Thursday, June 30, 2011

2011 06 30 Take responsibility for your screw up


In business, there is nothing worse than screwing up your customer’s order and not fessing up to it.  It’s like lying to the press.  It stirs a bigger fire than the actual news itself.  Have you ever sat in a restaurant and they forgot about you?

This has happened to me several times.  I think it’s because I’m so small, I’m nearly invisible…  One time I was sitting at the roof top bar of the Sandia Casino and Resort with my friend, Maricella (about 6 years ago or so) and we each had ordered a drink, and after being served, we never saw our waitress again.  Literally, 2 hours had gone by, and nothing.  Well, we didn’t see the waitress; and she also forgot to bring us our check.  To make up for it, we took that as a sign that our drinks were on the house that night; and after 2 hours of laughing and enjoying the ambiance and scenery we left. 

Another time, I was with my grandparents at the Village Inn on University and the airport; you remember, the stinky one; for their famous Friday fish night.  Well, I’m not a big fish eater, however, my grandparents are; and Gramma is notorious for ordering a second helping  just to sneak it out in a napkin to take it home for left overs.  The last time we were at that particular Village Inn, she of course ordered her second helping as she was clearing out round 1.  10 minutes go by, some other customers come in and they get seated, no fish.  20 minutes go by, and another family comes in and gets seated; the first family is getting served their dinner, no fish.  30 minutes go by, the second family gets served their dinner, our waitress walks past, and doesn’t even acknowledge that we are even there. 

Now, my Grandpa isn’t exactly the most patient man in the world.  As a matter of fact, he absolutely hates when Gramma orders seconds, because he doesn’t like sitting there waiting for her to finish.  So, at 30 minutes, he’s already ‘mean mugging’ the waitress; and trying get Gramma out of her seat so he can get up and walk around.  40 minutes now go by, Grandpa has lost all patience, and doesn’t even want to pay for his dinner; he wants to just walk out.  45 minutes – Gramma is now done waiting.  We get up, and pay for our check and walk out.  As we are walking out the door, the waitress is bringing the 2nd plate of fish to the table and looks at us in disgust, with that ‘how rude’ look on her face.  My Grandmother, who is the most non-confrontational person in the world – says “we waited for an hour, and thought you forgot” and she turns and walked out the door!  I laughed so hard, because I never seen her that pissed off!   Mind you Including us, there was only 4 other tables occupied in this whole restaurant.

I was sitting at my famous Village Inn on Menaul and University and, I was there meeting with a journalist, and was there for a while.  After my meeting with the journalist, I thought I’d get started on another blog, since I had time before I had to go to my brother’s house.  My waitress, Kerry asked if I would like a re-fill of the ½ Ice Tea ½ Apple Juice concoction that I order.  I decline because the caffeine was going to make me launch thru the roof.  So, I asked for a glass of water.  Well, I imagine 5 minutes had gone by and Kerry comes by with my glass of water, profusely apologetic and admitting that she had forgotten about me. 

First of all, I didn’t even notice, I was so engrossed in what I was writing, and second of all, her admission that she forgot immediately disarmed me, and I told her no worries, that I wasn’t in any hurry.

My point is, we all make mistakes, even me.  Yes, I know, shocking, but yes, I admit, I am not perfect; contrary to popular opinion.  However, we customers know we’re not perfect, and we know you’re not perfect either.  You are more apt to us blowing off your mistake and carrying along with our lives than to try to cover it up and prompting a blog like this for the whole world to see.

When I worked for the Albuquerque Convention Center, I trained each and every one of my staff to come to me at the first sign of making a mistake.  I told them it is much easier to clean up a mess if they have my help; and I will be less apt to discipline them and more willing to help them correct their mistake than if I were to find out about the problem some other way.  (This was totally against SMG’s company policy and standard practice by the way, however, my office was secluded from the rest of administration and was able to get away with that stuff.)  My position with my employees was always completely honest and upfront from the beginning of each of their employment.  My standard line was: “Don’t put me in a position to write you up.”  The employees that worked for me that are still there today are there because they have headed that advice.  Today, they now run that department and do an Excellent Job doing it.  (Richard, Joe, Kelly).  Good Job guys!

Bottom line; Admit your mistakes, embrace your imperfection, train your employees to admit what they’ve done wrong.  It’s much smaller mess to clean up than one that is caused by trying to sweep a problem under the rug.  True transparency is very transparent.

Have a great Day!

Michael D. Chavez
CEO
Cherokee Street, LLC
www.CherokeeSt.com

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