34 FABRICARE FE ATURE continued from page 18 hours. 1,400 pants can be done by one employee in a week, assuming a mere 40 pieces per hour rate. If I had insisted that the five pressers each press 40 pieces per hour, they would only work 7 hours a week, each. Impossible. By combining jobs, you will save money, create legitimate full-time jobs and have a staff you don’t need to coddle. If your drycleaner says, “Do this my way or I’m walking,” and then really does walk, you will send me hate mail or hunt me down. The drycleaner can’t say that (but he does), and you cannot have ultimatums brought to you that succeed in getting you to fold (but you do). Is there a solution? Yes, sort of. I was working at a plant in Alabama 20-25 years ago. The employees banded together during their break time because they didn’t like the changes the boss was making. They got the boss in an impromptu meeting in the parking lot. They all demanded a $1 per hour raise or they were walking, immediately. The boss gave them their raise and they all went back to work, happy. For years I struggled with this. What would I have done in that situation? I could not come up with an alternate course of action. If 15 employees walked, who would do the work? Even if they only left for a day, who would do the work? How would we explain this to the customers who won’t get their clothes? So, if I was put into that position, I would have given the employees the pay increase that they demanded, except for one thing…. 4. Understand there is a big difference between firing an employee, literally, and firing someone in your heart. Every one of those employees in Alabama needs to be terminated. They don’t get to make the rules. They are not “the boss.” Terminating the group is out of the question. When in doubt, remember customer service is Job One. We can’t let internal problems affect the customer experience. If you give in to the demands of your drycleaner, do so temporarily. Pretend he just quit. If he quit for real, you would begin a search for a replacement, maybe fill in yourself, or begin putting Plan B into effect. When you fire someone who needs to be fired, in your heart, you are clear that the ultimatum is inappropriate but you accept it. At that point, you can begin searching for a replacement. The employee probably figures you will get over it. In the end the employee has manipulated you. A very bad precedent to set for your staff. When the replacement is found – and remember, you are terminating an employee on your terms, not the employee’s terms (big difference) – the drycleaner is terminated and the rest of the staff is informed why this person was terminated. You pretend the drycleaner quit and find a replacement. Alternately, the drycleaner leaves you in a mess and that makes you gun-shy the next time a similar situation occurs (and it will because the last ultimatum worked like a charm). Will you find a replacement? Well, it is more likely that you'll find a good employee on your timetable than if you hired the first person who could fog a mirror because the former employee forced your hand. What can go wrong? You might lose sight of your mission to fire the employee for real because it falls down on the list of priorities. Be as committed to replacing the employee as you would if he or she had left you high and dry. Better to not terminate an employee because they put you in a bad place eleven years ago. Don Desrosiers has been in the drycleaning and shirt laundering business since 1978. He is a workflow engineer and a management consultant who provides serves to shirt launderers and drycleaners in the United States, Mexico, and western Europe through Tailwind Systems. He is a member of the Society of Professional Consultants and the 2001 recipient of DLI’s Commitment to Professionalism Award. He can be reached at 186 Narrow Avenue, Westport, MA 02790 or at his office by fax (508) 636-8839; by cell (508) 965-3163; or e-mail at email@example.com. He has a website at www.tailwindsystems.com. The author’s views are his own and do not represent official Drycleaning & Laundry Institute positions.