Calling for service

Chris Dunham, PDT Sports Writer

March 20, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

This is the column I had vowed several years ago never to write. However, I am reversing my vow because it may help business owners and managers look closer at some of their employees and get them back on track.

Most places I do business with I find conscientious employees who are both competent and friendly. I have coffee at the same place every morning, and I go there because of the great friendly service. There is a restaurant where I eat frequently, and I love to go there because the employees take a personal interest in you and their sense of humor brightens your day.

I said all of that to say this: I have had several experiences lately that tell me there may be a trend toward substandard service.

For weeks I passed a restaurant with a sign that read - “Lg Hot Chocolate .99.” One morning I pulled in, checked to make sure the sign still read the same. It did. I ordered a large hot chocolate, and was charged $1.49. I often ate lunch there. I won’t anymore.

A while back I ordered a sandwich at another restaurant. The woman slid it along the counter and asked what I wanted on it. I said, “I want it toasted.” She slammed the sandwich, throwing all the cheese slices onto the paper. She didn’t put the cheese back on the sandwich. She put it in the oven, and when it came out the cheese was not on the sandwich, but was melted to the paper. She simply pulled the paper and cheese away from the sandwich, and then asked what I wanted on it. Again, I paid for the sandwich, walked away and will not go back.

I was at another place and there were six employees all standing in a corner speaking to one another. There was no one at the cash register. They talked and pointed, and among other things, were making fun of an elderly couple. Still, no one would come to the cash register. I finally asked if someone would take my order. The woman who came to the cash register was really perturbed that I interrupted them.

We have recently had two soft drink machines installed in our building. Within days of their installation, I put my money in. It took my money, then informed me as I pushed my selection, that it was sold out. Could I hit the coin return and get my money back? No. I pushed it and pushed it, and it did nothing. I finally found there was one selection remaining in the machine, and was relegated to that choice or lose my money.

Service is the centerpiece of any business. I hear people say mom and pop businesses can’t succeed. But I know of a couple of locally owned and operated restaurants that thrive. They do it because the people who own them are personable, and offer a friendly atmosphere to the customer. I get a feeling that we don’t teach people how a business really operates anymore. I don’t believe we train young people how to dress for a job interview, or the importance of showing up for work, being on time and offering personal service.

This has to change because so many things these days work against business owners. The tax code is impossible. The regulations tie the hands of business operators and then they have to deal with employees who don’t deal well with customers if they even show up for work. We are no longer an industrial nation. We have as our only option to be a service oriented nation. When that goes south, where do we go from there?

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com.