I was recently chatting to an old friend of mine who, like me, spends hours on the road traversing the lengths and breaths of the country for only one reason – our Customers! (Fortunately, we live in a beautiful Country that makes the trips far more enjoyable!) He, like many travelers, has a weakness for pies – an excuse for stopping and filling up with fuel – for body and car! He recently told me of an incident when ‘re-fuelling’ in Ladysmith. After filling up with petrol, he entered the takeaway at the garage and went straight to the pie counter and ordered his favourite pie; as he has done at this popular garage in Ladysmith for many years. The assistant took his order and told him to take the slip to the cashier, and after payment come back and collect his pie! After an exchange of words (I feel some may have resembled a dialect of Swahili) the reason given for this sudden change of procedure was “people have been stealing our pies”! My friend now will not only support that particular petrol station in Ladysmith, but will not fill up at any of the ‘same brand’ countrywide! Knowing him as I do, he will stick to this inbred commitment until his last kilometer!
Because of a ‘system failure’ in a business’s procedure, we are ALL treated like thieves, or at best potential thieves. Perhaps that business should either move the counter, instead of inconveniencing the customer?
Another store which treats me like a criminal is a large retail/wholesale organisation that insists on employing an external security company to check my receipt after I have paid for the goods! This ticks me off to an extent that I rarely ever visit that store – unless they really entice me with a ‘never-to-be-seen-again ‘ special; and I still go there under duress! The funny thing is that these so called security staff don’t even know half the time what they are checking! Can you imagine what would happen if Pick and Pay or Checkers started doing this ridiculous procedure – their competitors would be dancing all day in the boardroom!
You see, it’s not only people that deliver service, but ‘systems & procedures’ (as well as a host of other elements). Yet people play the biggest role, as not only are they the one’s responsible for procedures, but often carry them out.
I was engaged to talk to a group of Retail Managers recently, and they informed me that part of their ‘cost-cutting’ strategy was reducing staff on a very large scale! This was to be done mostly by offering early retirement packages and ‘restructuring’ in the form of, ’Well we do have a position for you in Upington”! Now, there is nothing wrong with Upington, but rather inconvenient when you have a working spouse and school going children in Phalaborwa! Simply put, the less people at store level, the worse your service will be – full stop!
Talking about cutting staff, across the large pond in the USA, Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer has been eliminating greeters on the 10 pm-to-7 am shift at its 3 000-plus supercenters over the last six months, “chipping away at a 30-year tradition of making sure all shoppers are welcomed to the store,” Bloomberg reports. Most supercenters are open 24 hours a day. This is being done in the name of ‘cost-cutting”!
However, the Greeters have been moved to other jobs within the store, such as shelf packing. They have been a fixture and the face of Wal-Mart for many years, but I’m betting that some of those greeters welcome the change. A greeter has what’s probably one of the toughest jobs in the store — being on your feet all day, blasted by outside heat and cold through the open doors, and saying the same thing over and over again. Will the elimination of late-night greeters affect the shopping experience? Is Wal-Mart making a mistake by moving away from late founder Sam Walton‘s vision for the company? We wait and see!
Oh, and then there’s the customers. Plenty of news reports indicate the challenges they can pose to these low-paid workers (and Kudos to the Consumerist for keeping excellent track of these incidents):
- A 69-year-old greeter reportedly was fired after a customer, who set off the alarm, tried to punch him and he swung back.
- A 71-year-old greeter was allegedly choked after asking to see a customer’s receipt. The injuries weren’t serious.
- A 100-year-old greeter — yes, 100 — said she was knocked down after asking to see a receipt. (The incident was later ruled an accident.) The greeter, who worked five days a week, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel “that her employers treat her well but that she works because she needs the money.”
- A 72-year-old greeter had to be hospitalised after he was punched in the face outside the store.
- A 70-year-old Wal-Mart employee was assaulted by a customer on Christmas Eve after she asked to see a receipt (which the customer had). It’s unclear from news reports whether the employee was a greeter or a cashier.
So, all you youngsters in your ‘Fifties’ – get down to the gym and get ready for old age!
Until next time!
Additional resource: consumerist.com; Bloomberg.com
Since READ was established in 1979, the organisation constantly fulfils its aim to help people in South Africa develop their skills in reading, writing, learning, information and communication. One of its most heart-warming successes has recently come to light. It concerns Julia Mphuti. When she lived in the Protea South informal settlement 21 years ago, Ms Mphuti recognised the need for someone to look after the children wandering about aimlessly, so this young woman took it upon herself to create a safe haven for them by opening Kid’s EduCare in her backyard. Over the years, Julia has given her time, her energy and her heart to her crèche, often funding its activities with her own money. She has never turned a child away if the parents cannot pay – and, no matter how hard times have been, has always provided all the children with two full meals and a snack, every day. In 2006 fate smiled on her. As part of a Lotteries-funded Early Childhood Development (ECD)project run by READ Educational Trust, Julia received training as a caregiver, which earned her an NQF Level 1 certificate, and she is currently studying for the ECD National Diploma (NQF 5), which she’ll receive in 2013. Undaunted, Julia Mphuti commutes between Ennerdale and Protea South every day. And despite her training, and all she has given over all these years, she does not qualify for a subsidy from the Department of Social Development – because her crèche is not housed in a permanent structure. Her fame has steadily grown and local primary schools can see the difference in learners from her crèche who enter Grade R. Parents from as far as Lenasia want to send their children to Julia’s humble shack-crèche! It is packed with opportunities for the children to develop – from the fantasy corner, to the book corner, to the play area with the swing and faux grass made from old carpets, all intended to develop the young minds in her care. “If we do not give children the foundation they need, we are killing their futures,” Julia says. “And I thank READ for helping me grow more opportunities.” Her contribution to the community cannot be measured in monetary value alone for it is so much more than that. It comes from her heart and defines the kind of person Julia Mphuti is. READ is proud to have been of help.
