Are Some of your Employees Ruining your Brand?

I’ve been considering purchasing a franchise, and one I’ve been researching is Jimmy Johns. Jimmy Johns has a great story, and I’ve loved their sandwiches since my first visit. When I worked in Chicago, I would get a #16 wrap four days out of five from the shop in the AON building. The service was fast and friendly, the food was consistent and delicious.

So I was very disappointed when a friend, Michelle, told me about a recent experience she had at Jimmy Johns. She visited a JJ in a well-heeled town in DuPage County (rhymes with Paperville) around 11 AM on a weekday. She was the only customer in the shop. Three employees were present. Sounds like a recipe for fast service, Michelle thought.

Michelle ordered 5 sandwiches. The order-taker rolled his eyes.

Michelle watched as the sandwiches were made. One person made one sandwich at a time, even though she ordered three identical sandwiches. Another person continued doing prep for the lunch rush. The final person moved in slow-motion wiping an invisible spot on the wall.

Michelle wondered if she would soon discover what it was like to eat someone’s hair. The sandwich-maker (I’ll call him San) and the invisible-spot-cleaner (I’ll call him Spot) had long hair…and no hairnets.

Michelle was growing impatient. These two employees were moving very slowly, as if they were under water.

Michelle was slow to judge, but she started to form an opinion. Spot was saying things that suggested that he was a fan of illegal drugs. His suggestion came in the form of statements like “I’m gonna score some weed again tonight.” Additionally, Spot liked saying “f—“, too, and he was particularly fond of using it as a gerund.

Michelle watched to see how the others would respond. San and prep-boy looked uncomfortable, but neither said a word. A simple “shut up, you fool” from either of them would have been a start.

As Michelle left the store, she observed two signs on the wall. One mentioned courtesy. Ironically, this sign did not include slow service, hair as a food-additive, or bragging about narcotics as part of their commitment to f—ing courtesy (sorry, couldn’t resist). The other sign provided contact information about starting your own JJ franchise–which is why I’m even aware of this event.

Michelle went from being a fan of 19 years to an angry, disgusted customers based on one bad experience.

  • Want to roll your eyes? Do when you’re alone.
  • Want to have hair down to your butt? Cover it around my food.
  • Want to move slowly? Take up tai chi.
  • Want to smoke dope? Don’t let me see it, smell it, or hear about it.
  • Want to use coarse language? Save if for when you’re with your buddies.

Michelle told me that she will return to JJ. Eventually. But she will NOT return to that JJ. Ever.

What opinions are your customers forming about your brand based on the actions of a couple of fools working within your organization?

0 Comments Add yours

  1. Tom says:

    Another great article Scott. I was doing some thinking about that same topic not too long ago…

    1. “Put your employees at the top of your mission statement, ahead of your customers, and show that commitment in everything you do.” Great statement. A company that practices this will have no shortage of dedicated employees.

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