I love the local Kroger. It's close enough to walk to, though I always drive. It's got great produce, dozens of cheeses, an olive bar, hard to find food from around the world, a decent selection of meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, bread, beer, and wine. The prices are competitive. The staff is mostly high school kids who are invariably pleasant, energetic, and helpful. Except for Mabel (not her real name).
Mabel strikes me as... bitter. While the kids are kids, Mable is either older than I am or has lived a really hard life so that she appears older than I am. Maybe she resents having to work in a store with kids young enough to call her grandma. Who knows the reason. Or cares.
The point is that in a store with great service and helpful people, Mabel is the opposite. Where the kids call someone for a price check or give the customer the benefit of the doubt, Mabel doubts the customer, even for trivial amounts. While the kids apologize for the imposition of asking for an ID when the customer writes a check, Mabel treats the mere fact that customers want to write a check as an imposition.
As a shopper, Mabel makes you feel bad for shopping at Kroger and bothering her. She shows her irritation with a sneer, curl of the lip, exasperated sigh, and more. Worse than the attitude she shows customers is the potential that her attitude might infect the kids.
Mabel is poison. If left in place, sooner or later she will poison someone else. Then the disease will spread and the store will suffer.
The competition is waiting. Two miles to the east and two miles to the west are Tom Thumb stores, Kroger's top local competitors. Both stores have upgraded after the Kroger opened. Two miles to the north is a Sprouts, with better quality food, though less selection.
The perfect contrast is the Wal-Mart on the other side of town. The great Stubie Doak relayed his experience buying groceries at Wal-Mart.
Upon entering the store, Stubie grabbed a shopping cart.
"I was saving that cart just for you," exclaimed the Wal-Mart greeter with a smile.
"Well thank you," replied Stubie. "It's perfect."
Stubie said the greeter extended his hand. Stubie shook it and the greeter said, "I bet you're the type of person who never has a bad day."
Stubie said he felt great the rest of the day. In fact, he considered asking the greeter if he would adopt him.
Do you have any Mabels or Wal-Mart greeters on your team? Each affects those around them. Each affects the desire of your customers to do business with you again.