Here’s the Rub

I was excited when I saw the announcement on Facebook that Tom Douglas had created a new “Rub with Love” spice mixture to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Washington State Ferries.

For weeks I watched the special website created to sell “Ferry Gear” for more information on how and when to purchase.  (Wouldn’t you love it if your customers were clamoring for whatever you have to sell?  Waiting for you to “open”?)

I love the idea of selling Ferry gear – after all, the ferries are such an integral part of the Seattle area landscape.

Why not sell gear to make a contribution to our transportation costs?  Plenty of tourists – as well as a lot of locals – would gladly buy a souvenir of their ferry ride.  In fact, it’s such a great idea, I think they should make it a regular offering – not just a short term event as part of an anniversary celebration.

HOWEVER, ah yes, here’s the rub…you can’t buy the gear on the ferries!  There is a store at the terminal in Anacortes and the Coleman Dock as well as the website.  The website does state some ferries offer merchandise in the cafeterias but that has not been my experience.

Last week, while on our way to the Whidbey Island to visit the Inn at Langley, I specifically got out of my car and went upstairs to check for the special rub.  Yes, they did have a cafeteria.  They even had one of the clear glass, commemorative mugs there by the cash register – but no rub or any other of the special items.

Okay, I get it.  It’s a short run and maybe it didn’t seem worth it to stock all the items on this particular ferry.  But in fact, the cafe’ was busy and who knows how many sales MIGHT have been made.  I know I would have purchased at least 2 jars of Tom Douglas’ special rub if they had been available.

The “rub” that prompted this post was when I asked the cashier if they had the 60th anniversary Tom Douglas Rub with Love and I got the “deer in the headlights” look.  She had no idea what I was talking about!  I further explained it was part of the special commemorative merchandise – like the glass mug there beside the cash register.

She picked up the mug and with a look of irritation combined with confusion, she said “I”ve never even seen this until right now.”

As a former retailer, my heart stopped.  It’s bad enough to not have merchandise in stock and ready to sell where customers are – but then to have staff who don’t even know there is merchandise much less where to tell customers they can buy it – that’s inexcusable!

If there is an ad, be sure the staff has seen it.  A website?  Take the time to walk every team member through the basics so they can give general information to customers.  New merchandise, take samples or at least photos in to show the staff so they can encourage – rather than discourage – sales.

Whatever merchandise, sale, service or promotion you have for your business – make sure ALL your team members have enough basic knowledge to be able to steer customers TO THE SALE rather than away!  


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