Where There’s a Will, There’s No Way


My brother-in-law and I had an interesting incident over Memorial Day weekend. We were having a party for my son’s first birthday. So, we went to Albertson’s to pick up my son’s birthday cake and some propane for my grill.

After we paid for everything, the clerk tells the grocery bagger to help us exchange my empty propane tank for a full one.

Bagger: (Blank look) I don’t know how to do that.

Clerk: Ask Suzie.

Bagger: (Blank look)

Clerk: Suzie? Can you help him exchange propane for these customers?

Suzie: Sure. (pulls out and holds up keys) Here are the keys, you know where the tanks are.

Bagger: (Blank look) I don’t know how to do that.

Suzie: (Scary look) You’ve got to be kidding me. They just gave me these keys this morning and I’ve been doing it all day.

Bagger: (Blank look)

Then Suzie helped us.

Wanna hear the REALLY ironic part?

The baggers name was “Will”.

I think his middle name is “Not”.

Update: Looks like Mike Wagner at Own Your Brand ran into his own “Will” recently. He’s asking for suggestions to overcome the “$30,000 Toothbrush Scandle”.

Maybe we can volley suggestions back-and-forth on how brand managers can overcome issues like Albertson’s Will and the Mike’s Toothbrush Nazi.

Dustin Staiger is a business and marketing coach in Houston, TX. He addresses team and individual effectiveness, marketing, communications and creativity for smaller, entrepreneurial organizations as well as large enterprises.

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10 thoughts on “Where There’s a Will, There’s No Way

  1. We’ll say the ‘Wills’ need to be trained better. The Albertsons of the business world will say that they don’t have time to train them.

    The real question is, is it that they don’t have the time, or don’t make the time?

  2. Wow, this is truly sad. Great management at this place. Why oh why do folks insist on hiring people who don’t care for front line jobs? This is just KILLING their brand, time and time again. YOW!

  3. Thanks for the link back to my own “Will…Not” experience.

    Smart companies and organizations will learn how to lead a branded organization. They will find the dollars, time and more importantly…the brand based vision.

    But Mack is right; I can hear the management excuses before they even form on the lips of managers and leaders who have given up on equipping the Wills of this world with the development they need.

    Keep creating,

  4. This issue has come up many times recently in conversation with other associates, my wife, my friends, and Phil is right: it absolutely destroys the equity invested in a brand. Not only do workers in these roles sometimes seem incompetent, they occasionally border on being indignant, seemingly offended that you asked them of their time and effort. I agree with Mack-many grocery stores, fast-food restaurants, (hotels), etc. simply don’t spend the time training. They’re desperate to get people on the schedule, so they skip it. Solutions? That’s tough. My touchy-feely side says there’s a culture problem. My disciplinarian side says people need to start getting fired! To marry the two would be wonderful. Southwest Airlines has a great model. Their employees, top-down, are their brand, and their customers know it. The value of their brand, not just of their job functions, has been instilled in all employees, and it shows in their service. But as Michael mentions, that takes money (and time).

  5. Great comments one and all. I don’t know that I can state it better than Chris has. Bravo!

    Based on what everyone is saying, it does sound like a tension exists between an “entitlement generation” and the bottom-dollar culture of most corporations today.

    Putting the entitlement attitude aside for now (though worthy of it’s own focus), I notice you’ve mentioned two types of investment many companies hesitate to make into their employees: Time & Money.

    It seems as though time is an even tougher investment to make. It is even more critical with the number of baby boomers retiring over the next decade.

    The pre-modern approach was apprenticeship. Bring someone along side you to learn the trade (often times a son) and show them the way patiently.

    Why do we not “apprentice” our employees as much today?


  6. I remember at Abercrombie and Fitch and how to motivate high schoolers and college age kids. We attempted to give these kids ownership of the store. So treat them like managers in training and give them empowerment to make decisions. The results were astonishing. Giving them the place and making them feel they were owners changed their mindset on even the most boring of tasks.

  7. NEWS FLASH “Albertson’s and Will are leaving Oklahoma.”
    Maybe not Will, but his employer is leaving the state.

    Customer service effects loyalty
    Loyalty effects bottom line
    Bottom line effects Corporate decisions
    Corporate decisions effect my job
    My job effects customer service

  8. Great job of chasing the dominoes and showing the big picture Bret!

    Albertson’s exiting Oklahoma has been a long time coming. I was recently told they have similar struggles in Texas.

    Guess the market for somewhat overpricing and way underserving isn’t as profitable as it once was.

    My guess is they won’t take Will with them.