Winners, losers, and figures CAN lie (or be ignored)

No problem taking (some) credit for a good-looking department.

The only indisputable numbers I’ve seem lately involved Yankees being spanked four straight while being dismissed in ALCS with Detroit and the plus-10 my group hung up in a captains choice outing.  After 6-7 holes we knew there wasn’t a prayer of hitting 4-iron third shots to save pars playing from the blues, so we worked from the 390 avg. yd. white tees, which seemed more fun and reasonable. Turns out Crotty won one of closest to pins even if on outermost part of dance floor, contributing to one of our two birdies on a fine tanning day.  

With all sympathies due for True Professional Derek Jeter’s fractured foot (and many in Charlotte are thrilled by semi-reflected glory he’s coming here (OrthoCare) to get checked/surgery), the most surprising numbers I’ll mention aren’t even from various polls claiming to know how far ahead or behind Obama or Romney are on ‘enthusiasm of voters’, ‘ground game’, or whatever else in those crucial swing states. For once its not about credit apps either, because I got TWO last week and first customer on Sunday asked to get one, all of which has manager practically dancing. I rewarded the customer by ‘double-dipping’ on discounts, manually pushing a 20% allowance before also using another 20% coupon she wasn’t aware was available.

No, the numbers I’m focused on seem cold and accurate enough, and with customer satisfaction tracked every day via online surveys completed (44 this month), seeing 50% under the heading ‘Availability of Assistance’ is CLEARLY an indictment regarding how many fewer associates are available to provide knowledgable customer service. When the new store manager saw an overall rating of 70% approval and declared “associates must not be smiling and greeting customers adequately,” my hand HAD to go up; otherwise I’m a liar by omission.   My journalism career came of age during Nixon’s Watergate, and I learned that sometimes you have to say ‘Bullshit!’ no matter what.  Note that last Wed. I did $2250, but only $700 of it Nautica merchandise. I felt fine about upping my sales in a major way because there wasn’t anyone in Vineyard Vines, but I also patroled a major portion of Moderates area Friday ($1666) without such significant reward.

“The numbers show customers giving ‘Friendly/Courteous Service’ a 77 for the month,” I noted calmly, “its that 50 on Availability that’s pulling survey score so low.” Now EVERYONE THERE knew I spoke the truth about those numbers, but manager says, “Well, maybe if people saw **5-6** associates gathered someplace and they weren’t getting served, maybe that’s what they meant about Availability.” I pointed out that I can smile plenty, but if I’m NOT PHYSICALLY IN THE STORE nobody is served and THAT is when people remark about lack of available sales people to take their money. Example- over the last 6 weeks or so, Jack and I have been reduced from 36 to 32 hrs./week, and Sunday has always been one guy, all day, see-if-you-can-get-a-break day. This Sun. I was 12-6, an hour off each end of schedule. 

The managers slant was blatant crapola and noticed by all; I was congratulated several times after meeting about actually verbalizing those generally undeniable facts. We’ve certainly see it allll OVER the country, about corporations pushing up productivity/profits by stiffing workers, and you can be sure this retailer chintzing on hours after already having two years of record profitability during time of major economic turmoil isn’t being ignored by the worker bees.  Ugly rumor is they’ll also decline to hire extra Christmas help to take major weight off salespeople to refold and maintain departments, which is ludicrous.

Having a job?  Its better than not, and Jack’s daughter being on his insurance is a very real piece of luck. While that arithmetic I previously mentioned says Jack and I need $8500 this week to make bonus again for October, that $2k on last day in Sept. means I’ll keep pushing for the extra rewards.  Despite how store manager tried to make numbers lie, my last hour (5:19 – 6:29 checkout which includes :29 over schedule) produced $716 in sales vs. $183 necessary to pay commish vs. hourly rate.  From another, far less kindly POV, wouldn’t that prove they scheduled right, getting damn fine production without extra compensation?  Only if you’re someone who also argues for giving a $5 trillion tax cut in a situation where there’s already massive national debt.  Fact is, that huge marginal sales rate wouldn’t have happened if my smiling face wasn’t present an extra half hour. 

Turns out there’s *another* corporate survey in progress, one where several co-workers indicate they will select ‘1- Completely Disagree’ on Qs 3-6 (of 6).  Let’s see anyone spin THAT level of collective dissonance!

Glenn Shorkey

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