Do you take advantage of teaching moments?

My daughter is almost as tall as me now; so, she needed a better beach chair.  While we were in Walmart one day we went out into the lawn and garden area and started shopping beach chairs. It's an understatement to say that the merchandising area was a mess. 

I remembered that my husband and I bought our Rio Beach chairs long before our daughter was born and she is going on 10. We paid a little less than $40 each and we purchased them at a regional grocery store. They have been frequently used and are still in great condition. So, we were happy to see that Walmart had a wide variety of Rio Beach branded chairs. The pricing was all over the place and we were surprised that there were Rio Beach chairs under $13. 

My daughter selected a great chair. It had a cup holder and a side pouch for a cell phone, wooden handles with big pink flowers. You get the picture a great dream chair for a girl's first real beach chair.  Well, we get to the check out and the chair rings up as $38.88.  We told the cashier that was incorrect. She called for help.  I walked back with the supervisor and showed her the rack.  There was one more chair hanging on the rack with the same price as the one my daughter selected. She said it's that chair. I said okay then I'll get that one because it was the same chair just a different color. 
A manager then came over and explained Walmart's policy.  He said if there is one or more of the same merchandise listed at the incorrect price then Walmart will honor that price.  As I thanked the manager for clearing up the situation, I saw two employees in lawn and garden talking and appearing to be bored.  I thought to myself that Walmart just lost margin on an item because the merchandise area was a mess and product had the wrong pricing.
As I was walking out the area so too were both supervisors.  One had to go and give the okay for the Cashier to ring up my item at the "incorrect listed" price.  The other was going out to handle the next thing.  But wouldn't my situation have been a great teaching moment for the lawn and garden associates who were just standing there talking?
I believe employees need to understand the dollar and cents of their actions and in this case their inaction. The more employees can understand how they contribute or don't to the bottom line and how essentially that bottom line affects them the better off the employees and the business.  For example, what if the Manager could have taken the two employees aside and quickly explained the financial result of displaying merchandise in the wrong area?  That it cost the company x dollars which trickles down to affect them by x dollars in their pay?  Letting them know how much margin the company is losing by something they have done or failed to do helps them understand their contribution in the process of the profitability of the company. So, the next time there is a teaching moment take advantage of it, I know I will. 


Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.