Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Day I Mailed Corporate

I started thinking about what to blog about today last night. This led to a flood of thoughts and sleep was once again an issue and has led to a  flurry of other concepts.

This story takes place when I worked at the video game store. I took the numbers of sales very seriously, perhaps too much, and I was always looking for that edge to set myself, and the store apart. The managers there became apathetic towards the numbers and I felt as if I were the only one who cared.

All of this was okay because I was single handily, in my 18-28 hours of work each week, keeping the store's numbers in what the home office wanted to see. As good as this pattern was it all came to a crashing halt when the new wing of the mall opened up and a competing store opened.

One of the biggest sales numbers corporate wanted was reservations. To reserve a game all a customer had to do was put $10 down and we guaranteed them a copy on release day. The competing store though offered $5 reservations and loyal customer after loyal customer began to walk around with competitor's bags. I was furious.

I've heard the saying that, "It's not personal, it's business" but the way I sold was by making a personal connection. albeit a false one like a used cars salesman, so I took this new store as personal as one could. I loved the art of making a sales pitch, and this new store had come and destroyed the game I loved so much.

I asked the manager if our reservations would drop down to $5 and he said, "Corporate said not a chance". This further angered me because we were the only store in the district that had a competing store. I am very competitive and our numbers tanked. I took this personally and I felt a deep passion to get the store out of this rut.

On a slow Thursday night I decided to use our computers that allowed for communication with the home office and I wrote a letter on why we needed to go to $5 reservations. This letter was the first thing I had written since 7th grade (four years) and I wrote with a deep passion.

I may have had a deep passion, but my knack for writing in the conversational tone was there as was writing with a hint of sarcasm. Thinking about this I now know my gift of writing was always there because I must of had three or four pages of reasons why we needed to go to $5. Corporate, at the time, believed there was no difference in 5 or 10 because in the end the price was the same, but to the customer there was a big difference and the numbers proved it.

When I got done with the letter I sat on it for 10 minutes wondering who, if anyone, would see it. I eventually came to the conclusion that I had an idea, and the worst ideas are the ones that are not shared. With that I turned to the manager and he put in his code and the letter was sent.

Several days passed and I heard nothing from the manager. I wanted to ask about it, but I was scared that I would be fired for speaking up.

A week passed and the manager finally said, "You got me in a lot of trouble! Your letter found its way to some important people and they did not like the non-professional tone of the letter! Sarcasm? You used sarcasm? I knew I should have read it before you sent it. They wanted me to fire you, but we're starting $5 reservations next week."

I don't know if this is a story of victory, or defeat. I got what I wanted, but getting the tongue lashing I did I have been afraid to speak up ever since. Of course, at the time of this story in 2001, I was not diagnosed yet and I had a hard time understanding why the people in the corporate office would have found anything wrong with what I wrote. I got stuck on this and did not see the fact that I had, perhaps, aided in changing a policy of the company. Since that day I have, sadly, had many "worst ideas" because I am afraid to share.

1 comment:

  1. This is a tough thing. Personally, I might still write the letter. However, I absolutely will not write the letter with sarcasm because writing letters like this requires a serious and sincere tone. I will give you an example.

    Right now, I am in the process of writing a letter of intent to apply for a prestigious leadership program. I read the guidelines multiple times before I drafted it for one of my friend to read it over (as she is also writing a recommendation letter for me, too). A sarcastic letter is a no-no here because the ramifications of me doing that will be huge in a negative way. I will not only make myself look bad, but also the person writing the recommendation letter for me to get in the program. But, a sincere letter (as I wrote it last year, too) would set a positive impression, even though I ultimately was rejected because of how competitive the program is.

    With our respective experiences on something like this, the moral of the story is, you have to think about who might read your letter. The higher up an organization you go, the more formal and sincere you have to be. If you don't know who might read your letter, it's better to just put the letter in your back pocket than to mail it (or in this day and age- email). Otherwise, you are not only hurting yourself, but also other people, too... like in this case with your supervisor.