Pa. liquor board tries to improve manners

March 8, 2009 12:07:14 PM PDT
Liquor-store clerks across Pennsylvania are about to get a crash course in manners. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is spending more than $173,000 to try to improve the manners of workers at its more than 600 state stores. The board wants to make sure clerks are saying "hello," "thank you" and "come again" to customers coming in for wine and liquor.

"This is part of the renaissance of the Liquor Control Board," Joe Conti, the PLCB's chief executive, told The Philadelphia Inquirer for a story published Sunday. "The point is to become a specialty retailer and not be known as a government monopoly."

The board has hired a Pittsburgh-based consulting firm, Solutions 21, to help coach store managers on how to get their staff to be good sales reps. The managers will then go into stores and instruct clerks on things like how to greet a customer, how to read a customer's cues and where to stand.

Training is set to begin this month.

Eric Epstein, a Harrisburg activist, called the idea "a demented interpretation of happy hour."

"It's a sad state of affairs when you have to train people to be kind and courteous," he said.

But liquor board officials said they think the outcome will be well worth the investment.

"It may seem intuitive," board chairman Patrick J. "P.J." Stapleton III said. "But the reality is that, in stores around the country, customer service is inconsistent and uneven."

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