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Saturday, 16 July 2011

How to get paid more. Lessons from a fishmonger

Today we went up the road to order some fish.

We went to a place called Rockfish. It's so tiny more than three customers make a crowd.

Also you have to be patient. When we came in the man there was explaining - in considerable detail - the difference between grey mullet and something else to the man ahead of us.

While we were there a man came in with a box full of live lobsters. Eventually it was the turn of my beloved, who is planning a vast feast for Thursday.

There then ensued something of a discussion between her and the man about shrimps, prawns, what is the right size for pasta and (because he was curious) what is the right kind of pasta to go with what she's making.

She takes this kind of thing pretty seriously. Although I'm happy to discuss what the menu should be I try to keep out of the way when she's in the agonies of preparation. It's a perilous time.

Clearly the nice man at Rockfish takes what he does as seriously as she does. And he was happy to tell me that what looked like Dover sole was another kind that doesn't cost as much.

If we go down to my local Sainsbury's supermarket we can get fish cheaper than from the Rockfish place up the road. A hell of a lot cheaper.

But that's not a good idea. Their people can't fillet fish properly. They have no idea how to clean squid. They're pleasant but clueless. Not their fault - just bad management. Sainsbury's can run TV ads till clams learn to dance the tango. It won't help.

What people want more than anything else is to deal with folks they can trust who care as much as they do. Not all the management bullshit in the world can buy you that.

If you want to get paid a lot more, that's the secret. That's why giving people lots of useful information pays.

Incidentally Sainsbury's are crazy to have parted company with Jamie Oliver. Crazy. He cares, and it shows.

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