The Big Think

August 26, 2015

Business Decisions

Filed under: Business — jasony @ 7:56 am

(reposted from a FB comment I made):

Checkout speed is pretty much my only complaint with my local Hobby Lobby store. Up until recently they read the numbered price off the tag and input it manually into the register. This always made my efficiency-minded business brain twitchy.

Lo and behold, our local HL got computerized registers a few months ago. So I figured they’d joined the modern world and were going to be scanning SKU/barcodes and the lines would be faster. No luck. Even with the fancy new equipment they _still_ input the tags by hand. The registers even have scanner gun ports! Why?

When I asked the manager about this seeming oversight, his answer made me reconsider my frustration. He told me that Hobby Lobby had made a decision to forgo the SKU scanners because the use of them (and subsequent speeding up of the lines) would end up getting rid of the need for the extra employee or two per store. The new equipment DOES speed things up (I’ve noticed), but not so much that they’d have to take somebody’s job away.

Hobby Lobby was essentially trading a tiny bit of customer convenience so as not to have to put someone out of work.

Whenever I go to Home Depot and see those self-checkout stations I always think of the lazy employees that got the boot. I’m kind of glad actually since nothing is guaranteed and their work ethic eventually got the reward it deserved. However, at my local Hobby Lobby the employees are helpful and fast— at least as fast as the equipment will let them be. Maybe they just fear the Sword of Damocles that the scanners represent, but given their attitudes, I think it might have something to do with their employer making decisions that demonstrates the fact that the employees are valued, and they are returning the sentiment by working hard.

It’s not a perfect system, and I still wish the lines were faster, but I appreciate a company making decisions like that. And the only way I even knew about it was that unexpected conversation.

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