Restauant Impossible

Service: Highly Variable

restaurant service

From the N & O restaurant critic:

“Depending on the luck of the draw, service can be very good. Or you can get the short straw in the form of a server who exhibits all the liveliness and charm of a zombie.”

The review of this restaurant was 3 stars out of 5….with service as: highly variable.  So not a complete “Restaurant Impossible” (as portrayed on TV).  From the article description…..a significant investment in the location and decor (a two-level dining room….stone walls….yards of purple neon).

It’s always  a puzzle why restauranteurs can not invest in the service to complement the food and facility or perhaps it’s not…. as the life span of restaurants is fairly short.

It’s the food, surroundings and service that make a good restaurant and a successful business. It is the same for any business that skimps on one or another.

In the case of this restaurant, if there is no improvement in service….it won’t be long when the next announcement is – ” restaurant closed”.

Smith and Hawken

Garden Spade


Paul Hawken started Smith and Hawken (S&H) in the 1970’s….one of the first mail order businesses with quality products….extraordinary customer service….and engaged people.

This is a S & H spade shovel that I purchased several years ago….it was forged in England and is almost indestructible.

Paul Hawken was a visionary on how companies should be structured to meet customer expectations….as well as selling quality and affordable products. Two of his best books were: The Next Economy and Growing a Business.

The Smith and Hawken brand was purchaesd by Target in 2010.  I would bet that a Target S & H shovel wouldn’t be a match to my orginal S & H garden spade.

50 Years



In 1963, I insured my 1957 VW with USAA. I believe Dan, my apartment mate suggested it. At that time, USAA was relatively small….700,000 members. Today, USAA has 9.4M members and is recognized as a very successful company.

So in the mail….a new “Half Century” decal. Over these 50 years….USAA has evolved….though its basic principles have stayed the same. Branching out into a wide array of financial services….opening up membership to family members…. enlisted and prior service members. 

United Services Automobile Association is a highly respected company and a solid business model.


Best Business


My favorite book on creativity? Easy! George Whalin, Retail Superstars: Inside the 25 Best Independent Stores in America. Try it! – Tom Peters

Retail Superstars portrays 25 “Best Independent Businesses in the U.S.”

That is just the tip of the iceberg….every locale has their own Superstars. The goal for any business…. retail or otherwise is to be a creative Superstar.


Change Again


Some businesses/organizations stay the same and continue to be successful….in fact, customers don’t want then to change.

Reset follows on from our Fresh post (06.13.13).

Other organizations need to reset/renew continuously. A recent endeavor commenced last November (2012). There were well-though out ideas….well-executed….yet eight months later….it’s necessary to reset. Some things just didn’t work out as expected.

The ability to reset is a vital pat of the values of a business/organization. If not….a great idea….may fail….due to the inability to revitalize the product or purpose.

Customer Care

Sofa Repair

Sofa Repair

From WRAL:

The above article dealt with the response by Thomasville Furniture to repair a torn back panel of a $3000 sofa. It does appear that tear was caused by some object….whatever doesn’t matter. For most good furniture stores this is a simple repair….the panel is removed….and a new one stapled into place.

My Comments:

She called the furniture store and a manager asked her to send pictures to Thomasville Furniture’s corporate office.

A good furniture store would solve the problem. There is no need to send a photo to the corporate office.

Nearly four weeks later, a repair tech visited Gracely’s home and determined that the sofa needed a new fabric panel.

A store representative/repair tech should have visited the customer within 3 days.

“I think it’s high-quality furniture. What I’ve been disappointed in is the customer service,” she said. “I feel like I’m just getting the runaround.”

The company’s operations manager, Steve Willard, blamed the delays on “too many orders for workers to process.” He added that “other customers were waiting longer.”

No excuses: If there are too many orders….bring on some more people. Other customers waiting longer has no meaning to a customer that made a $3000 purchase.

Unfortunately, some businesses continue to do what they always have done. One torn back panel may be just an annoyance for Thomasville….it is not for the customer.


Brand Control


From Tom Peters:

“Has TEDx lost brand control? Close friend regaled me with tale of poorly organized, directionless TEDx event he recently attended in NYC.”

From :

Created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading,” the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis

I have never been to a TEDx event….though I do have the TED app on my iPad. In general, the TED events are short presentations by different speakers on current subjects. Some of the speakers well-known….others not. For most good speakers….it’s fairly easy to make a solid presentation on a subject even though you may not be the expert.

Two thoughts:

  • Brand control: I have not seen that term used….though I suspect it means a business/organization is on top of how its product (brand) is used….positioned….and managed in the marketplace. In the case of Tom Peters comment….perhaps the TEDx events have lost their focus.
  • Any business/organization needs to stay fresh….always evolving. While some businesses can continue to stay the same and be successful….others must be constantly changing. I indicated before in our family business….we were always changing something….whether a fresh coat of paint or new styles/fabrics. We even tried water beds….not for long, however!

Being fresh keeps the customer interested and keeps the business/organization interesting.