As a lifelong entrepreneur, it is no secret that William Manzanares has a passion for business. This, of course, includes working for success for himself and his employees but there are others out in the broader community that he also wants to help succeed – the youth.
“Mentoring our young people is actually what I feel is my true calling,” he said. “It takes me back to when I was younger and trying to figure out my way in this world.”
In doing some research on putting together a set of books on business for youth, he pondered the questions, “What makes a child have a good work ethic upon reaching adulthood? Is there a correlation between work ethic and the timeframe when one enters the work force?” To further pursue these questions, he decided to organize the first “bring your child to work day” at Smokin’ Willy’s on Nov. 11 and it was a win for everyone involved.
Even though National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is recognized on the fourth Thursday in April each year, Manzanares decided not to wait for this day, and he encourages other working people and business owners to do the same.
“This is our future generation we’re talking about,” he said. “If I can do it at Smokin’ Willy’s, anyone can do it anywhere. I believe that employers should take this on and not just in April.” And it doesn’t have to be for the whole day, either. Manzanares says that even a few hours is enough to make an impression on children by seeing their parent and other adults modeling workplace behaviors and how to behave on-the-job.
“Helping kids learn how to move about in an adult world and develop social skills at an early age will last them a lifetime,” he said.
For his first “bring your child to work day” at Smokin’ Willy’s, Manzanares took five of his staff’s children under his wing ranging in age from 3 to 7 years old – Amiya, Isaiah, Amelliah, Isabella and Dorian. He had matching “trainee” T-shirts made up for each one of them and spent time talking with them about things like customer service and that there are ways to be productive throughout the day in between customers, like making the Bulletproof brand coffee Smokin’ Willy’s sells.
“They were so excited to come in and learn,” Manzanares said. “There was a lot of laughter and a lot of fun.”
He made it clear to the children that the tobacco products were strictly off limits.
“I told them ‘you are not allowed to touch the icky stuff’ – you can handle cash and help with coffee, but not that,” he said.
The young workers learned that every time the bell rung it meant that a customer had driven up to the drive-through window, and these moments were a big deal to the kids.
“They’d get so excited when the bell rung that they would all just barrage the window,” Manzanares said with a laugh. “Some customers really enjoyed talking with the children, asking them things like how much are you getting paid and what they were learning. The joy and excitement the kids had said it all.”
Giving doggie treats to customers with four-footed friends the car was a lot of fun for the children – so much that the kids even gave doggie treats to some customers without a pet in tow.
Manzanares tipped the little employees who did well with customer service, and this led at least one child, Amiya, to have an “ah ha” moment about spending her money right away.
“I watched Amiya talking to her mom about buying a sucker,” Manzanares said. “Her mom told her the sucker was 35 cents and said ‘you have money now – you can buy it.’ You should have seen the look of shock on Amiya’s face when she discovered she’d have to spend her own money on it – and she said no. I saw that whole idea of delaying gratification – she earned her money from tips, she had the money to buy a sucker and would not buy it because it was her money. She had that ‘light bulb’ moment to save her money. This is the first foundation of showing kids delayed gratification and working hard for their own money and that their parents aren’t just an unlimited source of funds. When you learn how long it takes to make a $1 tip and you were there for a long time, that 35 cent sucker will mean a lot less to you.”
To further their education that day, Manzanares read a book to the children, “Lemonade in Winter: A Book about Two Kids Counting Money” by Emily Jenkins and G. Brian Karas. Toward the end of day, the kids all wrote thank-you messages to him and his staff on a big sheet of paper.
“I will continue doing this,” Manzanares said, “only next time I won’t have a whole lot of kids at once. I have a new appreciation for teachers from this experience. I was mentally worn out by the end of the day, but in a very good way.”