I figured this time it would be different. This time I was handing the cashier $33 for a $32.53 bill. This time I was only going to get change back. This time they wouldn't place those bills in my hand first, then dump the change on top of those bills so that it could slide off the bills and onto the floor, the counter, or the road beneath the door I couldn't open in the drive-thru lane.
I was wrong.
He placed a receipt in my waiting hand, dumped the change onto the receipt, then watched with apathetic disdain as the two pennies slid off the receipt, rolled back across the counter and fell somewhere below his feet. With a half-hearted apology, he bumbled around under the counter until he found the two pennies. I was ready to leave, already pissed off that no one ever taught him this simple trick.
Place the coins in the hand first, followed by the bills, followed by the receipt.
First, if you're counting back change - something you should learn to do - then you will always do it this way.
Second, it is far easier to grab bills while holding coins than to grab coins while holding bills. Try it.
Third, this is usually one of the last impressions a customer has of your store. If that impression is your half-hearted apology, or worse, her having to scramble on the floor to get her money back, then you aren't sending her out on a positive note. She will have that bad taste in her mouth next time she decides where to shop and she won't even know exactly why she chose not to go to your store.
It isn't all that hard to train. It isn't all that hard to do. It seems like a small thing, but because of where it happens in the grand arc of her experience, it takes on a larger significance.
I didn't want to wait around for two pennies. But I did, getting more frustrated with every passing second. I didn't even want the receipt in the first place. I used to try to teach these cashiers the right way to do it, but decided that wasn't my job. Nowadays I just shake my head and make note of which businesses could use a training program (hint: every fast food drive thru, almost every chain store on the planet, and way too many indie retailers).
It is simple to give the change first. Plus, it makes a difference in the lasting impression she has of your store. Why more stores don't teach this technique is beyond my understanding. Wouldn't you think big chains like Subway would know this?
PS This is a non-negotiable for my staff. During training they are told that if they are ever caught giving back the bills first, they can seek employment elsewhere. There is no excuse for not doing something this easy the right way each and every time.
PPS Although I teach them and encourage them to count back the change, I am not as tough on that particular skill, so long as they hand over the change first. They instead say something to the effect of, "Your change is $1.58. Here is the 58 cents. Here is the dollar."