“Silly Waiter” was a game we’d play when my two sons were little. One of us would welcome the other to our “restaurant” and take their order. Repeating the order – which often included lobster and chocolate cake – the waiter would, with a flourish, say they would bring it to the chef. In a few minutes, refilling the imaginary water glass with an imaginary pitcher, the waiter would apologize for the wait.
Finally, the smiling waiter would announce that the meal was ready. Each item was announced – spoken aloud in a reverent tone – while the waiter pantomimed taking the tops off the dishes.
The mood turned as item after item was revealed, since none were what was ordered. “I ordered lobster, not chicken nuggets!” “I ordered champagne, not cranberry juice!” You get it. The waiter apologized profusely between giggles. The order would be reinstated, the replacement meal served, and voila! Another disaster.
The game would end when the agitated and weary patron proclaimed “You are the worst waiter I’ve ever had in my life!” and brought their appetite elsewhere.
Sometimes the journey of owning a business or being a leader can feel like this.
The patron arrives, hungry, presumably for whatever we offer. From this point on we have control over their experience. They order from the menu they’ve been given.
- Can we deliver what we promised?
- Do we have the right customer-facing staff in place – and have they been trained correctly?
- How about our back room – after all, the chef is at least as important as the waiter!
- Do we have the supplies, the infrastructure needed to fulfill our promise? (The fresh ingredients behind the menu?)
If the order is delayed, or the customer is dissatisfied, the blame is largely on us. Their experience is in our hands. We must deliver what we promise, and manage our way out of the many inevitable (but often unpredictable) problems that arise.
Does anything beat the feeling that we have managed to build an operation that most times provides a 5 star experience from menu to table? Except for raising silly waiters, I don’t think so.
Until next time