What do you notice as you look at the photo that accompanies this article?
Do you see the two customers sitting in the corner? And the three staff members mopping the floor and putting chairs on top of tables; how do you think this makes the customers feel?
Maybe if it’s 20 minutes past closing time there is a reason for letting the customers know you have to get the cleaning underway. But it’s not, I checked my watch, its 20 minutes before closing time!
When people order a coffee at a café they aren’t just buying the drink, they are paying for the experience, the ambiance, the outing. The same two people could meet at their home and at a far cheaper price have coffee and a cake together.
I doubt if these customers will meet up at this café again in the afternoon. But it isn’t just about them, is it?
This café is next door to a busy supermarket. People march past with their trolleys, organising their children and checking their shopping lists. They aren’t consciously noticing the unwelcoming atmosphere in the café. Yet their unconscious mind takes it all in and registers in their brain that this café is not the type of place to frequent in the afternoon.
The staff aren’t to blame for this, they are all working hard. It is a management problem. There must be operational guidelines on issues like stacking tables and mopping floors. And these guidelines should clearly state that the customer has the right to enjoy their refreshments in a relaxed atmosphere during the official opening hours – which means that these tasks should be completed outside official opening hours and staff be allocated additional paid time to do this.
Management must make it clear to all staff that their purpose in being there is to make each customer feel welcome. As I mentioned in a recent article, the objective of every one of your team is to have your customers saying, “From the time I arrive until the moment I leave, I feel that everyone in the place is grateful that I came in ... and that it matters to them what sort of experience I have.”