It's a warm summer day at the pool - kids are splashing, families are laughing together, and trouble is headed my way. It's a busy day, and our front desk staff is processing a large volume of cash transactions, in addition to credit card runs and season pass holders checking in. One visitor, we'll call him John Doe, comes to the pool and pays the daily admission fee to swim. He pays with a $20, and gets the correct change, including a few $1 bills. Mr. Doe enjoys his afternoon at the pool, then leaves to go do some shopping at a local mega-store. 20 minutes after leaving the pool - he's back at the front desk. "YOU GAVE ME COUNTERFEIT BILLS IN CHANGE!" he barks at the desk staff. The desk staff look at each other - OK this is new, and definitely out of the ordinary. One staffer, we'll call him "Dave" just because it's short for "David" keeps his cool. "I'm very sorry, sir, but can you let me know what's going on?" Mr. Doe continues "I just went to (un-named local mega store) and tried to buy something with the change that YOU gave me HERE at the pool, and they wouldn't accept the bills!! They said they were counterfeit!" Dave asks, "Can I see the bills you're talking about?" Mr. Doe produces a single one dollar bill. "Here. This...this one. They refused to take it. You NEED to call the police!! This is counterfeit!"Dave examines the bill. It looks normal to him - but this is an unusual situation. "Let me grab my manager - please wait here for a sec." Dave gets the manager, who comes over and also examines the dollar bill. At this point, the manager and Dave ponder several options:
1. Tell the guy he's full of BS - there's nothing wrong with the dollar.
2. Take the dollar, write up the incident, and report it to the main parks office, and let the guy know that someone will be back with him shortly.
3. Call the police and start an investigation.
4. Or - what actually happened...Dave, seeing the line at the gate growing, takes a dollar bill out of his OWN pocket, and offers "Can we trade? I'll take yours, this one just came from (unnamed local gas station)." Mr. Doe looks at the bill, looks at Dave, nods, takes the dollar and leaves. OK quick break - let's do some math. I'll round up to make myself look more generous, but also to make the math easier. Let's say Dave was making $9 per hour, and the manager $10 per hour. I'm paying staff $19 per hour to resolve this situation (rather than to help other guests or oversee other staff). I'm paying 32 cents per minute to resolve this - so anything more than about 3 minutes is not worth the time...for a single dollar bill. Even if they take just 15 minutes to resolve - that's $4.75 to resolve a one dollar issue!! Your time, and your staff's time, have a dollar value that can be applied to tasks - make sure they are being spent wisely. So kudos to Dave for quick thinking and quick resolution. We ended up with a satisfied customer and business could continue as normal. Many of the situations we are faced with can be solved with less time and effort than they are worth - keep your business plan in mind when training your staff. Epilogue - Dave was able to spend the "counterfeit" dollar with no problems, and he won $5 on a $1 lottery ticket. Oh, and he also got a raise.