I would like to share with you one of my personal pet peeves. And let's not make this a political issue- it is not. It's about how a company manages its image with its most important constituency- its customers.
I find it absolutely repulsive to be forced to walk by store employees smoking as I enter a retail establishment. I hate the smell, question the judgment of the employee and company, and think it makes the company look trashy. Call me a snob, call me elitist, call me whatever you'd like. But the facts are simple: there is a strong odor, it is not healthy, and it infringes upon my ability to breathe clean air.
While I have very firm opinions about people who purposely harm their bodies when there are available means to stop, let's not delve into that debate. People clearly have choices and theright to exercise those choices. I support that right. What bothers me is that in order to enter a retail establishment with the clear purpose of spending my money, I am forced, all too often, to walk past store employees exercising their right to smoke.
Employees are brand ambassadors and as such reflect the firm's value and beliefs. It is doubtful that any of the companies from the photos in this post want me, the customer, to think they value me walking through a cloud of smoke, smelling the repulsive odor of cigarettes as I walk into their establishments. And if my shopping trip is to include the purchase of food handled by these employees? I put this right up there with an employee NOT washing their hands after using the bathroom (not good).
Employees, as citizens and workers, have certain rights. They get a certain amount of time off per hours worked. They have the right to smoke. I wholeheartedly support these. But instead of polluting the store entrance and beginning the in-store experiences of customers with a cringe and a cough, I suggest retail management create a break area NOT IN THE FRONT OF THE STORE where employees can exercise their smoke break rights.
Not rocket science, people. Your brand starts not in the store, but in the mailer you send, the products your carry, the ingress/egress of your parking lot and its cleanliness (among a host of other things), and most importantly, your employees.