Friedman Electric, Exeter, Pa., found a creative way to get its branch managers more focused on front-line customer service during a special event in May. The company put its 15 branch managers on the line as “undercover” counter salespeople. If managers were found working the counter that day during visits by execs from corporate headquarters, the whole branch was treated to a free lunch courtesy of the company.

“Operation Undercover Manager” was an opportunity for customers to voice their suggestions and ideas for ways to enhance the buying experience, and the name of each customer who was served by a branch manager at the counter was entered in a raffle for a $50 gift certificate.

“This was a good-spirited and morale-building event,” said Dave Glowatch, branch manager at the company's Wilkes-Barre, Pa., location. “It gave the counter guys and customers a chance to joke around but also to really speak freely about challenges and opportunities. We recognized some opportunities for product placement, I was able to up sell some customers — also recognized some inventory opportunities for improvement.”