over. My daughter will be 18 this month, she has finished Year 12, (with Certificate of Merit) and the exams are completed. All in all the year has been reasonable – not too stressful for either parent or student.

Ms almost 18 came to me last week and said I have been invited to go away for schoolies……… I was dreading the thought. Before I was able to comment, she then piped up………………. “But I don’t want to go, I don’t want to be babysitting them, while they get drunk and stuff”

This got me thinking – firstly I must have done a good job parenting, if she can already see this, secondly what is ‘and stuff?’

She told me some of what the girls are planning, getting drunk, trashing wherever they go, seeing if they can find some marijuana and get stoned. I imagine in there is the gratuitous sex, possibly unprotected. Oh I can’t bear to think about it.

In her wisdom, she said no. She realized it would lead to nothing but trouble, that she wouldn’t be able to enjoy herself as she would be babysitting the immature people of the party.

I understand that some people, both parents and children see muck-up-day and schoolies as a sign of growing up – what happened to getting your first car, getting your license, being allowed out late, your first legal drink.

My daughter already has a car, she is well on the way to getting her licence, she is allowed out late, (midnight) as long as I can pick her up. She may have tasted one or two alcoholic drinks but has certainly not been drunk.

These are all benchmarks in the growing up part of life. If parents think it is okay to allow the 15yo out after 10pm and not know where they are, that is not my problem. My problem is my child and where she is and what she is doing.

Schoolies is just another excuse for another party. What I want to know is where is the money coming from to fund this alcoholic binge? – If it is coming from the parents, they ought to be ashamed in permitting good money to be thrown away in this manner.

If this money is coming from government money, then they are being paid too much.

If this money is coming from part-time work, then the expenditure is fine, because the children have had to save the money and have learnt a lesson in doing do. My problem is that money could well be spent on something far more worthwhile.

Perhaps I am a party spoiler, perhaps I am too strict, but I certainly know where my children are, what they are doing and when they are doing it.

Schoolies is asking for trouble and from an accommodation point of view – I fully understand WHY certain establishments REFUSE all male or all female parties AND why around schoolies week they vet heavily AND increase costs. It’s called self-protection from a selfish minority.

If you have children attending ‘schoolies’ please please read them the riot act and hopefully no harm will come to them.

Monday, November 23, 2009

How Retailers Can Ruin their Future Income for a Lifetime

I am so mad at the moment. I teach my children independence, I teach my children how to do things without an adult standing over them. Things that many adults have difficulty with.

2 weeks ago (to the day) we purchased a game from a gaming store in Epping Plaza who is also a second hand dealer, who specialises in the PSP, Xbox type games.

Being trusting we purchased the game with scratch insurance. Me thinking that would stop any accidents and for the sake of a few dollars, worth it.

My son (12yo) decided that he didn’t like the game, as they stated ‘satisfaction guarantee” My son decided to return the game and try and find something else. I know for fact he may have played this game twice in the preceding two weeks. We haven’t been home between school and sporting commitments.

He went into the said store to swap, exchange or get a gift card refund. He was informed that he had had the game for 3 weeks. OMG – who is having a bad day?

He decides this is bigger than him and calls for his knight in white shining armour to save him and his birthday money. So mum rides into the picture.

We both walk into the store and are advised after checking calendars and fingers (yup, seriously) that this purchase was a 15 days!

Let’s do the sums – purchase made 30.10.09 17.46hrs – today is the 13.10.09 17.15hrs.

So that is NOT quite 14 days – it’s 13 days, 23.5hours to be precise.

Two staff members were adamant that it was 15 days – I asked to see to manager, only to be advised that he would be back in 10 minutes. I leave said store, find somewhere to sit and on the back of an envelope I broke the fortnight down into 24hour periods (for simpletons) .

I then re-entered the store and was advised that the manager had left!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was just about to turn my back, when he miraculously re-enters the premises. I show him the simpleton calculations and he advised me that it was 15 days, INCLUDING the day it was purchased AND the 14th day!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello – the period in discussion is 14 days not 15. Friday to Friday to be precise, with ½ hour to spare. (to be technical)

After showing the manager the simpleton’s working – he agreed to refund the cost of the game BUT not the scratch insurance. Saying that the disc was scratched!!!!!!!!!!!

Ummmmmmmmm – hate to tell you – it was purchased second-hand, I suppose the previous owner scratched it. For me the ‘scratch insurance’ was if it didn’t work due to a scratch, but I must be too honest.

My son has lost 15% of his birthday money and is upset about what has occurred, even he knew that Friday to Friday is 14 days NOT 15.

He now tells me, that he will never go back to that store, I said to him what about the gift card refund. He advised me he would spend that money at another store, in another centre and never go back to that store AND he said he would tell his friends.

My son goes to a private school of some 1700 students very close to this shopping centre, in other words 1700 kids who don't drive and thus are a captive audience, so don’t blame me if turnover decreases, there are other gaming stores in the same centre.

And………….. if you are unable to work out that Friday to Friday is 14 days AND NOT 15 days then perhaps you shouldn’t be working in retail.

