Positive Feedback Goes Better With Cash

Jun 16, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Twenty-one employees at the Eegee’s fast food chain in the Tuscon, Ariz. area
received surprise bonuses from their bosses recently.

The company is having a good year, said co-founder Ed Irving, and it wanted
to reward long-time employees (10 or more years on-the-job) that had helped
it achieve success. The 21 receiving bonuses from $1,000 to $15,000 have over
300 years with Eegee’s combined.

Jennifer Islam, a store manager with Eegee’s, joined the company in 1990 when
she was 16. On receiving the bonus, Ms. Islam told the Arizona Daily Star,
“I was shocked. No way I expected that at all.”

She added that the gesture from the company “made me feel appreciated. It’s
nice to get something back.”

Dom Scala has been with Eegee’s for 30 years working his way up from a sandwich
maker at 16 to assistant director of operations today. Mr. Scala told the Daily
the owners, Mr. Irving and partner Bob Greenberg, treat him and each
other as though they were family.

Moderator’s Comment: What lessons are there in this
Eegee’s story for other business owners and managers?

The author of the article, Richard Ducote, makes this
observation: “We hear of bonuses in the millions going to corporate CEOs, some
of whom are later charged with felonies and/or horrendous taste in decorating.
But we hardly expect workers in the fast-food business to be getting bonus cash.”

The insightful Mr. Ducote concludes, “Positive feedback
is good. Positive feedback with cash is great.”
George Anderson – Moderator

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5 Comments on "Positive Feedback Goes Better With Cash"

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James Tenser
15 years 8 months ago

Eegee’s is a local favorite here in Tucson, where its real-fruit slushies are a natural antidote to our triple-digit temps. The shops are not fancy, but they offer nice sandwiches and cool drinks at fair prices, usually presented with a smile.

I think this company deserves a bit of recognition for what it has done to tangibly recognize its loyal employees. Money talks, as the old expression goes. Eegee’s employees don’t earn huge wages, but they seem to have a management that cares about them. Most QSR’s seem to have an opposite ethic – churn the hourly staff before raises are due.

I agree it might have been nice to extend the rewards to staffers with just a few years on the job – to encourage loyalty. Larger chains might find this kind of program too costly to justify, but I would submit that a combination of employee selection, training, and tangible reward would pay off handsomely in customer service quality.

Bill Bittner
Bill Bittner
15 years 8 months ago

Nice story. Too bad it won’t make the nightly news. Good move Ed and Bob, I am sure it will provide many happy returns. And besides, it is the right thing to do.

Bernice Hurst
15 years 8 months ago

Once upon a time a grocery trade magazine in the UK (nameless of course, although there is only one of any significance) decided to give each employee a cheese for Christmas. It was a major step for them to give anybody anything but it was also blatantly obvious that a deal had been done. Perhaps they had got the goods in exchange for advertising space? I couldn’t possibly comment as I no longer worked for them at the time but another employee (who chose to remain anonymous) was so peeved by the incident that he contributed a little gossip piece to a national tabloid which dutifully mocked the giver. The moral of the story? If you’re going to try and show appreciation then throw a little sincerity in with the gift. The gift itself doesn’t have to be fantastic; the old cliché about the thought being what counts is what really counts.

J. Peter Deeb
15 years 8 months ago

I am amazed that more employers/owners do not motivate their people in the way that Mr. Irving did. However, I would have taken the bonus way below the 10 year mark to motivate those employees that you want to stay for the future. These people on the operating level who meet the customers are the most important face of a business.

Al McClain
Al McClain
15 years 8 months ago

Sometimes a little bit of a reward goes a long way. It’s not necessarily the amount of the bonus that matters so much as it is the spirit. If a positive (and fun) working environment is created, employees will be happier, and more loyal. Just as shoppers enjoy a surprise sample, a surprise new item, or a surprise promotion, associates appreciate a work environment where they can have a little fun, and the occasional reward, too.


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