Sweatshop or sweetshop?

After hauling away several loads in the family automobile (ideally sized for New York driving), I concluded that downsizing could be a whole lot easier if we “up-sized” the family vehicle to one capable of transporting more and thereby reducing the number of trips. So off we went in search of the perfect SUV.

Now, there’s nothing I enjoy more than spending time wandering through new car showrooms. And one Saturday afternoon my wife and I found ourselves in a new car dealership – a brand we’ve owned before and one we’ve always been satisfied with, but a different dealership.

It was a busy Saturday afternoon at the dealership. But in a matter of minutes we were approached by a young man who was obviously at the beginning of his career in new car sales.

We talked and he showed us an SUV in the showroom. We asked to take a test drive and he stepped away to grab a key that we could take on our test drive. (Of course, a better test drive for me would have been to see how much extra “downsizing” I could fit in the back!)

While we were waiting for the salesman to return, we couldn’t help but observe an angry looking manager stomping his way over to one of the other salespeople who was in the midst of talking with a customer. The irate and insensitive manager impatiently interrupted. He was complaining that a certain piece of paper from an earlier transaction hadn’t yet been turned in and that a trade-in vehicle from an hour earlier was parked where it shouldn’t be. The embarrassed salesperson apologized profusely to the manager. The customers, seemingly embarrassed as well, did their best to ignore what had happened.

Too many businesses continue to believe that they can operate a sweatshop in which they can demand performance and instant results. And I’m sure these businesses find a way of surviving. But in our world, it’s too easy for really good employees to find a better place to work – where they are respected, properly trained and educated, and encouraged to achieve more for themselves and the business.

Personally, I don’t like doing business with a company when I sense that the workers are treated like a team of driven horses with the boss is sitting up on the wagon snapping his whip. I don’t believe that’s the way the world works any longer and, more importantly, it breaks the commandment, “Do unto others….” I believe that positive encouragement, proper training, and sweet rewards for excellence and accomplishment will always take the prize.

I also get the feeling that if they don’t treat their employees with respect, how are they really treating me? Am I a simply a horse of a different color to them? Am I nothing more than a chunk of money ungratefully being deposited into their bank account to make their numbers for the month?

The good news is that the experience helped me make a very critical decision. For now, we’ll keep the family car we have and make a few extra trips.




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