Everything’s Right

Foodie Friday again, thank goodness. My friend Barry is a restaurateur. He runs a place in Georgia and their tagline is “Everything’s So Right.” There is a lot of wisdom packed into those few words (very much like Barry!) and I got a chance to see that sort of thinking first-hand this week.

I went out with a friend for a beverage. We hit one of our usual haunts and she ordered something that she’s had there before. Unfortunately, what arrived at the table wasn’t even a close approximation of what she was expecting.

We said something to our server (our usual seats at the bar wouldn’t permit social distancing so we took a table) who mentioned that the drink was made by someone our friend, the head bartender, was training. She also immediately apologized and asked what else she could bring instead. Her attitude was one of sincere regret as if she had personally disappointed instead of just delivering a badly-made beverage. She wanted to make everything right.

Making everything right is long-term thinking. The problem in this case wasn’t a bad drink. What would have become the problem would have been the server not taking immediate steps to fix the problem with a customer-friendly attitude. In business, we don’t get in trouble for the things we do. More often than not, it’s for the thing we don’t do. That might be why we visit this place at least once a week.

There’s another restaurant in town that offers the best Chinese food in the area. It’s authentic and as good as I’ve had in NYC’s Chinatown. I rarely go there because the service is unapologetically atrocious. You can wait for an hour for your food to arrive even when the place is nearly empty. It certainly doesn’t take as long to cook as it does to arrive. Does anyone seem to care about making everything right? Nope.

Screw-ups are a fact of life no matter what business you’re in. 99.9% satisfaction means that 1 person in 1,000 is going to have an issue. If you go to sleep thinking that one person is far outweighed but the 999, you’re not going to sleep very well for long. Making everything right has to be the gaol in a time when everyone has access to social platforms and review sites. More importantly, it’s the right thing to do. When people spend their hard-earned cash on your product or service, they expect you to solve whatever problem – hunger and thirst in this case-, brought them to you with a smile. If everything’s not right, you haven’t, have you?

Leave a comment

Filed under food, Helpful Hints

9/11 19 Years Later

Flag of the United States

Image via Wikipedia

No Foodie Friday post today. I try to keep those light and today is not really a day for lightness. I’m reposting something I wrote 9 years ago on the tenth anniversary of a day that changed this country and the world, and not for the better. As I read it again, not much has changed, unfortunately. Take a minute or two today and think about that day and all those who were lost and who’ve been lost since as a result.

 

Today, this isn’t about business. If you want to skip it and come back in a couple of days, I understand. See you Tuesday.

I’m publishing this on 9/11, 10 years after a horrible day changed the world forever. I’ve spent a good part of the day thinking about the subsequent decade and how it was so very different from the 4 others in which I’ve lived that preceded it and I want to use today to share some of those thoughts. I also know we don’t do politics here – I think today we will, although hopefully in a non-partisan way.  So here are a few things I remember most about 9/11/01.

First, how beautiful the weather was that day. My commute brought me into Grand Central Station and as I walked into the sunlight and smelled the air with the smallest traces of Fall in it, I thought about how the weeks after Labor day are the best time to come to NYC. I now think about 9/11 every time it’s a really nice day.

I also thought how nice a day it was going to be for flying. A few work colleagues and I were going to San Francisco that afternoon out of Newark. We were originally going out on a morning flight but realized our meetings were later the next day so we changed flights a week earlier. Spooky.

Finally, the main thing I recall about 9/11 was 9/12.  And 9/13.  And many days thereafter.  It was about how for one of the few times in my life, the entire country came together as one.  No Democrats, no RepublicansAmericans.  I felt it in the emails and calls I received from concerned folks from all around the country and from other countries.  As a New Yorker, you saw it in all the folks who came to help from all over.

That all changed later and was, in retrospect, probably only a Band-Aid on some wounds that began to fester some time in the 90’s.  But MAN, it felt good.

That’s what struck me today – how those wounds have turned gangrenous and how utterly incapable we as a people seem to sit together and discuss how to clean up the economic and social messes around us, much as we cleaned up that other mess 10 years ago.  The memorials today showed me that we still have the ability to unite in a common good under a flag, but only if we stop yelling, start listening, and try to feel what we all felt after the unspeakable horror of that day:  that we have to find a way to clean this up and fix this.  Not as Democrats or Republicans – as Americans.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Leave a comment

Filed under Reality checks, What's Going On

We Went Back To Our Bar

Foodie Friday, finally. If you regularly read this screed on Fridays, you might have picked up that Friday afternoons almost always involved a trip to my favorite local watering hole. In fact, I devoted one Friday rant to the place.

During the pandemic, while we’ve ordered food on a regular basis from the place to support it as best we could through the crisis, last evening was the first time in six months that we actually went to have a beverage. While bars are still closed here in North Carolina, restaurants are open with limited capacity indoors as well as distanced seating outdoors. Our plan was to sit outside and since it was a nice evening we ended up staying for dinner as well since technically our bar qualifies as a restaurant based on how much food it sells.

Of course, we did stick our masked faces inside to check out what was going on and to say hi to some staff members we hadn’t seen in a while. What a difference. The bar area was shut down – it’s usually packed – and several tables had been removed to limit capacity. Many more picnic tables had been added outdoors to make up for the lost seating. But it did get me thinking.

Many changes have already happened in the restaurant business. The biggest one, obviously, is that a significant percentage of them have closed their doors forever. It’s a marginally profitable business in good times and these days are NOT good times. For those that remain, adjusting to limited seating and a lot more take-out has also changed how the restaurant is staffed and operated. The quality that people have come to expect has morphed into wanting that quality at home. Cafeterias have died and drive-through fast food has been reborn to a certain extent. Without the need for a lot of service staff, operating within ghost kitchens has become prevalent. In fact, one franchise – Dickey’s Pit Barbecue – launching a network of ghost kitchens, including virtual restaurants to expand their reach in Chicago, Houston and Orlando, and entering into a new market using only ghost kitchens in Providence, R.I.

None of the changes have been easy, and the disruption points to something that’s applicable to your business as well. That’s leadership. In a crisis, leadership is even more important than in normal times because your team tends to panic and freeze or do silly things. The businesses who have really won in this environment so far are the ones that have a plan, have a good, strong corporate culture, have injected a little bit of entrepreneurialism in it, and stress execution. It starts at the top.

Does that sound like something you’re doing? Shouldn’t it be?

Leave a comment

Filed under food, Helpful Hints