This is a true story from this week.
A woman who has technically been a senior citizen for some years now yet who is quite robust and spry for her numerical age, wearing a face mask, walked into a Jersey Mike’s sub shop in suburban Denville, New Jersey on a weekday afternoon shortly after lunch time.
“My husband hasn’t been doing well and we’re on our way home from a doctor’s appointment. I asked him what he’d like to eat and he said Jersey Mike’s. Done, I said. We’d like a number 7, Giant, with Mike’s Way, and if you can make it a good one I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.”
The man behind the counter listened, looked at this woman and responded: “This one’s on me.”
The woman did not understand. “What do you mean? The employee explained: “I’d like to treat you to your sandwich. It’s on the house. No charge.”
Clearly taken aback, the woman declined. “Thank you very much. That’s very kind and generous. I appreciate it. However, I’m able to take care of this. I’ll tell you what. How about you pay it forward. One day someone else will come in who’s truly in need and you can give them a free sandwich.”
When it was time to pay the bill, the woman noticed the total was much lower than what that sandwich would normally cost. “Excuse me, I think you may have made a mistake ringing up my order. This sandwich usually costs much more.”
He replied: “Yes, you’re right. Since you wouldn’t let us treat you to the sandwich, we took 25% off.”
It turns out that the man working at Jersey Mike’s is named Tom, and he’s the manager. This particular location has only been open a month or so, and perhaps he’s keen on building positive word of mouth. I’d like to think he’s just a good human being.
So why am I sharing this story? There is important meaning, both for business and in life.
4 Business & Life Takeaways
Jersey Mike’s Manager, Tom
- Listen to your customers. Okay, you’re not going to provide free products or services too often, if ever. That’s not the point. If you really listen and pay attention, you might learn something that helps your business. If not today, then down the road. You may also decide to take an immediate action based on what you’ve heard and how you assess the situation.
- Lead and develop. Give your employees and team some operation and decision-making freedom and flexibility. Teach them how to apply the values and business practices important to you and your company.
- Small things matter. This woman is going to tell the story to all her friends and family. She started doing it on the ride home from Jersey Mike’s. This is goodwill and super positive word of mouth for this Jersey Mike’s shop and for the Jersey Mike’s brand. It may not tally up as ROI on a spreadsheet, but it’s still good business.
- Be a good person. Whether in business or in life, try to do the right things. We all make mistakes and none of us are perfect, yet over time it’s usually easy to tell who the good people are versus the “fill-in-the-blank adjective” people. When you try to do the right things, good things often happen. Plus, you’ll just feel better.
Thank you, Tom, for the kind gesture, providing an uplifting experience to someone who could use one and for being a good person! I hope your Jersey Mike’s store is a great success.
Harvey Chimoff is a customer-focused global business leader who connects marketing across the organization to drive performance and achieve business objectives. His marketing expertise includes B2B, CPG brand management and consulting. Contact him at harveychimoff.com.