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?
I went to a hockey game with a good friend of mine several ago. During the standard 15 minute intermission we stopped by a concession booth to grab a bite to eat. We were having a great conversation and lost track of time. 15 minutes had passed, and the line had barely moved.
Then we really started to pay attention to the guy who was serving us. He was slow, lethargic and very methodically serving people. By the time we finally received our food, 10 minutes of the next period had expired.
But the story gets better. I had ordered nachos with cheese. He proceeds to ask me,
“Do you want jalopinoes with that?”
I responded with a laugh,
“Did you mean jalapeno peppers?”
“Yeah, whatever… jalopinoes”.
That was one of the funniest interactions that I ever had at a fast food counter! I wish I could recreate his voice in this post.
Sitting back and watching this young man work slower and slower, as the line got longer and longer with no manager intervening was memorable, for all the wrong reasons. They were obviously not motivated to do their job to the best of their abilities, had no enthusiasm, and would have rather been anywhere but there. Maybe that was “just how he rolled”, but certainly a little encouragement and support from the managers could have helped him speed up and engage people a little better.
Now on the flip side…..
When was the last time you had a memorable service experience at a fast food restaurant?
I did, over and over, and it was only ever to order food in the restaurant and take it out, or go through the drive thru. It took a few visits to realize that it was a different experience than other similar restaurants. The owner who worked behind the counter a lot of time was a difference maker. The employees (typically young teenagers) bought in to what he was teaching and how he was training them. The positive attitude was very noticeable. Everyone was unflappable during busy times. I had never seen a fast food restaurant be so in synch with people lined up to the door!
I often observed the owner encouraging the kids, and tactfully discussing things with them when they did something wrong. The incredible part was he owned two different locations, and the experience was exactly the same at each one. Kids as young as twelve and thirteen years old showed work ethic and levels of maturity unheard of at that age. They always had smiles on their faces, and never hesitated to engage customers. They certainly realized how important their customers were to the company’s success.
Some of the kids used humour in their approach. One girl sang a song to us in the drive through, as a way of asking for our order. Another girl quoted our order total in pennies and not traditional dollars and cents. The owner was involved with many local charities, and it was well documented in the community. I know that he taught the values of helping others to his staff, and that certainly helped in their development as they became young adults. The team work within the group was very solid as well. I never saw one person say “That is not my job” or comparable when they were working.
One manager, one leader can make all the difference in the world. There is a reason that I am able to recall this so vividly, but rarely remember details of the hundreds of other fast food experiences during my life (except for the “jalopinoe incident”.
He could motivate, teach, inspire, and get the young adults to buy in to his plan. He was able to properly tell them when they did something wrong, without them feeling bad about it. And when you include consistent smiles on their faces and prompt service, it made for an enjoyable experience every time!
His team had “IT”, and I truly do not know what “IT” was. But when you walked through the doors, you could feel the different vibe almost instantly.
Think of your experience as a leader in your career and personal life.
- What things have you done over and over that brought you success?
Great job and keep doing those things.
- Now think of things that you did once or twice, they were successful, but you stopped doing.
Start doing them again! If something works, repeat as often as you can.
Why do you think that certain sports coaches have success wherever they go?
They have tried and testing techniques and keep repeating them. The message may be tweaked over time, but they never stray too much from what gave them initial success.
Remember the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”