The Minus Touch: don't miss those coachable moments

I needed to get a headlight bulb replaced on my car earlier this week, so I decided to stop by a local automotive repair shop while I was out running errands. Without naming them specifically, let's just say it's a national chain that rhymes with "Minus".  

The guy behind the counter greeted me as I walked in. I asked if they could replace the headlight bulb on my car. "We probably can," was the response. OK - how do we narrow this down to "Yes, we can" or No, we can't"? He said he'd have to check, but he mysteriously kept working on the paperwork he had in front of him. Not a great first impression.

As the first guy was finishing up his paperwork, a second employee walked into the lobby and started looking something up on the computer. The second guy appeared to be more experienced than the first guy, though not necessarily his boss. I got this impression when he turned to the first employee and asked "Are you helping this guy?" I should have said, "No!", but I missed my moment and the first employee said "Yes."

That was the first guy's cue to check the computer and see if they had the proper headlight bulb for my car. He clicked around on the computer for a moment before he turned to the second guy and asked, "Do we have these headlight bulbs?" The reponse was a gem:

"If it says we have them, we have them. If it says we don't have them, we don't have them."

Needless to say, after a bit more fumbling I figured the answer to my "Can you help me?" question was "No." With that, I did what I should have done in the first place and took my car to Kearny Mesa Acura which was quick, convenient, and they even washed my car. (Four stars on Yelp - see the review.)

Coachable Moments

The more experienced employee in this scenario missed two golden opportunities to help his co-worker perform at a higher level. It didn't matter if the experienced guy wasn't the boss -- his co-worker's poor performance cost them both a customer. Here are the "coachable moments":

First Contact: Mr. Experience should have greeted me as soon as he walked into the lobby and asked, "Is my co-worker (________) assisting you?"

Inventory Check: Mr. Experience should have given his co-worker a more polite lesson in inventory. For example, he could have said, "The computer is pretty accurate, but if we're out of a part we can order it and get it here quickly."