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Thank You: Business 101
September 2, 2009

This evening I purchased some fluorescent lights at the local Home Depot. The cashier (wearing a dirty white t-shirt) took my money without saying a word. When she handed my change, she wasn't even looking in my general direction and consequently dropped it. She picked up the quarter and dime and silently placed it into my hand. No "Thank You". Not even a "Have A Nice Day". I reminded her that she should always look the customer in the eye and say "Thank You" after a purchase. To which she replied... "No... We don't do that."

The woman behind me, who looked to be in her 40's (and therefore familiar with a period in time when clerks did say thanks) laughed as I said, "Oh, I see, you don't do that."

And I believe her. Her parents and Home Depot evidently failed to teach her to say that.

Not to single Home Depot out, a former Target employee told me management doesn't teach them to say "Thank You" there either. In fact, I recall reminding a Target cashier to say the magic words after handing me my receipt. With a confused look on her face, she replied "But, I'm the one who sold you the item." I attempted to explain that she isn't doing me a favor. But my words fell on deaf ears. She just didn't get it. Better stock up on red polos babe. You're going to be here a while.

Sometimes, in an effort to give them a crash course in Business 101, I will say "Thank You" very deliberately and slowly as a gentle reminder. On a good day, that will prompt a "Thank You", but most of the time the reply is "No Problem".

It better not be a problem that I'm spending my money with you and keeping you in this job you ungrateful little...

Undoubtedly, one of the secrets (if it can be called that) to Letterhead Fonts' success is that I drill it into everyone who works with me that without the customer we would be out of business and they therefore wouldn't have jobs. Now, of course that seems logical for most business-minded folks, but sadly, too many people don't think that way. Rather, a job is an entitlement to them. Not something they earn, but something they deserve.

"Thank You" should be more than just a throw away phrase. When an employee realizes that his job is on the line, it takes on real meaning and saying it with sincerity comes pretty darn easy.

If you're like me, the appalling lack of customer service and simple courtesy in retail establishments has driven me to buy more of what I need online. It's just less insulting and best of all, at the end of the transaction, the shopping cart says "Thank You".