My wife’s birthday was this weekend, so as a last bit of her gift, our youngest son and I took her to one of her favorite restaurants in the Valley.
As we sat down and caught up on junior’s just-finished semester at Pacific, the “so, what are you gonna order” discussion starts.
My wife has a favorite entree there – and to my knowledge has never ordered anything else in our many visits to this place over a period of roughly 5 years.
But this time, she asks for something else.
Turns out that the last time we visited, she ordered this item and the creamy sauce was more watery than creamy and just “didn’t seem like it used to”.
My son likes that dish as well, so he ordered it anyway.
Most of my son’s jobs have been in the fine dining and/or catering business and the chefs he’s worked for are a couple of the finest we have to offer in our area.
His dish arrives and sure enough, he notices things that would have never flown at his employers’ restaurants.
Chipped plates, for example. His arrives with a small handful of chips around the edges of the plate. Both mine and my wife’s have them as well.
He tells us that someone with pride in their work would never serve these entrees on chipped plates (this is a restaurant with entrees from $14-29).
He also notices that the sauce is thinner than usual and not seasoned as it was in the past.
“Something’s changed here”, he notes. “Do they have a new owner?”
I’m not sure of the timeframe but I do recall a change of ownership sometime in the past.
While that may or may not be the instigation of the change in entree quality of this place’s signature dish, it doesn’t really matter because it reflects on the owner, the manager and the head chef.
The chipped plates are a symptom of “Oh, that’s good enough”.
Would you sell your business’ reputation gets sold for the price of a $6 dinner plate? Or .08 worth of garlic, a little black pepper and 4 more minutes on the burner?
How about one less restroom check per day? Or a 25 cents worth of Pine Sol in the mop water?
It happens every day. Don’t let it happen to your business. Don’t teach “good enough” to your employees.
Every little thing sends a message. If nothing else, this is high-value marketing with a low price.
Doing it wrong gives it a high cost and delivers the wrong thing – reputation damage that’s hard to get back.