“It’s not a self-service line,” an ARAMARK employee shouted to my friend last night as he placed two slices of pizza onto his plate all by himself in Douglass Dining Hall.

He had been waiting for someone to attend to him for about seven minutes before he decided to be rebellious. He sure suffered the consequences of his defiant actions.

Unfortunately, my friend isn’t alone in his experience. These interactions are common between students and ARAMARK employees over the course of the semesters.

While there are definitely workers who are joyful and friendly, eventually their smiles wane and the cheerful banter that greets us after that dreadful linear algebra class disappears.

However, to put blame on the workers would be using them as a scapegoat.

These kinds of incidents suggest that the real culprit is the corporate mentality of ARAMARK.

In this highly competitive world of today, the one thing that separates the great companies from the mediocre ones is customer satisfaction and loyalty.

However, customer satisfaction isn’t always about pleasing the customers. Sometimes, it’s about pleasing the people you put on the front line – your employees.

The employees are the day-to-day representatives of any firm, and if they do not share the goals and visions of the company they work for, it shows to the customers.

Recently, supermarket chain Wegmans was rated the No. 1 Fortune 100 Company to work for and became the 22nd member company of their Hall of Fame.

Chief Executive Officer Robert Wegman explained the success as, “No matter how much we invest in our people, we get much more in return.”

The same kind of mentality has allowed low-cost airline JetBlue to increase their operating margins, and hence profits, continuously even after the devastating effects that the September 11 attacks had on the airline industry.

It’s a simple corporate philosophy to follow – if you treat your workers well, your workers will feel better about their company and will represent the company favorably, which eventually leads to the customers being treated better.

Workers who are treated nicely will respond to their company’s attitudes by treating their customers well.

Hence, in return, the company will have the loyalty and satisfaction of the very customers they were trying to attract in the first place.

Therefore, to ARAMARK, I say that you don’t have to give me another 1,500 meals per semester or squeeze Liberia’s debt in my declining dollars to make me happy.

Just care more for the people who are managing the bulk of your operations and I will feel much happier.

Madhur can be reached at smadhur@campustimes.org.

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