Ireland used to be known as the land of 1000 welcomes. Something happened to change that though. MONEY! Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s when Ireland was on it’s financial knees, the government flew top level executives from US companies to Ireland, brought them out to a green field and told them that this was going to be the headquarters of their European Operations.
Many laughed, but the smart companies took notice and moved to Ireland in their droves to take advantage of an educated workforce, subsidised tax rates and a gateway to Europe. As the 80s turned to the 90s and then past the millennium, emigration was something our parents spoke about but we never had to experience. We were the children of the Celtic Tiger – an economic bubble (always destined to burst) where we had credit cards, jobs and for once were not at the bottom of the heap.
So where am I going with this, and what has it got to do with a Stupid Question? Ok, lets cut to the chase. As the economy burgeoned, something changed in the Irish psyche and the change was that people realised they didn’t have to work as hard for the business as they did before. Easy credit meant people had more money to spend and businesses exploded with new found wealth.
Waiters became ruder, shop assistants didn’t make eye contact for the entire length of the transaction and basic greetings were replaced with a grunt, if you were lucky.
How many of you have gone into a bar or restaurant in Ireland of late and been asked “Are you ok?”…
Am I ok? Seriously, is this the best you can do? Is this the most welcoming question you can muster up the effort to grunt at me?
Its the same in every bar and every restaurant. No sooner have you walked through the door and you’re being asked if you’re ok! You would think every establishment had hired a doctor to keep checking on us to make sure we hadn’t dropped dead or acquired the swine flu between bars. THIS is a stupid question.
Where’s the rapport we used to be so famous for? Where’s the idle chit chat about the weather or the government? Where’s the smile? Just because the economy is slowing down, it doesn’t mean that you can slow down.
(Stepping onto my soap box) Businesses, listen up! Let’s fight for the business, let’s work for our profits, let’s take care of the profit generators-our customers. Let the first impression not be akin to a hospital checkup, but closer to a welcoming greeting you would give to someone in your own home.
Take care of the customers because there’s nothing worse than an empty house.