What Can We All Learn From the Restaurant Business?
We took the kids to a restaurant today for lunch after church, and although this particular place has been a mainstay for the Crouch family for awhile and my wife was excited about going there, today's experience was lackluster at best. I will probably devote an entire post to this later in the week and I will name it then, but the subject of this post might make it distracting. Suffice it to say that there were a couple of things that came up both during our meal and as a result of our conversation that made me think of writing this post. I promise you that I will get around to the lesson if you bear with me.
First of all, I ordered one of their large hot dogs with a side of fries, and I asked for cheese on the "dog" (that's heart healthy, right?). My wife ordered the same salad that she gets probably half the time that we go there. I hadn't had one of their giant hot dogs before, but I was very surprised when I went to pick up our order and there were two single slices of American cheese that were fully unmelted and roughly room temperature. Yuck! This was not what I had in mind at all. This place offers a burger with three different kinds of melted cheese, and my wife's salad even had grated cheese on it, so I know that grated cheese exists in their kitchen.
Why would they consider this acceptable? I turned around and was about to take it back to the counter after showing it to my wife, then I spotted the manager and asked him about it. He said that this was not really the norm (whew!) unless I asked for that. Of course I hadn't asked for that, nor would anyone in their right mind. It makes it even worse to realize that I could have had the chili-cheese dog with this particular cheese. Gross! My wife made me laugh very hard later in the car by saying, "Oh, thanks for placing those two slices of American cheese there! Now, I can....fold them....and place...them...gingerly...on the bun...beside my hot dog?" The manager rectified the problem by offering grated cheddar cheese and he brought the "repaired" meal to the table himself. Score one for the manager.
Some corporate idiot had decided to change my wife's salad portion and take away the accompanying pieces of bread. I don't know if I have seen my wife that ticked at a restaurant since we had a bad experience with a complete lack of high chair cleanliness at a Round Rock establishment (could be yet another future post). They dramatically changed the portion and even the style of plate that it comes on now. It used to be on a very large, square plate, and now it was on a basically normal round plate. She couldn't even finish it previously, but today she finished it and was still hungry. I'm sorry, ma'am, but we decided to shrink your salad in half. The good news is that you can still pay $7.99 for it! The reason I know that it was a corporate brainiac is that they abruptly told us, "Corporate decision. That's how it comes now."
So, what does this have to do with real estate? I am so glad you asked.
The restaurant manager certainly did the right thing in correcting the issue that I had with my meal today, but it still left a bit of a smudge on the experience for me. Things would have been fine, however, had we not had a subsequent problem with the salad, which left my wife questioning whether we would even return.
How many times have you had real estate deals like this? Have you had clients that were disappointed, then you fixed the problem, only to have another one surface? If not, you either haven't been in real estate very long, or you are incredibly blessed. The point here is this: Many times we will undergo challenges with getting transactions closed, but our clients will stick with us and even praise us if things are ultimately handled well. In our case today, they may have lost a previously loyal customer (maybe not). However, this could clearly have been avoided at the corporate level.
Sometimes, we assume that our past clients will simply remain loyal to us on future sales and/or purchases. If the service is stellar the first time, that may indeed be true. Even if the service is perfect, though, the sheer number of licensed agents makes us much like restaurants ourselves, since there is basically an agent to be found everywhere you look. In Austin, Texas, you can't swing your arms without hitting an agent these days (we have over 11,000 now). If agents are this easy to find, what are you doing to retain market share in the minds of your clients?
I am so tempted to end this post with a play on words about it serving as "food for thought", but I won't. Instead, I sincerely hope this is something worth reading, considering, and discussing. If so, I did my job right on this one.
Thanks for reading!