The CBS show Undercover Boss sent, Joe DePinto, the CEO of 7-11 into one of his franchises in Long Island.
His mission: to figure out how this little 7-11 manages to sell a virtual Niagara of coffee every morning, some 2500 cups a day, more than any other 7-11.
DePinto expects the answer to be complicated. But once he’s spent the morning in the franchise, the answer is obvious.
The answer is Dolores. She’s been working at this store for 18 years. She has been there a long time and, hey, she knows people. Some she kisses. Some she calls Darling. She greets many people by name. And some she hits.
"I got to hit you. You know I got to hit you."
And she does, on camera. There she is, pictured above, laying one on a customer. Because she likes him.
Customers reciprocate by calling her Dolores and some call her "Ma."
Dolores represents a conundrum for the corporation. In a perfect world, every retail employee would endear herself to customers as Dolores does.
But we can’t legislate this sort of thing. We can’t make it part of the "script" that employees follow. Nor should we try. Obligatory endearments are wrong, and frankly just plain creepy. And touching customers? Um, I don’t think so. Go ahead, just try punching one of your customers and see what happens.
But that doesn’t mean that "The Dolores effect," let’s call it, can’t be managed. We would want to do an anthropology of the Dolores effect. Who can do it? How long does it take to acquire? What is the developmental cycle here? Then we would want to create a Dolores training regime. Dolores is a naturally gifted social actor. We can train those who aren’t. The next step is to figure out an incentive system. I bet 7-11 pays Dolores what they pay other people who do her job. This is wrong. We don’t want Dolories to simulate her bonhomie for commercial purposes, but once she has began to built a community, we should darn sure make sure she is compensated.
The fact of the matter is Dolores is creating value. As it is, the only way we have to think about this value, the only way we have to measure it, is by the number of cups of coffee this 7-11 sells each day. Surely, we can do better than that. Surely, it’s time to understand the Dolores effect.
The YouTube clip for Undercover Boss. If you know the concept of the show, you may skip forward to 1:10. click here.