It’s not her fault

management Jul 28, 2020

Well, she can’t take all of the blame. 

Graham and I run/walk to a cafe every weekend for a breakfast date.  We have our favourites, the cafes we go back to over and over again and sometimes we are daring and try a new cafe. 

One morning we tried out a new cafe. We went to this particular cafe because it had a good reputation and it opened at 8 am on a Sunday. Yay for the win!

So we were dutifully waiting outside at 8 am ready and willing to try their breakfast delights.  The lights were on and there was a woman working behind the bar.  The main door to the cafe was blocked with a table; so it looked to us that the cafe wasn’t open yet.  So we didn’t check the door but waited patiently for her to be ready to open up.  It got to about 8:06 am and Graham started to wave at the person inside and she gestured that he should pull on the door handle.  Turns out it was open. Doh!

We went in and said, “oh, we thought you weren’t open yet because the table was blocking the entrance.”

She said, “no, we’re open. We open at 8 am. I just haven’t got around to moving the table yet.”

“Okay,” we said. 

I would say that waitressing was not this woman’s calling.  She went through the motions but there was no feeling of service or care in her approach.  

The thing that stands out with all of our favourite cafes is not just the food but that they provide really great service and we have developed a relationship with the staff; to the point that we are on first name bases in some places and they remember that we only drink tea (2 pots of English Breakfast, with milk on the side).

But I’m not sure if we went back to this cafe again today that this woman would remember our faces, let alone that we were the people standing outside waiting to be let in whilst she stood working behind the bar looking like she was ignoring us. 

Anyway - getting back on topic.  It’s not totally her fault that she provided poor service.  And if not, why not? 

Well, someone hired her to do this job.  So what were their expectations of her performance and how did they communicate that to her? Did she get adequate training, does she know what the cafe’s brand is and how they want to be perceived by their customers?  Was she a good fit for the job? 

I believe she has to take responsibility for the manner in which she reacted to the only customers she had at 8 am. She is working in a service industry; relationships and care matter.  And we don’t know what was going on for her this morning?  Was this a second job? Was she tired? Was she resentful because she had to work on a Sunday because she was covering someone’s shift? Does she feel valued and seen by her employer?  

Who knows.

But if I were the owner of the cafe I would be disappointed that they have lost a potential long term customer because the level of service was not up to scratch.  But that’s on them.  They get to set their expectations and they need to ensure that their people feel valued and seen so that they give their all even when they don’t feel like working and even when the boss is not watching. 

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