I just spent the last thirty minutes trying to find a gas station that had “free air” to fill up a tire. Since every single station that I found had a coin operated hose, I had to actually come back home, grab some change, and go back to the gas station. A huge nuisance that left me extremely frustrated especially because I knew that “free air” used to be the norm. I can’t even remember the amount of times as a kid I had a low tire on my bike and I would stop at a gas station to fill it up. Now kids have to carry some cash on them just in case?
So I could have probably went in, bought something, asked for some extra change (since I do not carry cash) and filled my tire but I didn’t need anything. So instead of paying a dollar or two, I would have ended up probably spending five dollars just to get air. I am left here wondering how much “air” is costing these companies, just as I would wonder how much water from a tap costs some restaurants that charge for it. Does the money they make from these really inexpensive acts turn people into long term customers or actually push them away from coming to that business again? Short term gain but long term loss. The lack of foresight that most organizations have to nickel and dime everything can hurt them in the future. Are they focused on not only customer experience but more importantly, customer loyalty?
This makes me think of my time as a school principal and a practice that we used to have with school agendas. These little booklets had our logo, information, and some cool little things in them that kids were very excited about when they would receive them. They cost the school about eight dollars a piece and it was something that was simply added to student fees for the year (at the same cost). Before I had been principal, the policy was that if a student had not paid their fees (K-6) they would not receive their agenda. I know that it is important that schools have accountability to their budget but something about this just rubbed me the wrong way. I thought about the kid who had a family that struggled and would never receive an agenda, not because they didn’t want to pay their fees, but they simply couldn’t afford the fees. Nothing like adding on to the the family that struggles with money, extremely visible to others by ensuring that their kid does not have an agenda.
So, I asked how many families in a year might not pay their fees and it was a relatively small number so we made the decision to just give every student their agenda at the beginning of the year whether they paid their fees or not. Did I think that some would catch wind of this and purposely not pay? Maybe, but honestly why would I make a rule based on a small number of people? Is eight dollars in a school budget of millions really worth stripping the dignity and lowering the morale of a kid ? Nope.
When the new process was discussed with the families of our school, what do you think the overall feeling was?
Something so little can make a huge difference for not only those that struggle but for those that never had an issue paying in the first place. They saw that we focused on putting our kids first and ensuring that we noticed how sometimes those little things can have a huge impact, in either a positive or negative.
Charging for air might seem like a good idea, but what will it do in the long run? Those little things that may seem like a loss now may actually lead to big wins later.