Sometimes the best business lessons are right in front of you, or maybe what is not in front of you. In my case the lesson came in the form of french fries, or lack thereof.
I ordered french fries a few months back at a restaurant that opened up across the street from our office. "We're all out," said the waitress. Ok, maybe the truck was late, the purchaser messed up, etc.
Then it happened again a few weeks later. Then, I took a client into the restaurant and waited 30 minutes before anyone came to take my order. Then the real funny story: a client of mine went in and ordered french fries at lunch. "We're all out," he was told. "Well," he said, "I'll take a baked potato." "Here's the deal," the waiter said. "We only have so many of them, so we're holding them until dinner."
Well, needless to say, this restaurant closed its doors last week. It's hard to believe because when they opened the service was great and the restaurant was packed.
Years ago I wrote a story on restaurateur Ray Gallardo (founder of Casa Gallardo) and he said, "A burger is a burger, but your customer service will separate you from competitors."
This restaurant learned this lesson the hard way.
Business owners need to fight really hard, especially in these budget conscious times, to maintain their level of customer service. If you don't, running out of french fries will be the least of your worries.
--Ron Ameln, SBM