The Nightmares Of A Retail Businessman
Small businessmen are faced with many challenges, overhead costs must be kept to a minimum and must be able to trust your employees; unfortunately this is one of the hardest goal to achieve in business, I have heard horrendous stories from businessmen; I have seen it, experience it and have been the victim of dishonesty on many occasions.
There are two memorable experiences that scared the daylights out of me. I was brought up in the church and has always practiced -honesty is the best policy. I was on vacation in North America and asked a friend, I cannot say we were close; but set off together on a shopping trip, a warehouse where the prices were reported as very competitive. The logic of him offering to pay was beyond my comprehension; maybe the purchases were a gift.
The cashier was a girlfriend, she appeared businesslike and proceeded the checkout, but the costs were nowhere close to the true cost of the purchases. When we got to his I was asked to be paid the true costs of the purchases; there was an arrangement between him had and the cashier. My anger and displeasure was clearly demonstrated. I assured him it will never be repeated, I was blatantly exposed to criminal behavior.
On another occasion in North America, a friend invited me out to dinner at a very upscale restaurant; after consuming almost all the food that was served, one of his own hairs was plucked from his head, placed in the little morsel that remained, as my friend pretended to wanting to vomit, in a manner for all to see, pointing at the hair in plate. The head waiter rushed to the table and ushered us both through a side door, and my friend pretended to be taking out his wallet to pay, at which point the waiter uttered in a soft voice,” I am so sorry, but it is on the house”. I was more disappointed than angry because this was someone I knew for years and trusted.
“If you continue to pull stunts like that you will end up in jail; but if ever we go to a restaurant again, I am paying”
Second Retail Outlet.
A second retail space was opened in Bridgetown to accommodate the expansion of handicrafts, there were adequate suppliers and the increase in my own production warranted the expansion.
The space was small and required only one sales manager; It was necessary to keep overhead costs to a minimum, which ruled out hiring an accounts clerk or a stock supervisor.
After some lengthy brainstorming, a scheme was devised to manage stock control and to find an honest person. My choice was a devout member of a church with good character references. There was a record of all stock entries but supervision required time and labor. The insurance plan was to undertake all shop displays, the sales manager was ordered not to do any rearrangements, even when items were sold from the displays.
Random display shelves were selected and monitored carefully. On one of my visits to the outlet it was evident that a very prominent vase was missing, there was no need to check the records; To my disbelief the sale was not recorded anywhere and the sales manager denied selling it, and suggested it must have been stolen.
The sales manager was issued a warning, the space was small and could be easily monitored. Bless my heart, a few weeks later a lady walked in the outlet with the same vase in her hand.
“Ah Mr Devonish I am so happy you are here, I bought this beautiful vase a few weeks ago, but you brought another since that I like better and wonder if I can make an exchange and pay the difference”
“Can I please see the receipt”
“The young lady did not give me a receipt, but there she is, ask her”
Not a word was exchanged, the young lady walked out and never came back, not even to ask if there was any funds owing to her.
During all my interviews it is clearly understood that there is a zero policy towards dishonesty.
Please whenever you are purchasing from any business especially small business without sophisticated security control, always ask for a receipt, the only time you should refuse a receipt is when you are served by the sole owner.