Deliver what you promise
Delivering in the COVID-era
Curbside pickup is a learning curve and a lesson in patience.
I recently visited a charming New England town where I’ve enjoyed dozens of vacations. It’s a popular oceanside area surrounded by quiet little neighborhoods whose streets dead-end at the beach.
The locals and vacationers alike frequent several small popular local restaurants, and I was eager to sample a couple of my favorites again.
At both restaurants, I ran into the same sales-prevention issues. First, try to find what their actual open hours are. Now, that was a real lesson in frustration. Do I believe what their answering message says? Or maybe their (clearly outdated) website? Or how about their Facebook page? Finally I drive to the actual restaurant, hoping to find a sign on their door. Nope.
Finally I hit pay dirt at restaurant #1. A real live person answers the phone and I place my order. She tells me it will be ready in 20-40 minutes.
Ok fine whatever. I head on over to the restaurant at the 20 minute mark so my fresh order will be piping hot.
No joy. No order. She says I’ll get a text when my order is ready. As I head out the door to wait I get a text. Ah ha! My order must be ready so I walk back inside.
Instead I’m told she just ‘closed out my order’ and the text I received meant my order is accepted. Wait…accepted? What??
Again, I head outside to wait. And I wait. Thirty (30!) more minutes goes by and finally someone comes out with my order. No apology, no enjoy your meal — just here’s your bag.
Ugh. I was very disappointed with the experience, needless to say. The food was good but not good enough to go through that less than stellar experience again.
So I think to myself, I’ll try a restaurant #2 tomorrow.
The next afternoon, I’m ready. I call my second restaurant of choice and get an answering message which, after stating their (wrong) hours, says “If you’re hearing this message we are either on the phone or closed so please call back,” then it disconnects.
So I dial and redial… and redial until I get a real live person who takes my order and says it will be ready in 20 minutes.
(Remember that Albert Einstein quote about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Yes, that was me.) Crazy or intrepid, it’s all about perspective.
I head on over to restaurant #2 at the 20 minute mark only to be told my order wasn’t ready. Arrgghh. I stand off to the side and wait. After 50 minutes, I sigh and ask the outside hostess if she could please check on my order. She does and immediately returns with my order. Wonder how long it was sitting there? Let’s just say my pulled pork was ice cold.
All whining aside, this is a HUGE lesson for small businesses who are trying to figure out how to survive in the COVID era.
Customers expect you to tell them what you will do and then they expect you to deliver.
It’s no different than it was prior to the COVID era.
Your business must be congruent throughout. The business face you show to the public has to match the business processes that keep your business humming.
Or you will lose that business, plain and simple. I will likely never go back to either restaurant.
There are no excuses. If you say you’ll deliver, you must deliver.
The lesson is this: only say you’ll deliver what you know you can deliver consistently.
You can always deliver more.
Delivering less is unacceptable and customers are not forgiving for long.