Come and join us to colour for charity this Sunday
This Sunday, 6 May is World Kids Colouring Day! Join Staedtler at Greenstone, Clearwater Mall, Cresta, Maponya Mall and Centurion Mall on Sunday between 9am and 5pm.
After taking more than 100 online exams as well as a practical three-day exam in Japan, Yunus Docrat, a branch technician at Bidvest company, Konica Minolta South Africa, is the fourth South African to receive the highest certification of Konica Minolta Business Technologies’ professional education, the Diploma in Color, joining the expert rank of a total of only seven Asia Pacific achievers of this qualification.
The sought-after qualification has been described as second to none in its design and scope in the entire printing market. It provides its receivers with the competencies to meet the digital world’s demand for reliable services and expert consultancy in standardised results and colour output.
More than 100 online exams have to be taken to reach certification level, such as Outward Associate, Professional, Expert Colour, Master of Colour and an additional Expert level. Once these exams are completed, the candidate is invited to Japan for the practical three-day exam. To the future applicants of the Color Diploma, Docrat has these encouraging words: ‘Study well, be prepared and know everything from the DTP applications to the Fiery Controller.’
Docrat, a production supervisor with five years experience in desktop publishing, is also the first branch technician to qualify and says that studying towards the diploma has changed both his view of- and previous experience of working with colour.
‘I have gained a great deal of knowledge and expert skills during my time preparing for the diploma. The result is that customers will benefit from highly consistent print quality and clearly defined quality standards through sophisticated colour manipulation. In addition, issues that would ordinarily have taken me a few days to troubleshoot can now be resolved in just a few minutes, allowing customers’ downtime to be at a minimum, thus not affecting their workload output,’ said Docrat.
‘The qualification has already helped me through some tricky colour situations. I have also been able to transfer some of the knowledge gained to the customer by showing them the correct workflows within their environments, allowing them to achieve their correct outputs more quickly and efficiently.’
‘We are immensely proud of Yunus and now with four Diploma in Colour recipients on board, South Africa is taking the lead in the colour expert rankings in the Asia Pacific region. Our clients embracing digital colour printing can thus be confident that they are dealing with the leaders in colour technology,’ said Alan Griffith, Konica Minolta South Africa MD.
Article courtesy of Africa Print.
From September to December 2011, Waltons and Mondi ran a promotion raising R55 000 for seven charities across Gauteng. The charities included Little Eden, Safe and Sound Learning Association, Nkosi’s Haven, Ulusaba Pride ‘n Purpose, Lochvaal Umfuleni Welfare, St John’s Care Centre and Lourie Youth Centre. For every box of Rotatrim bought during the promotional period, 20c was donated to the funds for donation. Wish lists were submitted by each charity items including food, baby formula, a washing machine, stationery items, computers, projectors and toiletries were bought for the organisations. Representatives from various Waltons branches visited the organisations to do the handover and were taken on a tours of the home to show how they are run, what activities take place and were introduced to the residents, learners and staff.
The Muslim Refugee Association of South Africa (MRASA), a non-profit organisation (NPO) uplifting refugees and locals through religious, social, moral and academic means, has raised R15 000 worth of stationery in their Back to School Campaign. The campaign was started following a frequent request from refugee parents who could not afford stationery for their children once school begins each year. Some of the stationery items distributed include books, pens, pencils and bags. According to Wagogo Ramadhan, director for MRASA, the Back to School campaign has played a big role in changing the lives of many families because now parents don’t have to worry about the stationery of their children. They look for families struggling to sustain themselves through representatives at schools in various areas and distribute the available stationery to them. “With many requests from under-privileged families both refugees and local, we appeal to members of the stationery industry to assist with donating stationery to our organisation and using MRASA as a vehicle to do such work,” he says.
Twelve schools across Gauteng and the Kliptown Youth Program, a non-profit organisation, without books or a library, received a moveable library coutesy of a donation of R40 000 by shop-sa and seven of its’ members. The members who made the donation included Kolok, Rexel, Mondi, Beswick, ACT, Office National and Waltons. One of the schools which benefitted from this initiative include Wisani Primary school in Pimville, Soweto. Denis Creighton, chairperson for the Soweto Youth and Developments Project, says he would like to thank shop-sa on behalf of all the schools. “Wisani Primary School caters for grades R to seven and had no library or any books until this intervention. We received the books arranged through the Travelling Bookshop’s Masixhasane foundation thanks to the association’s donation,” he says. He says the principal, deputy principal and staff, as well as the children were very excited about the new library. “As a result of the association’s donation, the Gauteng Education Department has also agreed to send a supply of library books to all participating schools so the donation has been multiplied,” says Creighton.