Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I have mixed feelings about black businesses. I support entrepreneurship 100% and admire those that decide to take a leap of faith, and become their own boss. I always have, and always will support black establishments but I am often disappointed in our business practices, most notably our customer/employee relations. We all know that "hole in the wall" restaurant. The service is lousy, the waitress is inattentive, the food takes forever and wait for the Pièce de résistance... they ran out of biscuits! You ignore these inconveniences because they have the best food, with a taste that gives you the nostalgia of grama's kitchen and that price.. well you can't beat it with a stick. Or how about your local beauty parlor/barber shop (ignorance is not gender specific). You have to wait for hours before you can sit in a chair. You would make an appointment but the last time you did, your hairdresser/barber pushed you back to squeeze in one of their relatives who's late for work, or perhaps they decided to make a run to the bank (on your dime). To me, a good soul food restaurant is a rarity and hard to replace but some of these beauticians and barbers need to brush up on their customer service skills because in this economy, they need all the clients they can handle. It seems to me, that some think they can stand to lose a few clients.
My (former) barber was working out fine until today. I had no intention of dropping him until he made it abundantly clear that he didn't need my patronage. I was taught that if I spend my hard earned money at an establishment, I should receive excellent service. Some African Americans deem themselves unworthy of receiving the same service that whites demand (but I digress.. that's a completely different article). I asked my barber if he would be able to come to my grama's house and cut her hair. She was more than willing to pay whatever price he established, knowing that it may be an inconvenience to do a house call. His response was "I don't know if that's worth my time.. make it worth my while". Suffice it to say, "homeboys" services are no longer needed. Dropping him was a tough decision but I just can't seem to wrap my head around the concept of spending money where I "tolerate" the service or feel less than appreciated. There is a cultural norm among us in the workplace, where we feel a sense of relief when a black customer walks through the door (due in part to the scrutiny we feel from whites). Our warmth is comforting, our smile inviting and our laughter is indescribably joyful. I get it.. believe me I do. But these very qualities can translate into employees being overly casual and distastefully familiar with customers. I've experienced some very well put together black restaurants and other establishments but the bar could still be set a little higher. Can we please show some semblance of professionalism?