Ask Your Employees

The next morning, Simon and Greg met at First Watch to talk more about their turnover problem. It was a relaxed environment, the food and service were great, and that made it Simon's favorite place for breakfast meetings.

“So you're just going to go around and ask them why people are leaving?” inquired Greg, half serious and half sarcastic.

“Let's remember, Greg, they know things about our business that we don't know. I read an article last month about the president of American Airlines. Refueling costs were killing them, especially at airports where they had to contract other airlines to refuel their planes. One day he was pondering the problem after a meeting with his executive team that went nowhere. So he drove out to Fort Worth from his office in downtown Dallas, went down to maintenance, got a couple of crews together, told them the problem, and asked them what they thought the solution was.

“They just looked at each other. Some smiled, some just shook their heads. They all knew the answer. Put enough fuel in the planes while they are in Dallas to fly to and from Los Angeles. The plane will use a little more fuel, and if delayed you may need a top-up in LA, but it will still be cheaper than contracting a third party to refuel the planes in LA. In the next twelve months, American Airlines saved millions of dollars because of this single idea…even with the rising cost of fuel.”

Greg sat there pondering as Simon continued. “The employees know things about our business that we don't. We should do a survey and ask them why they think so many people come and go.”

“A survey? How much will that cost?” Greg asked, always obsessed with the bottom line.

Shrugging his shoulders, Simon said, “I don't know yet, but I know it will be worth it. You'll be amazed at what they'll tell us. Nobody knows the business like those who work in the trenches of it every single day. Ask your employees. They know more than you think.”

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