Thursday, 29 October 2009
Those of you who follow me on Twitter will know I had a dismal morning in Rotherham today...
I took a walk around town on foot trying to find a coffee shop to kill a couple of hours in,and was shocked at just how many retail units were either empty or in use as Charity shops. Not a Starbucks or Costa to be found! I finally arrived at a dismal little greasy spoon cafe in the arcade along the walkway across the river from Tesco, just opposite Wilkinson's.
I ordered a milky coffee (in London we call that a latte :-) plus a toasted tea cake (which arrived liberally spread with what seemed like marge) and proceeded to open my laptop to work on the manuscript for my next book.
After a while I noticed the woman (not sure if she was the cafe owner) leave the shop and gossip something to the fruit and veg man who was selling bananas outside the shop who then looked at me - not difficult to establish she had gone outside to have a moan about me using her juice for my computer.
So I took my plate and cup up to the counter and ordered a hot chocolate plus a packet of bourbon biscuits - just to show goodwill.
After a little while longer, the woman came up to me and said 'You've had enough time on that love, we don't normally allow it' meaning my laptop. As the pensioner who sat across with his 75p cup of tea looked on. I was incredulous!
There must have been 12 tables in the coffee shop; only three of them were occupied; I was about to buy some mineral water and invite the person I had been waiting for to join me there for another coffee.
Needless to say, I packed up and walked out, but not before giving said woman my business card and telling her if she needed any advice to help improve her customer service be sure to call me.
It's a ridiculously small incident but to me it sums up everything that is wrong with this country - the lack of entrepreneurial spirit, the view that customers are a nuisance rather than a business opportunity and the 'let's go on strike rather than try to add value' mentality that we are seeing hammer the last nail in the Royal Mail's coffin.
I am so passionate about empowerment through enterprise that I could cry at the dismal way most people approach business. If we want to rebuild our tattered and bankrupt economy the starting point is a sea change in the attitude of our people.
Oh and by the way, when I got back to my car I had received a parking ticket.
Rotherham, I won't be visiting you again any time soon.