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Business Information by Gladys Edmunds

Business Information by Gladys Edmunds
At age 15 Gladys developed a travel service that would prosper for more than 30 years. She is a national award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, author and columnist. Visit her at

Your Employees Are Important To Your Success

Your Employees Are Important To Your Success

Recently, I was at my neighborhood gas station for service. The 20-year old service attendant – I’ll call “Jimmy,” not his real name - came out to help me. He looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. Usually he is friendly, cheerful and bounces when he walks. Not this morning! I chuckled to myself as I recalled that the last time I saw this behavior was when his girlfriend ended their relationship.

“Lose your best friend again?” I teased. Jimmy blurted out that next week might be his last at the gas station and he had no idea where he would find work. On top of that he had ordered new uniforms and the money would be deducted from his paycheck, leaving him with very little to pay his rent.

Jimmy recites all of this at machine gun speed, all the while his eyes welling up with tears. I slowed him down long enough to learn that the owner of the gas station had sold the place a couple of months earlier and decided not to mention it to his employees until a week before the new owners took over.

While he checked the oil in my car, he asked me, “Why are the rules so different for workers than they are for the owners?” I asked what he meant.

“Well, when I got this job, the boss said that if I ever decided to quit I should give him a two-week notice so that he could get a replacement. So, how come working people don’t get that same respect from the boss?” As he counted out my change, he said, “It just ain’t fair, it just ain’t fair.”

Just a year ago Jimmy was overjoyed to get hired right out of high school. Every week he would remind me that the job would help him save money he needed to start college. His dream of a college education made walking the few miles to and from work no problem. The day that he got his uniform Jimmy was as excited as a kid at Christmas. “I’m official,” he told me then, with wide eyes and a smile. One year later he had gone to the far end of the spectrum.

What bothers me most about Jimmy’s situation is that I had no reasonable explanation to offer him. It is true that most entrepreneurs expect a two-week notice before an employee leaves.

Considering this case is not about firing employees but a change of ownership, should Jimmy’s boss have told his employees that he was selling the business? My answer is yes. When I decided to sell the travel agency I let the staff know right away. As a result of the meeting the employees got together and bought the agency.

Generally our businesses grow because of our employees. Customers have more contact with employees than owners, which empowers employees with either keeping customers happy or turning them off. I use this gas station because I like the guys who work there. Over time they have shown sincere care for the little things that keep me on four wheels.

I don’t have contact with the owner like I do with Jimmy, but I know the owner. So, a couple of days later I stopped by the station and spoke with him. I learned that he had made enough money from the station to buy his dream business. He viewed his decision to sell as a personal one and not the staff’s business at all. Imagine that!

How would you handle such a situation? Before you answer, ask yourself a few key questions. How much have your employees contributed to the growth of your business? Have they been dedicated, loyal and honest? Do you have customers like me who come in often and continue to come because they like the people who wait on them? And above all, would you want to work for someone who places your future in limbo and leaves you in the dark?

It is reasonable to assume that when we make enough money from business to pursue our dreams that the employees had something to do with it.

Read other business articles by Gladys Edmunds