I picked up a client at a nearby hotel and he offered to treat us to a couple of lattés at Dunkin Donuts on the way to my house. When we reached the window, the woman handed me the two cups.
“Can I have a tray, please?” I asked.
“No, we’re all out,” she said.
“Well, why don’t you tell us that when we order? What if I were alone or needed four coffees?”
“I guess we’d find a box for you,” she said, never apologizing. What’s happening here is that the franchise owner in East Greenwich doesn’t want to drive business away and is too lazy or cheap to find trays at sister stores, which are within two miles. The employee wouldn’t kid about it, didn’t apologize, and I was wondering why I was there.
Last night, my wife and I stopped in another chain, P.F. Chang’s, in the Providence Mall. We were seated in a booth although we had no reservation (and the place soon filled), were offered drinks within a minute, and the staff took pains to explain the menu options and suggest choices based on our preferences. The food was hot, great, and on time. The manager stopped over twice—the first time to make sure we were happy, and the second time to offer to buy dessert for us, as our welcome to his restaurant. He gave me his card and said that if I ever wanted to take people to lunch or dinner, which are generally packed, he’d get me in, no worries, just call his number.
Leadership is everything. It informs employee behavior, for better or worse. At Dunkin it’s a crap shoot. Some people are terrific, some act as though you’re disturbing them, and that’s because the owner doesn’t set a tone or example, but leaves things to chance. That’s why I often go to Main Street Café and not Dunkin. But for Chinese food, I’m going back to P.F. Chang’s.
Postscript: I bought my wife a new iPhone for Valentine’s day, following her new laptop for Christmas. I’m a very good customer of the Apple store in that same Providence mall. But for the first time, we had mediocre service. The woman checking people in at the door was busy chatting up her boyfriend, and when someone finally showed up to help us and I told him it was a long wait, instead of saying, “Sorry about that, let me help you now,” his response was, “What can you do, we’re busy.”
I’m guessing he used to work in Dunkin Donuts. And I’m guessing the manager there isn’t going to last too long.
© Alan Weiss 2012. All rights reserved.