How Three Minutes Can Cost You Forty Grand

By Beacon Staff

In football, the two minute warning seems to work fairly well to wake up teams from Denver/Dallas and kick them in to high gear. How many times did Staubach, Aikman and Elway cause more scoreboard damage in two minutes than in perhaps the rest of the game? Plenty.

One thing you couldn’t do in that two minute period was make mistakes. Former Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry was quoted as saying something along the lines of “the Cowboys always knew we could always come back from one mistake, but two mistakes tended to beat us”.

As we’ve all seen on TV, two minutes isn’t very long if you use that time to make mistakes.

At my favorite Billings coffee shop, the three minute warning is what gets you.

After an uptick in “I overslept” and “traffic was bad” kinds of excuses for tardy appearances for morning shift at my favorite coffee shop, the owner decided it was time to fix this “broken window” (reference to the book “Broken Windows, Broken Business”) before more serious things need mending.

See, if you let one thing slide, soon enough there’s another.

So what’s the three minute warning?

When showing up for your shift, if you aren’t at the shop within three minutes of your scheduled starting time – your tips for that shift go to the house. You get one “Get out of TipJail” card free per quarter, because – as Landry said – everyone makes mistakes, and you can recover from ONE. Show up four minutes late and it’s “No tippee today, Bubba.”

Some employers and probably quite a few employees are probably asking themselves “Why is this such a big deal?”

Well, for the same reason that every other little thing can become a big deal. They might cost you a customer – something far more expensive than three minutes.

Imagine that it’s tomorrow morning at your favorite coffee shop.

It’s 7:02am and you’re swamped. One of your daily 6:55am customers is in a hurry because she’s got a meeting at 7:30am. She’s been waiting seven minutes already – far too long for a cuppa joe. Her meeting won’t wait, so she leaves without her java fix. When she gets to the office, she has to drink the burned sludge they serve out of the automated coffeemaker.
Result: She’s cranky. Sure, it’s a little thing, and maybe she should have arrived at the shop earlier, but that’s part of her daily routine and she normally doesn’t have to wait that long.
If she leaves because there was no one to wait on her, she might be back, or not. If she is that steamed and decides that this was the last straw, do the math and figure out what that just cost you.

20 work days a month times 12 months = 240 work days per year. Times $3.50 per cup.

That’s $840. Real money, especially for something that took 3 minutes.

If you or your staff do something to cause you to lose only one daily customer a week and they spend an average of $3.50 per weekday, that’ll cost you FORTY GRAND over the span of a year. $43,860 to be exact.

Not such a little thing anymore, is it?

Don’t let the coffee shop story distract you. It could just as easily be a pizza shop losing customers who make a $17 weekly order. One a week, and that’s another forty grand.

One customer at that one time when you’re annoyed might not seem like much until you think about how hard it is to get a new customer, and how much it costs to do so.

What little thing are you willing to let slide for a mere forty grand? Do the math, because the little things matter. They’re what make you stand out from the so-so in your market.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him at [email protected].

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