Sunday, 21 November 2010

"Kirk to my Car Rental Agency, Come in Please..."

My designated rental car agency, which shall go nameless, has alerted me that it doesn't matter to them how much and how often my company rents, it's first come, first served. Translation: you may have reserved a larger vehicle to transport your people/things, but if Mr. Stranger walks in the door for the first time, asks for the Impala and gets there ten minutes before you do, well, enjoy your subcompact, Mr. Frequent Customer. Enjoy it with a smile from the kids in ties behind the desk.

All of which is annoying enough, but add to that the habit the youngsters at said agency have developed in calling me by my first name, and variations on it in uncomfortable familiarity. Only a few of them ever ask me how I'm doing, instead they incessantly natter about their employer, apparently the best car rental agency EVER, and how they're all MANAGERS on a meteoric career ascendancy (managers who vacuum and wash cars, managers who chauffer clients around town, managers without subordinates...) Getting picked up by the verbose uber-cool young executives in training is something I avoid if I can. There are exceptions, unfortunately very few, but some are genuinely very wonderful young people. My only question to the rest of them (if I could get a word in edgewise) would be to ask them why I've never met managers in their company much over the age of 30, just an endless rotation of youthful idealists.

Shame on their company for taking advantage of their enthusiasm. This particular enterprise may be wildly successful, but on the backs of the white collar working poor. They can't pay rent on hope and dreams, which they eventually figure out and finally move on. They might as well list on their CVs under "Experience" the word BAD. The one thing they have to show for their time wasted is hopefully a lesson learned. My credit union is guilty of the same thing, with an ever changing array of University business students working as tellers, pardon me...Customer Service Managers (in training). You never see any of them make it past entry level, somehow.

The solution? Be real. Tell them they're starting at the bottom. Give them a career development program. Train them, support them, encourage them, and reward them. If they must drink your Corporate Kool-Aid, at least tell them to wipe their faces before they serve the customer.

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