Now before you jump down my throat and call me rude and pushy. My children, may be opinionated, but they are honest and they will only argue a case, that is fair and square. If a business tries to pull the wool over their eyes, they will take it further.

As this mother taught these children these qualities, she taught them, don't tell lies, tell the truth, the retailer if they are honest will understand. If they are dis-honest, then you have no need for their goods or services in the future.

Remember bad news travels 10 times faster than good and in the world of cashed-up teenagers, who don't have a car to get to the next shopping centre, you really should look after your customers, or they will move to the other store in the same centre.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Do you have a will?

Sounds morbid doesn’t it?

Well seriously, it doesn’t matter what age you are – from the moment you start working, you start collecting assets.

Be it that lovely collection of beer cans, dolls, or even your car. The money in your bank account will be frozen until probate clears, if you don’t have a will, then the process is far more complicated.

Have you thought about what will happen to your assets, no matter how minor they seem, once you depart this mortal earth?

If you have a will, the process of getting the money or proceeds of sales from assets is far easier for everyone. If you do not have a will, the process is very complicated and long winded.

By having a will, the decision as to who gets what is simplified and clarified, it speeds things up.

By NOT having a will, no one person is responsible and assets are distributed by a formula set by the government, which may include an ex-partner, to whom you haven’t spoken to for many years.

For peace of mind, get a will, it might cost $100-$200 for the will, but you have peace of mind. If there are children involved and you don’t have a will, what happens to your assets? They may not be divided the way you want them to be divided.

Remember also that if your situation changes, you will need to update your will. As your children get older, as your relationships change, as the value of assets change, all these changes need to be accounted for as you travel the road of life.

Don’t assume that the will you drew up when you are 18 will still apply when you are 30. By that time you could be married and divorced.

There are so many factors that can affect your circumstances. Keep up with the changes.

Get a will today – you never know what is around the corner

And don't forget your online presence - If you were hit by a bus tomorrow…………

Monday, November 9, 2009

Uh Oh – Who stays home?

A modern day dilemma – little Johnny or Jill is sick and can’t attend school/crèche/kinder – who will stay home and look after them?

This is a problem that arises once the family is created. In days gone past, it was the woman, even today it is most often the woman. It is the woman who forgoes the sick leave/personal leave the annual leave to look after sick children, whilst the male partner goes to work with little concern for anything other than themselves.

Alright, the men turn around and say that Jennifer gets the day off, to bum around home and who cares, the boss won’t miss them.

Not only do men have deadlines to be met and completed, women do also. This means that a woman is often behind the 8-ball when it comes to work. If little Johnny/Jill is sick for more than one day – how many times do the male partners put their hands up and offer to stay home for the second day? Very very few.

I am not being discriminatory, this is truth.

In today’s society where women are often expected to be as good as the male species. Then why don’t the male of the species do the things that many women do with 1 hand tied behind their backs?

How many men out there know how to use the washing machine, know what temperature woollens have to be washed at. Know where the Medicare card is for visits to the doctors, let alone finding the doctors’ number to make an appointment. Once again very few.

This is not an urban myth – it takes a special kind of man to be able to do this and there are very few who can run a home AND work AND everything else associated with modern day life.

Just remember next time that your wife, your childrens' mother, says she has a headache, maybe she does and it’s time for you to pick up the slack.

Go home and remember – home is where there should be shared responsibilities and that sports day doesn’t mean a day at the golf club/pub for the men ;)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Children in wolves clothing

I saw a picture the other day of a child, (a child of famous parents actually), she was wearing high heels (of 5cm) at the tender age of 5 or 6 years old. She was wearing a skirt that was more suited to a person of perhaps 18-25 years old (if you have the legs)

I am sure you get my drift.

But……… what made me write this is that my daughter, (yes, previously featured) was shopping with her aunty for clothes for an 18 month old girl. Easy you would think, pants, little skirts, t-shirts etc.

My daughter came home and said “Mum, aunty, bought clothes that even I wouldn’t wear. She is asking for trouble from paedophiles”

I thought OMG – is that really what my 17yo, almost 18yo thinks of some clothes. I asked what she was talking about and she related to me, that aunty didn’t think a little girl should wear pants, it’s not appropriate.

FFS – This is for a child that is still in nappies, hardly walking and can not walk up and down stairs!

I thought back to my children and their nappy days, unless the weather was unbearably hot, they were always in pants/shorts and nappies. Rarely was my daughter in skirts, simply because I believed it infringed on her freedom to discover the world, would prevent her from crawling and her knees would constantly be grazed.

By making children mini-me’s of mum (it seems to happen more with girls that boys) are we creating a problem, physically, by not allowing children to crawl around and hurt their knees etc, and then there is the mental aspect. We are so concerned about children being sexualised too early and yet we allow them to dress like adults at such a tender age.

Leave children to be children. Leave the skirts and fancy dresses for dinner and parties, not going to crèche and day care.

Let the littlies of this world experience the world as children.

Plus think of the money you will be saving! – No more latest fashions unless you go out, no more unworn grown out of clothes in the cupboards. Save the money for the special events and let your kids wear the same clothes more than once.

Trust me no-one will notice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!