I am in mourning.
My all-time favorite breakfast restaurant, which had both outstanding customer service and outstanding food, has closed its doors. Owens Restaurants, a chain with nine Texas locations went out of business as of two weeks ago. According to reports on bizjournal.com the parent company, Bob Evans Farms Inc., said it was spending too much money on advertising and did not generate enough receipts. As a long-time customer going back to 1988 I can tell you the food was consistently high in quality and the legendary service would have made Sam Walton proud.
So, what was it that caused a lack of business? Ironically, in a post on January 30, I wrote about their missed opportunity when it came to marketing. I was commenting on the opportunity they missed by not using their marquee to its fullest potential. That could be indicative of their lack of marketing expertise. They offered a quality product with quality service, but they didn´t stand out from their competition. Perhaps they needed one of Seth Godin’s famous purple cows.
I wonder how much feedback they were getting from their customers. There was no way to contact their corporate office via their Web site and they seemed to rely on the traditional comment cards placed in their restaurants.
Were people less inclined to eat there because of the menu selection? Price? Location?
Their corporate management may have been plagued by a lack of vision or perhaps they are just incompetent.
Whatever the reasons, they couldn´t compete and their loyal (former) employees are suffering because of it. Not to mention their shareholders, as bizjournal.com reports same-store sales in their other restaurants declined in December.
It saddens me that a restaurant chain that delivered exceptional food and service is gone while others who are much less customer focused are still in business. Thinking back to something as inconsequential as a marquee in front of a business, never let an opportunity pass you by. Make sure your Web site is current. Don´t just rely on one way to get feedback from your customers, use a variety.
Someone was holding their servers accountable for customer service. Perhaps their senior management and/or their marketing department should be held accountable as well.
“There will come a time when you think everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” – Louis L’Amour