Business Lessons

Jason Kottke has a funny little story about his neighborhood coffee & donut man:

“Next!” said the coffee & donut man (who I’ll refer to as “Ralph”) from his tiny silver shop-on-wheels, one of many that dot Manhattan on weekday mornings. I stepped up to the window, ordered a glazed donut (75 cents), and when he handed it to me, handed a dollar bill back through the window. Ralph motioned to the pile of change scattered on the counter and hurried on to the next customer, yelling “Next!” over my shoulder. I put the bill down and grabbed a quarter from the pile.

Read the rest of his piece, with which I heartily agree. There are so many times when businesses, with an instinct to always seek more control of their employees and customers, end up shooting themselves in the foot.

Recently, I went to Au Bon Pain [which is unfortunately convenient to my law school] at 6:02pm (5:58pm on my watch). They have a “happy hour” from 4pm-6pm, during which all baked goods are half price. It’s the only time anything is reasonably priced.

I tried to buy an assiago cheese bagel ($0.45 at half price) and they told me I was too late. It was 6:02pm. Rules are rules.

I protested, but they held firm. Meanwhile, an employee was going through the store with a large trash bag, throwing away all the baked goods. Several dozen assiaga cheese bagels in the trash.

So instad of making $0.45 off of me, they got nothing. I bet Kottke’s coffee & donut man would have sold me the bagel.