I would like to tell two stories and let you decide for yourself.
A friend of mine stops to get a latte at a local coffee house. She doesn’t see the cash only sign and proceeds to order from the barista. She receives her coffee and attempts to hand her credit/debit card to the employee. The employee, with attitude, tells her that it is cash only.
My friend is totally embarrassed, apologizes to the person helping her, and is frozen, not knowing what to do next. That’s okay, the employee knows what to do–he dumps the coffee out right in front of her, and looks to the next person in line for their order.
I take my students on a field trip to the food carts on Mississippi. It is Halloween. I have never heard of this before, but everything is closed. For trick or treating? No big deal, I think, there are plenty of restaurants on this street–let’s walk by some of those and see what we can observe, and hopefully learn.
Most of the restaurants are closed. ? Seriously? Because it’s Halloween? Anyway, I keep trying (I’m not looking too good to my students at this point, they used to think that I knew what I was doing).
I see a good reliable place up ahead, and suggest we stop by there. Closed. Remodeling. At least they have a good excuse. Suddenly, the owner appears out of nowhere, apologizes for the inconvenience and hands out coupons to everyone for a free taco when they reopen in a couple of weeks.
Which would you do?
It does seem a bit obvious. However, how often is the poor choice made? How expensive is it to give out a free cup of coffee? Some good will at that point would have gone a long way. My friend, instead of telling everyone how awful your coffee house is, could be telling everyone how cool you were to give her the latte, and how she is going to go back, again and again.
The man giving out free tacos understands this. A free taco, which might cost him thirty cents, is going to lead to a lot of business down the road. Besides the positive message and approach he has taken, these students are going to go in for their free taco, bring a boyfriend, order four more tacos, and a couple of beers! At least.
Back to the training thing. Make sure you are teaching your employees about good and bad marketing. And then give them permission to buy a customer a cup of coffee or a taco.