If Your Frontline’s Lousy, Your Business is Lousy


I’m spending this week working in St. Louis.

I’m with three of my colleagues.  We went out to dinner tonight at a restaurant none of us had been to before.

The food was fine.  Pretty good, in fact.

The ambience was great.  Hardwood table, clean lines, open space.

The service was terrible.

The waitress couldn’t be bothered with us.

Toward the end of the meal, the owner came over to our table and asked us how everything was.

Do you really want to know?

Yes, he answered.

To be honest, our server was awful.  She just didn’t get service.  She wasn’t listening.  She didn’t pay attention.  She didn’t care.

His response?

I know.

You know?

Yes, she’s been here two weeks, and I’ve wanted to cut her loose, but I haven’t been able to find anyone to replace her.  

I don’t know if you all run your own business, but finding good people is extremely hard.  I go through 100 resumes for each server position, and they’re still no good.

I get that he’s in a tight spot, but remember…we’re still the customers here.

There was still time to recover from the poor service.

He’s part of the service team.

As the owner, he can pull strings to make things better.

There was no apology.

There was no sense of “let me make things right”.

Instead, at the end, he said,

Here’s my card.  Next time you come in, call me or text me.  I’ll make sure to take care of you.

I’m sorry to say, but there’s not going to be a next time.

As the leader, you’re accountable for the results of your people.

Don’t blame your people’s poor performance for when things don’t go right for your customer.

Frankly, we don’t care.

It’s not our problem to solve.

As the leader, there is no “them” to point fingers at and blame.

There’s only us.

Who’s on your team?  How are they interacting with your customer?



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