Something that contributes to a negative retail culture is failing to protect the customers when things aren’t going so well behind the scenes. “Never let them see you sweat” is one way it’s been expressed.
One company I worked for had a corporate jet—two, in fact. The head pilot, aka Director of Flight Operations, was a great guy. Very funny, and of course, on long flights you have lots of time to talk. His nickname was Fuzzy. (Pilots all seem to have nicknames, but wouldn’t you rather have a pilot named “Sharp” or even “Slick” than “Fuzzy”?)
According to Fuzzy, what happened on a flight often could be unpredictable and less than ideal. So his solution was to deal with it in a way that would maintain calm and instill confidence in his customers (the passengers).
The moral of this story? The wheels might be coming off (figuratively, we hope—at least on an airplane), but you cannot let your customers or community see you react in emotional or inappropriate ways.
A negative culture might work out for a short period of time. But in the 21st century, it works less and less. People intrinsically know that being treated well makes a tremendous difference. They know the importance of The First Law, whether it’s articulated as such or not; and this law is a tangible expression of the core value of community.
This is an excerpt from the upcoming book, The Five Laws of Retail.