Last week, there was a Teacher Work Day in our county. As the boys were home, Dad’s work plate was somewhat limited, so we all went out to lunch. Boys choice: Red Robin (say it with me: Reeeeeeeeed Robin, Yummmmmm). Ok, I digress.
When I entered Red Robin in Ashburn, Virginia at 1pm, I was caught off guard. Let’s just say that I was not the only Stay At Home Parent who had come up with this idea. The place was packed, and it quickly became apparent that perhaps the management at this location had not been aware that it was a school holiday, as I did not observe the number of employees that I would have expected to see on the floor for the volume of business. This, alone, gave me pause to consider some other options, but, as it was “Boys Choice Day”, I kept my thoughts to myself. I’m glad I did.
We were greeted and seated, and quickly visited by Ryan, our server. Ryan offered to get our drinks quickly, and apologized (albeit, unnecessarily) for the delay. Ryan admitted they were busier than usual, and a little short staffed. I suggested that perhaps it was because schools were out, and he looked me dead in the eye and said, “Exactly”. I told Ryan not to worry, and he thanked me and disappeared. About 30 seconds later, another server stopped by and asked if anybody had gotten our drink orders yet, and I acknowledged that I had. A few minutes later, a female server stopped by and said< “Are you guys ready to order? I’m going to help Ryan out and get your order, if that’s ok.”
Less than 10 minutes later, yet another person (this one appeared to be a manager, by the shirt she was wearing dropped off our food, no mistakes, perfectly prepared. Better service than I have experienced on a slow day at most other establishments. A few minutes later, Ryan passed by carrying a large tray of food, another server in tow, and paused to ask how our lunch was. I indicated that it was fine, but could use some more “Bottomless Fries” and a refill on my drink. Ryan said, sure, I’ll be back in just a second,”, and the server who was trailing him said, “Go ahead, Ryan, I’ll get that,”, and did.
What I exhibited last week was a team, probably overwhelmed, joining together for a common goal, the satisfaction of every single customer. There were many opportunities to blame the volume, the manager, and each other, but these avenues, frequently driven on by others, were never visited on this trip. The management and staff had dedicated to taking care of whatever needed to be done, there was no “territorialism” as is often featured with wait staff, and, clearly, the direction established by management, whether location or company driven, allowed for tremendous teamwork and camaraderie. I made it a point to speak to the Floor Manager, Matt (who admitted, AFTER the compliment I paid his team, that he had only just come on the floor), that they were doing a lot of things right, and were to be commended.
How much freedom do you give your team to get the job done. Can boundaries be broken? Do they have the freedom to do whatever it takes? How well do they communicate with each other? These factors, often overlooked in the light of more measurable items like food cost, labor and overtime, are the real factors that will encourage customers to return, and give rave reviews.
And yes, Matt, I did fill out the online survey.