I’m up in Carmel, CA for a wedding and staying at the Carmel Valley Ranch. Great location, great resort, bad service.
A bartender that couldn’t have been less attentive to a group of 30 people (and didn’t know how to make some of the hotels signature drinks). A Michel Richard Citronelle restaurant where the food timing was so impacted by a group of 20 that we started before them and finished after them (although the food itself was fantastic). Internet service in the lobby that I had to pay $9.95 for (a first for me in all of my travels). Breakfast service where one entr?e came out five minutes before the other. It all left a bad taste in my mouth.
The most incredible location, the best views and the best food in the world can’t make up for bad service.
That’s not to say that all was bad. The bad experiences were nearly all tied to food service. And while the wait staff was congenial, they weren’t world-class. And then came Lana.
We met Lana by the pool on the first day. We didn’t order anything from her but she kept checking on us. The next morning at breakfast, she recognized us with a sunny “Hey you guys” and told us to grab a seat outside and she’d take care of us.
I’m a sucker for a warm smile, a big hello and a general joie de vivre. And those traits are so important that we use them as part of the job requirements for every position we’re looking to fill at a company I’m doing some work for.
Lana had all of those traits. And while the service wasn’t as good as I would have hoped, it was clear that it wasn’t Lana’s fault. The kitchen was responsible for the poor timing of the breakfast entrees. The fact that our coffee and water glasses weren’t always full was due to a lack of staff to handle the number of people dining (a problem the place seems to have at every meal).
The point is that a great personality is such a rare treat in the service industry today that it trumps everything that may not be up to snuff.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
One employee can have a halo effect on your entire operation.
When I leave the Carmel Valley Ranch, is my memory going to be about the resort, about the room, about Citronelle or about Lana?
I continue to pound on the fact that you need to hire the right people. It’s so important these days and it is the differentiator in retail, food service and every other service-oriented business.
Make today the day you’re going to do something about that employee that you get complaints about. Start the disciplinary process with a verbal warning. Create your own light at the end of the tunnel – the day that you’ll replace them by trading up to a higher quality employee. An employee who has more experience. An employee who has a warm smile, a big hello and a general joie de vivre.