Monsieur Gouge and Sy Cophant, his clerk, were deep in conversation. Profits were down and Monsieur Gouge was not pleased with the return on his money.
Sy Cophant: But sir, the whole economy is slow. When the others use the consolidation formula pulling increased profit out for their stockholders, we see less earnings.
Monsieur Gouge: That’s no excuse Cophant! I want results. We must get results!
Sy Cophant: We could look at expenses again.
Monsieur Gouge: I knew you’d think of something. Read them.
Sy Cophant: Overhead: building, heat…
Monsieur Gouge: What can we lower?
Sy Cophant: The temperature. We’ll save on the heating bill this winter.
Monsieur Gouge: Your suggestion?
Sy Cophant: Well, research shows people usually slip their jackets off when they come into the store. I suggest we lower the temperature so they don’t have to remove their coats as they shop. That way, they’ll stay comfortable while shopping.
Monsieur Gouge: Very considerate. How much? How much?
Sy Cophant: The estimates show a 10 – 20% savings on the heating bill depending on the difference between the outdoor and indoor temperatures.
Monsieur Gouge: Excellent! Make it 30%! What’s next?
Sy Cophant: There are the employees, sir.
Monsieur Gouge: They always cost so much. What about them?
Sy Cophant: That’s the trouble sir, they’ll stop being customers if they don’t have jobs.
Monsieur Gouge: How many times have I told you, Cophant? The employees just cost money! They aren’t customers. The customers shop. The employees cost. When will you get that straight?!
Sy Cophant: Sorry, sir. You’re right, sir.
Monsieur Gouge: Lower the wages.
Sy Cophant: Lower the wages?
Monsieur Gouge: Yes, lower the wages. Except yours, Cophant, you get a big bonus because you do as I ask.
Sy Cophant: Thank you, sir.
Monsieur Gouge: How much?
Sy Cophant: Well, they’re already at minimum wage, sir.
Monsieur Gouge: Damn government. This is the government’s fault. So, what do we do?
Sy Cophant: We can lay-off staff.
Monsieur Gouge: Yes, lay them off.
Sy Cophant: Who exactly?
Monsieur Gouge: How much is payroll?
Sy Cophant leans over toward Monsieur Gouge holding the papers at an angle, points to a number on the balance sheet.
Monsieur Gouge: What? That much?
Sy Cophant: Employee wages are down 30% from 10 years ago.
Monsieur Gouge: All of them.
Sy Cophant: All of them?
Monsieur Gouge: Yes. I want that money. Stop paying everyone. Except you, Cophant, you can have another bonus. You are so useful.
Sy Cophant: Thank you, sir. I appreciate that, sir. But sir, the customers?
Monsieur Gouge: Sometimes, I don’t know about you, Cophant! You seem so smart and then you ask the dumbest questions. Haven’t you heard about self-serve?
Sy Cophant: It will be done.
Monsieur Gouge: So, how do we increase sales? Get more customers? Do you think I should Twitter?