My name is Beer Meijer (18) and I’m a trainee at Prospectory. I get to watch, follow along, and – on occasion – brainstorm with these men and women who are seasoned veterans in selling ideas, concrete products and concepts. Besides that, I’m preparing for my senior general secondary (havo) final exams at the Vrijeschool and working as a team lead at the local Albert Heijn grocery store.
One could think of many reasons why every businessperson, economist or sales consultant should spend some time working the cash register at a supermarket checkout. It’s much more than just hours of practice in mental maths and performing under pressure when the customers are queued all the way back to the dairy case because your fellow clerk is sobbing behind the empty bottle return, her broken heart temporarily preventing her from taking her seat behind register three. Things get even more interesting when the irritation among customers is growing right along with the queue, someone interrupts you to ask where the cornstarch is and it turns out that unfortunately the shopping baskets haven’t been restocked yet.
There’s no better place in the world than behind a cash register to learn – in a hurry – how to keep your head cool and the contact with customers warm and friendly. In practically no time, you figure out that your own attitude is the deciding factor when it comes to customer interactions. Sometimes, you deal with more than one hundred people in an hour – and each and every customer is different. They are young, old, cheerful, grumpy, used to be in your class at school or are related to someone you used to date.
This, you see, is the point of my story. Despite how some people believe that taking up golf, hockey or kitesurfing is the way to expand their network, in reality, a job at the local supermarket will bring you into contact with exactly the people you’re eager to meet. I should know: I used to scan Frits W. Bakker’s customer loyalty card and give him back his change nearly every day. That’s how we met. In this world, it’s not about what you know, but who.