Employees or Customers? Chicken or the Egg? Food for Thought…



When considering tradeoffs involving employees and customers, discussion can result in a “Chicken or the Egg” skit.


Employees are the lifeblood of the organization! Treat them well and they’ll treat your customers well.

Without customers you are left with Facebook and Fantasy Football updates, neither of which increase revenue.


Balancing the two can be a challenge. As the economy slowly improves (basis point by basis point…), big line items like overhead are continually examined. And re-examined.


And such is the case with a small business Red Angle regularly partners with.

They are good people.

They try hard.

And for the most part they do what they say they’ll do.


Today I dropped off an order.

Our conversation made me chuckle.

And it got me thinking….


Me: When will it be ready for pick-up?

Mgr: Two weeks.

Me: Two weeks? What happened to 3 days? 

Mgr: It was 3 days. Then it was a week. Now it’s 2 weeks.

Me: Even for your best customer? (mock gasp)

Mgr: Yep. We lost Jimmy. He’s gone. 

Me: Oh. Where’d he go?

Mgr: Well, we didn’t really lose him. But he’s gone. 

Me: Ok… please go on.  

Mgr: Fine. The owner offered me $4 more per hour if we laid off Jimmy. There.

Me: Oh.

Mgr: Now there’s too much work for me. So… we went to 2 weeks.

Me: Oh. How much business do you have to lose due to the 2-week lead time before the owner’s “savings” and your increased pay look like a poor business decision?

Mgr: Ummm. Wait… what?  

Me: Nevermind. I’ll be back in a week…. 




Employees or Customers?

Chicken or the Egg?

(Or maybe it’s just too much candor.)



What do you think?




Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish (and a bit of Polish…) language gap in the construction industry.    

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Categories: Jobsite Leadership

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