Eileen Rosenzweig is president of Sir Speedy in Sarasota, which, with 2003 revenues of $3 million, was named one of the top 10 in annual sales of more than 500 Sir Speedy franchises worldwide.

"I grew up in upstate New York in a little town called Gloversville, an hour north of Albany. When I was 15 years old, I got a job waitressing at Washburn's, a family-owned company that made their own ice cream, had a little diner and a retail operation where you could stop by to buy milk. I had to do the waitressing, make the ice cream sundaes, staff the front counter and run the register. It was my first real job, and I worked 20 hours a week after school for $1.90 an hour plus tips.

"That's where I met my husband, Tim. He was the short order cook and night shift manager. He was also 15 or 16, but he taught me a lot. He was a very good multi-tasker, and he taught me how to concentrate; how to listen to people, which is one of the most important things you can learn as a young person; and how not to take things personally when your customer complains to you.

"We run our business with two philosophies: One, the customer's right; even when the customer's wrong, the customer's right. And, two, you're better off losing the battle and winning the war. Blame has no place in business. Even if it isn't your mistake, get over it, accept it from your customer's point of view. It doesn't matter what the truth is, it matters what the customer perceives it to be.

"It doesn't matter if the customer didn't order the hamburger medium-rare. If that's what they thought they ordered, that's what they should get."

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