Some of you might recall that about six months ago I wrote a blog about a friend of mine that owns a local restaurant that was struggling. I told him that until he nailed the four key “Moments Of Truth” for any restaurant: quality food, good service, reasonable prices and exceedingly clean… that he had no right whatsoever to expect his business to grow… or even survive. Well, I stopped in his place this morning for breakfast and unfortunately it will likely be the last time I ever step foot in one of his restaurants.
A quick story…
I was running late this morning but wanted to grab a quick breakfast before my first meeting. When I walked into my friend’s restaurant I was disappointed to see that there were only about four tables occupied. I sat down and one of the waitresses brought me an iced tea immediately, since almost everyone who works there knows me by name because I have been a regular for nearly 10 years. I knew that I had only about 30 minutes before I needed to run, so I mentioned to the waitress that I was in a bit of a hurry and she told me that one of the other ladies would be my server, she simply came over to drop off my tea.
As I sat at my table waiting to place my order I listened as three of the waitresses stood in the corner complaining about their customers, with my waitress especially perturbed because a table had left her a very small tip… all in coins (Last time I checked that was customer code for: the service was bad and I am trying to make a point by leaving you a crappy tip… all in coins). Then the waitress that was assigned to my table looked over to me and said, “Are you waiting on me?” To which I replied, “Yes,” only for her to turn and go clean up another table, bring coffee to some other folks, and then disappear back into the kitchen. By this point I had been waiting to order for 17 minutes and realized two key things: Number one: it is senseless for me to order because I will never be able to place my order, receive my meal and eat it… in time to make it to my meeting. Number two: it is senseless for me to ever come back to this restaurant – because they obviously do not care about my business. So I tossed down a few dollars for the tea and left… never to return.
I really like the guy who owns this restaurant. He has a wonderful wife and two great kids – one of them in college and the other one getting ready to go to college next year. Unfortunately, it looks to me as though his business is on a collision course with bankruptcy. The food is acceptable, the prices are a little high, the bathrooms are a complete disgrace and as I just told you — the service is even worse than the bathrooms!!! I have to put an awful lot of the blame on the owner as he allows these things to go on, but it also hurts me to think that a super nice guy with a great family is likely to be completely financially wiped out because his front-line employees don’t give a damn about the customers.
So if you are an owner, manager or leader in a business here is a lesson for you: you absolutely MUST NOT tolerate mediocrity from anyone on your staff! I have seen companies with a few hundred employees driven completely into the ground by a handful of incompetent or uncaring employees that cost everyone else their jobs and the owner their life savings. Do not let this happen to you.
Let me make this perfectly clear: in the kind of economy we are facing today, people are extremely careful about how they spend their money – especially any discretionary income on non-essential items. If you want to stay in business, and hopefully grow your business, you absolutely MUST deliver good quality products combined with absolutely stellar customer service. I can tell you from my own personal experience that there is no way in the world I’m going to give my hard-earned cash to any company whose employees do act as though they are anything less than VERY excited to be able to serve a customer. After all, it is customers who pay all the bills – who pay the employee’s mortgage and car payments – who pays the owner’s mortgage, car payments and the college tuition for their kids – and if you cannot deliver consistently superior customer service and high quality products – then there’s no reason that any customer should be loyal to your business.
Therefore it is essential that you work to create highly engaged, loyal, and dedicated employees who are fully committed to producing the best quality products they have ever made and backing that up with exceedingly excellent customer service, day in and day out – for every single customer –period.
What if you are the employee?
Right now many, many businesses are struggling to stay in the black. Believe me when I tell you that they’re looking at every single expense, every single person on the payroll, every dollar that goes out the door… more carefully than they have ever examined them before. If you, as an employee at one of these companies, are not coming in every day and adding tremendous value to the business by doing high-quality work and delivering superior customer service (to both internal and external customers) then there’s a good chance YOU might be one of the expenses that gets cut.
Let me make this perfectly clear again: in the kind of economy we are facing today, nobody owes you a job. Business owners do not have an obligation to offer you very high wages for mediocre work. If your manager, boss or owner cannot look at the work you do and see exactly how you add tremendous value to their business… then they have an obligation to help you improve or remove you from the business. To me it is completely unfair for other people to lose their jobs or the owner to possibly lose their life savings, because a handful of employees were not willing to step up and do everything they could to make the business successful and approach every day they come to work with “an ownership mentality.”
Here is the truth: The future success of your business is directly tied to the quality of the people you can get on your team and the quality of the products and services they deliver to your customers.
Really great employees with fantastic attitudes who consistently deliver the highest quality products and services possible and build excellent relationships with their customers are essential elements for building and sustaining success in business – and I cannot make it anymore “Awesomely Simple” than that.
I hope you found this blog of value and will pass along to anyone you feel might benefit from reading these thoughts and ideas. Take good care – John Spence