One Bad Apple Can Ruin The Bunch

In this post-recession era, where "wants-based" spending has been rapidly returning to our economy, now more than ever garden centers should be investing in my word of the year for 2016--alignment.

Three years ago the word(s) of the year were trade up! Two years ago, the word of the year was separate! Last year it was consistency and this year it's alignment.

On the topic of alignment, I was in Bermuda last month, headed back home to Ben for a nice two-week "local client" swing (waking up and falling asleep in my own bed while investing quality time with my son was long overdue!!).
As I checked in at the counter, the gate attendant couldn't have been any nicer or more welcoming to me and to my choice to fly Delta. (Great start to the trip)
As I went through security and then to the gate, two additional Delta employees, who smiled and said "hello", greeted me. (Nice extra aligned!!)

As I boarded and the attendant checked my ticket, she said, "thank you for flying Delta today, Mr. Kennedy.  Smiling back I said, "Thank you for flying me home".

Now if these were all geese (see my Geese Get It video on my website), we would be very happy with the direction and intention of each individual effort... aligned for one flock of a good experience.  So far so very good!!

As I came through Atlanta for the first of my four hours of a layover (got to get a new travel agent), I noticed there was an earlier Baltimore flight leaving within the next 30 minutes, so I figured I would push my luck with Delta.

I arrived at the gate to find the flight still boarding. I approached the young lady behind the gate and asked if there we still seats available on the flight. She answered, "Yes".

I asked if I could possibly grab this flight home instead of my later flight. She said, "No".

I looked at the other gate attendant boarding the last passengers and he gave me a "what's up?" look.  I gestured that I was trying to get a ticket on this flight (tough to describe the body language and look on my face, but you get the gist).

He nodded to me as if to say, "Come on aboard", so I asked the young lady again if I could get a seat on this flight to be answered, yet again, "No...they stop boarding 10 minutes before the gate closes".

I suggested that the guy at the gate gave me his approval and she went on to say, "It's $75...and he's not supposed to do that!"

It's at this point you should be hearing the sound of a shot gun echoing as one goose is now flying in a different direction.

And it's at this point that "the good goose of the east" attendant comes over to smooth out the issue. The "bad goose of the west" proceeds to ask for my credit card in a sharp manner, prints out my receipt and ticket, and then looks at the other employee and says, "You happy now?"

And it at this point that I thought, "it only takes one bad apple to ruin the entire experience" (Also known in John Kennedy world as "You are only as good as the person who sucks the most!").

All of the other Delta employees doing their individual parts to make a sincere and diligent effort to provide the best experience possible are now upstaged by an employee at gate B 4 in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. (Note recent PR for Delta as they served pizza to stranded passengers on a plane due to weather. Point is, they are making a concerted effort to change the culture and maybe everyone didn't get the memo).

Now once boarded, the other employee did his very best to smooth over and recover from the hiccup, and I thanked him for the effort. But I also got out the "calculator in my mind" ($75 to change my flight, times the number of people who are willing to do that daily (my guess would be 1000) multiplied by the number of days in a year, and you end up with...wait for it...27 Million Dollars!!)

Now I am sure that there is a reason that this young lady was not too happy to help me--been given a hard time before, fearful environment to work in, not respected, paid or cares too little, bad day, blah, blah, blah; but, we can also agree that it only takes that one bad experience to have someone think twice about using your services.

And in a post-recession economy where wants-based spending is rapidly returning, do you want that existing or prospective client to have even that thought even enter their mind?  I think not!

Who is your one bad apple that may be ruining the bunch?

Either coach them back to the team or release them to another team.

Suggestion: Trade up, separate, and drive consistency through alignment.

There are only a few years left in this economic recovery. Let's make the most of our talent by aligning your brand promise with the consumer's expectations.

When there is a gap between what we do and what the customer wants, there is either opportunity to improve or an opportunity to lose business.  And we all agree we can't afford to lose business before the next economic recession hits.

Have a great rest of the summer and see you in Houston in September!


So... how are your geese flying? How is your company's alignment?

Give John a call or email!

John Kennedy

Cell: (443) 605-7095



John Kennedy is an international speaker, author and strategist specializing in creating cultural alignment within sales and service related industries.  He is a service provider for The Garden Center Group. John has worked with many Group Clients to drive the right balance of sales, service and strategy, and he will be presenting at The Fall Event 2016.

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