Last Saturday, about 5:30 PM, on my way home from the Moultrie Swap Meet in South Georgia, it was time for dinner. Thinking about my choices, I decided to stop at Captain D's for my preferred choice, fish.
We'd eaten at Captain D's once before in Conyers, GA, not an enjoyable experience. I decided to give them one more chance.
Maybe I'm a little more observant than the average customer. It's not with a critical eye. I'm just aware of my surroundings.
I couldn't help noticing no one had a smile on their face. The fellow cleaning the dining room floor and customer serving trays must've had lead in his pants pockets! That's why I could see the pattern of his undershorts and why he was moving at a snail's pace.
I enjoyed my baked potato, far better for me than french fries. I took the hush puppies home to Donna Lee, my wife, who told me they were the best she's ever had.
For dessert, I decided on a Blizzard at the Dairy Queen just across the street. Everyone at the DQ seemed to be having fun, had a smile on their face. There was a glaring contrast in service between the two restaurants.
My Captain D's receipt asked for feedback. This was an easy one, just a phone call with questions. I made the call and answered the questions. The bottom of the receipt said, "I'd love to talk to you." I called Jen, she answered, we had a pleasant conversation.
As it turns out, Jen is the new regional manager. I told her about their great hush puppies, baked potato, the long faces, lead in the pockets, and speed, of service. Then, I told her about my experience at the DQ. She was eager to hear the details, asked follow-up questions for more information and said, "You're helping me get ready for my Monday morning manager's meeting. I'll take my managers across to the DQ and see if they make the observations you made."
What's the point? DQ doesn't pay any more than Captain D's. Both restaurants draw from the same labor pool, yet they have two entirely different cultures. Anyone who is the least bit observant would see this. This is a dramatic example of the difference leadership makes. The Dairy Queen has an exceptional, maybe inspiring, leader with high standards. Captain D's leadership has low expectations and standards. Culture is created from the top down, not from the bottom up.
Invite a friend to visit one of your jobsites, observe what's going on. See if they spot obvious opportunities for improvement. If they do, for goodness' sake, listen, ask follow-up questions. You may be amazed at what you learn.
Don't shoot the messenger!
—Larry W. Dennis, Sr. President Turbo Leadership Systems