Water Down the Soap

The other day while washing my hands, the soap dispenser was down to the last unusable bit of soap. I then had a brilliant idea — water down the soap! So I did the only reasonable thing to do, as the leader, and I filled up the nearly-empty soap dispenser with water.

Thus, was born a new strategy for saving money…

In case you don’t follow the genius of my plan, allow me to explain. There are many luxuries in life that we don’t actually need — such as paper towels, napkins, hand napkins in the restroom, and even toilet paper for a short time! So I gave the command to stop re-stocking our office supplies of paper products, and I kept replenishing the hand pumps with watered down soap.

Morale seemed to dip slightly during this period, but the net savings of a few dollars a week was well worth the withdrawal. (What wonderful wording, W. Albert!) I expect morale to increase soon as my lowly employees begin to see the big picture goal and get on board with my vision for the company.

What vision? Well, the vision of being extremely frugal with money any way possible! Being stingy in your workplace is a virtue. The watered down soap is simply another way that I can excel in this endeavor.

I’m so excited — who knows what will be the next victim of my passion for saving money! My employees are probably thinking and discussing amongst themselves right now about what else might become scarce around the office! It’s obvious that they are pretty good sports about the whole thing and are very supportive of my efforts to be thrifty, although I have noticed our work productivity plummeting minimally as of late.

W. Albert Jameson, IV

On the other hand…
If you tell employees you appreciate them but skimp on little things here and there to save a buck, your team members will not be fooled about your words. The only way they will feel appreciated — and thus naturally produce more — is if you appreciate them with your actions in the smallest of matters. This includes refilling the dispensers with the correct amount of soap!

Money is utterly insignificant compared to the importance of treating people well. Maintain good relationships with your team members or else you risk slaughtering the goose.

Andrew’s Note: This actually happened where I (previously) worked. I lovingly call it “The Great Paper Product Shortage of Late Winter 2013.” All office “luxuries” dwindled to nothing, including the candy bowl at the front desk! This is how I discovered that adding water to certain soap pumps turns them into high-powered water guns. One day, as I pumped the soap dispenser, it shot a significant amount of somewhat-soapy water right at my crotch. I thoroughly rinsed the bit of soap away and went to dry off my pants with paper towels, only to discover…

  • G.J.

    Andrew…. That is a funny story. In 2007 the market crashed and I was a manager of a sales team that sold to construction companies. As you can imagine we were asked to tighten the belt. Our Division Manager was especially obnoxious about saving money. To get him to back off I held our monthly regional meeting (which I knew he was attending) in a warehouse loading dock at our retail center and bought two pizza’s. The total cost of the meeting was $20.00. Since it was July and the warehouse was not air conditioned I think he got the point. After the meeting I was allowed to renovate our conference room to make it a viable location for holding meetings. The conference room ended up being a great location with a full AV set up. It was actually so nice and well branded we used it for state meetings and customer experience and interviews. It also became a template for the new retail location built on the west coast. The company also saved money in the long run because we no longer relied on hotels that charged high fees. It is amazing if you “spend some money” how you can save and improve the result.

    Also as a middle manager I have learned to “take the argument to the extreme”. Out thrift your manager and make him/her feel the pain. If they want to turn off the lights suggest turning off the AC!