As we walked in we were greeted by Jacob. He made instant eye contact with us and delivered a big smile as he welcomed us into Famous Dave’s.
The rest of the evening was a pleasant mix of BBQ pulled pork, mashed potatoes and fun conversation with Jacob. We learned a little of the history of Famous Dave’s. And we learned about this local franchise of the famous BBQ and blues restaurant. It’s owned by one of the founders of Famous Dave’s (the other not-so-famous Dave, we learned). He actually spends more time wearing an apron than a suit as his favorite job was cooking BBQ and burgers for his customers.
Our new friend Jacob clearly enjoyed people and his job at Famous Dave’s. And he made an impact. If every employee in was as warm and genuinely helpful as he was, they’d never have to advertise. In fact, they’d have to get a bigger parking lot.
People like Jacob are golden for any business. They make being a customer easy. They also make it easy on managers and owners because they simply enjoy their work. They show up and give 100%.
As customers we’re always thrilled to have a server like Jacob, It makes the entire experience better and sets this restaurant head and shoulders above others.
But there is one problem.
There aren’t enough Jacobs to go around. And they’re hard to clone. In other words, while we all love to have employees like this, their presence alone does not make a sustainable or scalable business. Too often businesses get lucky or good at hiring people like Jacob. But they never develop beyond that capability. So, the experience they deliver to their customers is entirely dependent on finding and keeping these rare people.
It’s hard to grow a business that way. A better way is to develop an organizational ability to deliver the right experience to every customer, every time. In doing this, people like Jacob are useful, but not critical. Because the organization plans the experience it wants to deliver and develops the people, policies, products and processes to make it happen.
This is never easy. It’s a longer term project than hiring friendly people. It costs more too. It’s more complicated. It requires strategic thinking and a willingness to experience failures along the road to success. But in the end it’s much more likely to deliver a consistently amazing experience to more customers more times than relying on finding and keeping people-focused people.
We often get lucky enough to experience the amazing service delivered by people like Jacob. It’s always fun when this happens. But I’d prefer doing business with companies that understand how to give me the experience I want every time because it’s part of their DNA, because it’s weaved into their culture. That gives me more confidence in their ability to deliver what I want. That keeps me coming back.
How about your business? Do you have amazing service built into your culture?