Customer service has always been my big thing — I have often said I'm on a one-woman mission to improve customer service.
Recently a supplier who normally leaves our order on the doorstep at 6.30am decided to change all its delivery routes without consulting customers. We didn't get our order until 11.30am — that was after four phone calls to find out where it was and repeated reassurances that it would be with us shortly.
Not one call was returned as promised and we were left with one hour to do an entire morning's prep before a bride and groom appeared for their wedding breakfast.
The list of suppliers who let us down in some way shape or form, is sadly growing.
We've had shortages on orders without warning; wildly fluctuating prices, again without warning; orders just dumped in the storeroom without coming to find anyone for a signature; rude delivery men who barge through a full dining room, boxes in hand. The last delivery man to do that was met with a polite request to "please leave that outside, I will be right with you."
His response was: "Do you want your effing order or don't you?" — he looked more than astonished when I told him: "No, I don't, put it all back on your wagon and take it back".
Don't get me wrong; some of our suppliers are wonderful, but these days they are few and far between. It is a shame that with everything else we have to battle, I have to wage a daily war just to receive communication and common courtesy.
It's not just suppliers; we as licensees and restaurateurs are in the front line of my little battle. While some of us get it right, there are, sadly, many more who don't.
In the past few weeks, as a customer in other establishments, I have been ignored while staff finish their conversations.
I have had doors left to slam in my face because a staff member couldn't be bothered to hold it open for me or let me go through first. I have been virtually mowed down in a car park as the staff member was in such a hurry to get out. I've had food served on dirty plates. I've had complaints ignored and I have been treated with complete indifference.
I'm not saying it's easy to keep the smile in place all day, every day, and some members of the general public are a lot easier to look after than others. But we didn't sign up because it was easy.
So come on people, let's remember why we're doing this. Remind your staff they represent you and your business at all times when they wear your uniform, and for God's sake smile (it's infectious!). If people are looked after by a happy, smiling face, they become an awful lot easier to look after. Try it!