Doug’s #1 Rule of Business: Take the customer’s money as fast as possible.

Businesses spend billions on advertising and promotions to do one thing: Get consumers in their stores to buy their products. Marketing departments are critical in any business.

So why then, do businesses often do such a poor job “closing the deal”? Why do they have several checkout lines, but only man a few during peak hours??? Their soon to be ex-customers stand in line. Irritated. Vowing not to come back. Planning to take their business to a competitor.

And yet, the insanity continues. The ads and promos have done their job with great success. A customer has visited the store and made a selection. There they stand. Practically holding their hands out with money…”please take my hard earned cash”, they plead. But no deal. You need to wait in this line, just like everyone else.

How many times do you go into a large store and of the 20+ people that are visibly working there, they’ve got one or maybe two uninspired dorks plodding people through the checkout process. It’s a crime! So called fast-food are big time breakers of my #1 rule.

You would think that upper management or the owners would visit the operating locations once in a while and see what is going on. I would also think the store managers would be appalled and make changes. Maybe they have and just get no support.

There are a few that get it right: CostCo, Frys Electronics, (most) McDonalds, and Pavilions. Sure, you might stand in line at those places, but they show effort to get you checked out as quickly as possible. That’s the difference. Conveying concern and showing effort.

I have had this “rule” for many years, but what makes me bring it up is my experience at the local Ralphs grocery store in Culver City. My daughter and I stepped in to buy a few items and when we got to the checkout, it was oh 70 feet long. It was maybe 6pm on a Sunday night. One checkout open! They eventually managed to get two more open. Now do you think the manager walked around guiding customers to the newly opened lines? Hell no. They just pissed customers off as people just grabbed the shortest lines, etc. etc. I hate that store, but yet I continue to think things might have changed or I’ll catch it at a better time. I should know better. Pavilions may cost more, but I guess ya gotta pay for good customer service.