Can Business Really Be That Easy?

My wife is pregnant, and I figured that she might need a late night snack a couple of weeks ago. Truth be told, she was not that hungry, but I was up for some take out food! I convinced her to order something with me, and off I went. This was not a fast food restaurant, and had an above average menu.

I placed my order at the counter, and proceeded to sit down at one of the booths. It was half an hour before close, and I was the only patron left in the restaurant. There was a cook preparing my food, and one Manager/Owner.

The Manager caught my attention for the wrong reasons. He had a frown stapled to his face, and looked like he would rather have been anywhere else but there. This was not a young adult, it was somebody in their late 40’s/early 50’s who had probably been in business for some time. He seemed to be hovering behind the counter, watching the cook’s every more.

He walked right past me on two or three occasions as well, and never said one word.

I received my order a few minutes later and left.

I described my observations of what happened with the manager with my wife, and noted that he did not even say one word to me in an empty restaurant.

Her reply (grin included),

“Maybe you are expecting too much.”

Here is how I would have approached “myself” if I was the manager in that situation.

  • “Hey, how are you today?”
  • “Oh great! Have you been to our restaurant before? How was the food/service?”
  • “Fantastic! Just to let you know that we are under new management, and are appreciative of your continued support.”
  • “I will tell you what. Here are a few $5 off coupons for you and your friends to come by later. I would love if you help us spread the word! Thanks so much!”

Truth be told, I would have probably settled for,

“Hello, how are you today?”

But I am always trying to take things to the next level, and expect more than a simple hello!”

  • What type of interaction (if any) would you have expected from the manager in that situation?
  • How would you have interpreted his constant frown, hovering over the cook, and lack of interaction with me?
  • The million dollar question…. was I expecting too much?
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About Tim Mushey

Dynamic and energized sales rep, mentor and leader since 1999. This blog will be about sales, social networking, personal branding, leadership, music and having some laughs! Don’t be surprised if I mix it up on occasion, and talk about something totally different! I thrive on being part of successful, forward thinking teams. I am ready to go from the moment my feet hit the floor each morning, with the expectation that new adventures will be coming my way. It is rare that there isn't a smile on my face, as I take it all in, and have some fun along the way!

Posted on September 11, 2012, in Business and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. Tim,

    I would have expected at least a “Hello, How are you?” Most likely anything more than that would have been too much for me late at night. 🙂

  2. Great little blog. We can only hold one thought in our minds and for some reason – possibly habit – this guy was indulging himself in a negative thought.
    He may have just lost a loved one but the empty venue suggests that it may not have been a one off.
    I saw a quote yesterday ( yes 1 in a billion Facebook quotes is worth remembering) that worrying is like praying for something that you don’t want. Who knows what was vexing this fella but it wasn’t attracting anything good.

    Nice post.

    • Thanks Rupert! Yeah there could have been several difference reasons for his lack of communication, but I guess it creates a good conversation. Thanks as usual for stopping by.

  3. I simple “hello” or “good evening” isn’t too much to ask for, even if he was hoping to get out of work early. Whether he had a lot on his mind or not, he should have acknowledged you in some way.

  4. It’s sad that very often just getting what we expect is a wow today. With service expectations being so low, companies that do focus on the relationship have a huge advantage.

  5. Tim I am 100% in total agreement with you and if I were the owner along with those coupons I would have thrown in a dessert for your pregnant wife. I think I might have spoken to him and ask how things were going (always looking for a story and a chance to help). Now for the million dollar question…. No you were not expecting too much, this owner needs some intervention.. If I lived by you I would suggest we go check things out. Maybe he could use a copy of Greg Blencoe’s book The Supermanager (see Satudays post). 🙂

  6. Nothing to add that hasn’t already been said. Your expectations weren’t too high – the manager’s were too low.

  7. This guy desperately needs customer service training

  8. I think I’m disagreeing with most people here. As an introvert, I really hate being approached by strangers. I hate nothing more than constantly being asked during a meal if everything’s OK, for example. If it’s not OK, I’ll let the waiter know. If I’m not letting the waiter know, then everything’s OK.

    So I think if the guy had said as much as you lay out above, I’d want to walk right out of the restaurant.

    • Hey thanks for taking the time to respond! Fair comment on your behalf. I guess we were looking for different things in that interaction. You were looking for silence and that is ok. I have had dining experiences where people ask if everything is ok too many times so I know where you are coming from!

    • Hmmm… I’m a fellow introvert and I don’t see the connection. I’m not chatty and I’m comfortable being alone (I often enjoy it), yet I’m very ok with strangers talking to me. I *want* the waitstaff to check in with me. I’m paying good money for the restaurant experience and I don’t want to be ignored or have to track them down if something is wrong. I want them to get it right the first time, fix it when they don’t, and care about their most important customer (me!). There is a line out there between attentive and obnoxious, but good, courteous customer service can and check in without pestering.

      It’s a personal preference to be sure, but there is a difference between good customer service that recognizes I don’t want much attention and lousy customer service that ignores me out of sloth and apathy. A big difference.

      • Thanks Broc! Yeah there certainly is a fine line. Managers/Owners need to be able to adjust their styles with their employees based on who they are and how much they want to communicate. The same rule applies here.

        Some customers are more talkative than others, but if you don’t even utter a simple “hello” you would never know.

        But standing there like a stick in the mud, looking ticked off just gives off the wrong signals.

        Sure people can have a bad day, but I was told something at 15 years old when I worked at a buffet restaurant..

        “They said whatever is going on in your life outside this restaurant, please leave it by the time card punching machine. We need you at your best when you are working your shift.”

  9. I also have a ZERO tolerance
    policy against bad customer service.

  10. Tim I want to know did your wife eat what you brought back?Great blog enjoyed it.

    • Hey Richard! Yeah the food was actually pretty good. Thankfully I did not have to go back and get something else 🙂 Thanks so much for taking the time to reblog. Have an awesome day…

  11. Reblogged this on Practicebetterbusiness's Blog and commented:
    This is cool and a really good read

  12. SOunds like the guy is burning out and probably is doing all he can just too manage to pull himself out of bedd in the morning to show up for aother day of something he feels is beneath his station or overqualified… dealing with the public isn’t easy and who knows that demands he has placed on him? maybe he’s upside down on everything he owns and is losing his house and his wife left him because he couldn’t keep up with her expectations, you know, maybe life is just kicking him in the ass??

    you look young and have probably never burned out but it happens, people burn out… and bad things happen to good people.

    I would have probably said something to cheer him up or offer some glimmer of hope and try to brighten up his day in some way… try to make some kind of meaningful connection…Maybe just a few words would be enough to put him back on the right path??

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