Putting systems to work in your business doesn’t always have to cost money. There’s many things you can do to make your business run better, make more money, and be more profitable. All it takes is a little time and effort.
Once a week, when I can, I go out for breakfast. Lately, I’ve been going to a nearby small restaurant. The only reason I go there is because I can get a tasty meal at a good price. It’s not a particularly comfortable place to eat – hard wooden chairs, concrete floor, and minimal art on the wall. The service is poor. But I like the meal. That’s the only reason I go.
Sometimes I feel the meal is not enough justification and I will go elsewhere for more comfort. I am sure many others have come once and never been back.
Every time I visit, the place is almost empty. I’m not sure how it survives. It probably won’t. The sad thing is I know the owner could easily improve the business. All it takes is some systems.
Sampling of No Cost Systems
In the brief time I spend at this restaurant, I see many things that could be done to make it a better. Here are some quick, almost superficial things that could be done. It would not cost anything to implement these changes. The problem is, they aren’t being done. And they all add up to a poor customer experience.
Table Preparation System
- Make sure table AND seats are clean. (Don’t just brush crumbs off the table onto the seats)
- Clean and fill salt/pepper/sugar dispensers. (yucky dispensers are a turn-off)
- Utensils are clean – Make sure only clean knives, forks, and spoons are on the table. Don’t let the customer discover a dirty fork.
Dining Room Environment Systems
- Light levels – Breakfast eaters are often readers and need good lighting. Too often the lighting is too dim.
- Sound system levels – Breakfast crowds like to chat. Sometimes they are doing business over breakfast. Background music that’s too loud or inappropriate is annoying. Often music seems to be more for the workers than the customers.
- Room temperature – A cozy, comfortable room encourages people to return. Of course, this depends on the time of year, climate, and clientele.
Meal Serving System
- Serve hot meals on warm plates so food stays warm long enough for the customer to eat.
- Check back a few minutes after delivering a meal to see if everything is OK or if anything else is needed.
- Frequently check tables to top up coffee and drinks. I almost have to beg to get a second cup at this particular restaurant.
- Keep the paper and soap dispensers full.
- Keep the bathroom clean.
These systems don’t cost money to implement. It just takes a little effort. Effort on the part of the owner to put the systems in place and to ensure employees follow the systems. Effort on the part of employees to do their jobs.
Make Mine Hot
One day I did make a suggestion. The cook himself delivered my breakfast plate. Like each time before the plate was ice cold. I asked the cook if I could make a suggestion. I explained to him the problem with cold plates (food quickly cools off) and suggested serving breakfast on warm plates. The next time I was there my breakfast arrived on a warm plate, and has since.
The problem is that it’s up to the cook to remember to do this. It’s not part of a system. Another cook likely won’t do it. For all I know, the cook only does it when he sees that I am there. He doesn’t have a System View and neither does the owner. If they did, they’d welcome my suggestion, and incorporate it into their Meal Serving system – if they had one.
Put on your System View Glasses
Look at your business from the customer point of view. How many no cost things can you do to improve your business?
Be a customer at a business similar to yours. What are they doing (or not doing) that could be done better in your business. Create systems and make a permanent improvement.