#TBT: Good Service Is (Nearly) Free

Happy #TBT. To celebrate, we’re sharing an oldie-but-goodie post from Jim: Good Service Is (Nearly) Free

Good service is, essentially, free, but you have to have the will to provide it.

Here’s a thing I did way, way back a number of years ago that illustrates that.

Showtime isn't just on the stage. It's in the lobby too.

Showtime isn’t just on the stage. It’s in the lobby too.

I worked for a company called Noah’s Bagels here in California. It was (and is) a high-end bagel place mostly located in nice neighborhoods around the state’s big cities (and in WA and OR, too).

We had a consistent problem in many of the stores where at rush times, mostly the mornings and lunch, people were waiting too long. After some digging, it became obvious that it was because the staff at those times was not fully focused on serving customers and was doing some prep and other kinds of work that could be done outside of rush hours.

So I came up with a program called “Showtime.” All it was, really, was that the manager would designate “Showtime” hours in the morning and at lunch, and all employees would work in the front from the start to the finish of those periods of time. They organized the prep around those peaks so that none was necessary during the peak times.

Finally, we made it a little bit fun. We created special “alternate” nametags with “Showtime” themes that the employees would switch to during “Showtime,” and just before the start of “Showtime,” the manager would have a very brief (2 minutes or less) meeting with everybody right there behind the counter to give them any product news, info or whatever might have been happening that day, but also to announce that Showtime was starting.

It really cost virtually nothing, but it made a big impact. More people got energetic, focused service and the employees felt they were doing something important by making a special effort.

Funny that it was called “Showtime.” Maybe I was destined to be in this business (live entertainment) even when I wasn’t …

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