Rules concerning the proper care and feeding of customers
There are four main ones, as follows:
- Always greet your customer with a smile
- Never turn your back on a customer
- The customer is always right
- God bless the customer
and thousands of minor rules telling when to wean them off of the
bottle, how to rub them with banana oil when chafed, feed them
applesauce when peevish, when bologna may be given without causing
indigestion, and so forth.
Many young men struggling up the ladder to success in the mail-order or
online sales businesses have found it difficult to greet their customers
with a smile. In mail-order, the closest substitute has been found to
be using open-face envelopes, though there is a risk of their contents
spilling out. Online, textual and graphical systems have been devised
for sending virtual smiles to one's customers. In any case, these are
not as effective as a physical smile, and perhaps this explains why
online and mail-order businesses, in general, do not do well.
Do not under any circumstance permit your smile to become fixed. "A
fixed smile means a lost sale," writes Ezra Keyhole in a recent article
in the Single Sock Standard, the bible of the one-legged sock
industry. Thus, let your smile wander; just off the right ear one day,
between the Adam's apple and the lower lip the next, under the left
temple the third, and so forth. Regardless, make sure that your customer
can see the smile, unless you have turned your back, in which case, you
have violated the second major rule, and are probably better off spending
the remainder of the day getting royally shitfaced, or hitting on various
Naturally, no matter how successful your customer-greeting smile is,
there will come a time when you are the customer. Naturally,
smile-resistance techniques need to be cultivated, as "the successful
customer returns goods not smiles," says Petroleum Z. Gassaway, Cotton
Goods Prints Prince, President of the American Concrete Soap Corporation,
and largest shareholder of the Gassaway Suspender, Sewer Pipe, and Perfume
Company. At first, you may have difficulty when it comes to smile
resistance, but after you learn that goods are never up to sample,
shipments are always delayed "due to causes beyond our control," and that
"your complaints regarding shortages have been referred to the proper
department," your smile resistance will gradually improve, until all the
salesmen working your territory refer to you as "the horse-faced old
something or other that sounds like ditch, hitch, niche, pitch, rich,
stitch, or witch1. When that time arrives, you are surely well
on the way to Success. "I would rather be a horse-faced old something or
other that sounds like ditch, hitch, niche, pitch, rich, stitch, or witch
than President of the United States," says Querulous Q. Quackenbush, a
millionaire bridge merchant who peddled bridges from door to door for
years until he saved up the money to buy an harmonica factory and go into
business for himself.
An illustration of the use of this rule as the foundation for Success
comes to us courtesy of William Wiggins, the Shoe King, affectionately
known to the trade as Wigglejaw Wiggins:
All my success I owe to my smile. I began life as a clerk in
a shoe store. One day a heavyset man came into the store, and I
accidentally hit him in the shin with a stool. I could see he was a
customer, so I greeted him with a smile, whereupon he snarled,
"What're you grinning at, you damned jackass?" as he gave me a vicious
blow which broke my jaw.
It turned out that he was very wealthy. He paid my doctor's bill and
gave me $500,000 for agreeing not to sue him. I used the money to buy
my own shoe store and built into a chain of over 200. So I say again:
always greet your customers with a smile
1: Also itch, flitch, and switch.
Always do more than is expected of you
If you are a salesman or bookkeeper you should wash the windows or
relieve the truck-driver for lunch or shovel coal in the boiler room. Of
course, if you follow Rules 1 and 2 simultaneously, thus greeting your
customers with a smile while shoveling coal, you will be more efficiently
multitasking. This can be accomplished by either meeting with the
customer in the boiler room or by arranging to have the boiler brought up
into the office. You should be careful, however, not to turn your back on
the customer. By facing the customer and shoveling coal over your
shoulder, you can observe all rules at the same time and your progress on
the road to Success will be correspondingly greater.
P.G. Esterhazy, known as "Pig" to his close confidants:
Had it not been for the fact that I was always doing more
than expected of me, then I would still be a messenger boy instead of
a partner in one of the largest New York stock brokerages.
One of my duties was to carry orders from one of our most successful
clients to other brokerages in order to be quietly executed, thus
preventing the market from getting unduly excited. I invariably made
it a point to stop in for a chat with another broker on the way, in
his office, so that we could steam open the envelopes and, get the
information they contained, and act ahead of the market. My
commission for this service in the first year amounted to $500,000.
In five years, I had saved enough to buy myself an interest in another
As a word of advice to all young men seeking to climb the ladder to
Success, I urge you to remember: Always roll a small pencil under the
flap instead of steaming your employer's letters open, as I did. I
have since found that rolling is just as effective and more difficult
Never watch the clock
Many ambitious men have worked for years under the impression that they
were not clock-watchers, wondering why they still remained failures, only
to find that their offices lacked clocks. In order not to be a
clock-watcher, there must be a clock to watch. Indeed, if your workplace
has multiple clocks, not only are you able to not watch one clock, you can
double the effect by not watching two clocks.
Ignoring a clock is sufficient. It is not necessary to be boorish to
it, or insult it. You will find that acting like a gentleman in the
office works better in the long run, so the best method is to treat the
clock as you would a middle manager: pretend it doesn't exist.
Quite naturally, you will ask: How am I to avoid the danger of working
overtime if I do not watch the clock? If you are properly trained, you
will recognize that quitting time is approaching. Carefully observe the
secretaries around you. By a curious instinct which baffles naturalists,
these pretty creatures will, at the same instant, cease the constant
pecking by which they live. At this point, it is approximately
twenty-five minutes before quitting time. They use this interval for
preening their feathers, arching their necks, and generally making
themselves pretty for their mates. Then, suddenly, with nothing but some
collective instinct to guide them, they will begin to hop rapidly away.
This should be your warning. Run to the nearest exit and you will be out
of the office on the very dot of quitting time.
Paprika Kikapanopoulos, the Yankee Discount Shoe-Lace King:
All my Success I owe to the fact that I never watched the
clock. I always watched a pretty little secretary in the office. When
she began to put the carbon paper back in the supply closet, I knew it
was near quitting time, so I would prepare to leave. One day she
observed me watching her and smiled. I smiled back, and we went to
the same bar after work.
She told me she was the daughter of a very wealthy businessman, but
had a quarrel with him and wanted to show him she was capable of
making her own decisions and living on her own. I thereupon
successfully endeavored to marry her, after which I effected a
reconciliation with her father, and am now the heir apparent at his
company, with a salary of $1,500,000 a year.
Always pick your employer
Great success is invariably achieved by those who follow this rule.
The story of Maidis Marco, the great chemist who made his fortune
analyzing bootleg chop suey for timid eaters, and who is known as the Duke
of Mixture wherever chop suey is fabricated, is typical.
To achieve Success, it is essential to pick one's
employer. The first job a young man obtains very often shapes his
entire career, and he cannot be too careful in seeing that he is
Although I have been working only forty years, I have only had one
employer. I have received many offers of more money from competitors,
but a careful investigation always convinced me that they were not the
right kind of bosses for my temperament. And I have never had
occasion to regret these decisions, as I accumulated enough to start
my own business for myself after I had remained in that position for
So I say again: Always pick your employer. All my Success is due to
the fact that I picked mine, picked him clean, and refused offers from
others whom I knew I couldn't pick.