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TOPIC: Employee Breakdown

Employee Breakdown 18 Jun 2004 10:09 #24488

  • poppajoe
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It happened during opening night of HARRY POTTER. One of my concession people got snappy with problem customer. It was very bussy and I have to agree with my staff member, that the customer was really being a jerk, but I still had to stress the importance of keeping calm and collected. What is the best way to handle the customer, I let it go, should I have done something?
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Re: Employee Breakdown 18 Jun 2004 11:43 #24489

  • puzzlegut
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I think it depends on the situation. What was the customer doing that caused the employee to snap back at them? Need to know a little more about the situation in order to give an accurate opinion about it.
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Re: Employee Breakdown 18 Jun 2004 14:05 #24490

  • coryray
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Poppa, As far as I'm concerned, you're absolutely correct. Under NO circumstances is an employee to engage in any back-and-forth. They MUST remain calm, cool and collected. Not aloof, but in control. Anything else puts the employee in an inferior position. I realize too that's sometimes difficult, especially for kids working in a public arena, but their actions reflect the owner's. For me, it's not so much 'the customer's always right.' Rather, the employee represents me and under no circumstances is there a need for argument. There's ALWAYS another solution, either by referring them to myself or to the house/floor manager in charge. That's why they're there, to resolve problems as they occur, allowing the burden to be lifted from the staff.
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Re: Employee Breakdown 19 Jun 2004 08:52 #24491

  • jimor
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The previous posts are right on the money, but I feel that they stress the need for what is in so little practice these days: TRAINING. To save money, most cinemas (and stores) do little or no training, beyond showing the new employee where to work and which buttons to push on a cash terminal. People, especially high school kids, need TRAINING. They need to know exactly where they stand in the pecking order (who can give them instructions, and who cannot), exactly what their area of responsibility is, and whom to call upon at any hour if there are problems. The owner/manager who walks out the door or calls on the phone and says: "It's all up to you kid" is only asking for trouble with a capital 'T'! An unsupervised employee will think that you don't care, so why should he?

The employee needs to be TRAINED to be nice to everyone, not just customers, since there is no such thing as morals/manners training in the schools anymore, and someone coming right from school to the working world will likely have a sullen, I-don't-give-a-damn attitude. They may crack out a smile during the employment interview, but you must look deeper to see if they have a Customer Service attitude, which most in our selfish day and age do not.

Make it clear during TRAINING that while the customer is NOT always right, the customer is ALWAYS due courtesy and that therefore if there is a problem, the employee must learn to 'shut his/her mouth' and not talk back, since nothing but antagonism (and consequent vandalism?!) is gained. A 'Procedures' manual printed out on your computer will help newbies quickly learn the ropes and your Expectations; failure to provide such a signed-for document risks the employee being able to tell any government investigator that you (or your subordinate) never told them such important details of the job. Your claim that you alwys tell "everyone" automatically all that you require will stand no stead with any official who wants to know what kind of child-labor abuse you are running. Help your kids and C.Y.A. by writing down what the job description is and what the theatre's expectations are. You should not only cover conduct expected, but also the physicals: where (the specific title of) the employee is supposed to be working (implying the run of the theatre could get you into trouble later); what equipment, keys, codes, etc. he/she is permitted to use and where such is kept and to be returned, and under what conditions/times; what uniforms they are to wear and how such are to be kept/cleaned and how often. Some of this may seem too trivial to include in an official document, but as the old saying goes: "Verbal Orders Don't Go!" If anyone is to believe your side of a dispute, or if you are to have an employee handle a customer properly, the staff MUST know as one, exactly what is expected. The manager/owner who rules by whim of the moment or favoritism can only expect troubles down the road, troubles which he has engineered. If you give off the attitude that your employee is only 'temporary' and is easily replacable, you can expect them to only have slightly hidden contempt for you; no amount of pay can create good will among the staff, but your genuine concern for their careers can go a long way to making your's a pleasant place to WORK, not play. It is a mistake to try to make your cinema/theatre a 'playground' for adults, since high school kids are not yet adults, and many of today's adults are not yet adult, so it is vital to create an atmosphere where everyone is expected to do their jobs even if they find them boring, but that at the same time you create a place where they can approach you with both work and personal problems. Are some of your kids still in school, but obviously have no place to study at home or live in a hostile atmosphere? Maybe you can fix up a place in the cinema rear areas for them to study or listen to thier music with HEADPHONES. Yes, you would have to police the area now and then to avoid unsavory uses, and perhaps take the door off its hinges, but at least the kids will know that you care something about their welfare, and are not just some money grubber they see only when you disdainfully pass out pay checks. If all of this is really "too much" for you since you don't really like people, then you are in the wrong business!
Jim R. (new E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) member: www.HistoricTheatres.org
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