by tom on April 4th, 2011
Yesterday my wife Nancy and I were on having a meal at the local Cracker Barrel restaurant. We would probably be considered regular patrons, even at a once-a-month pattern, and it’s always interesting to us to notice those men and ladies who provide the food service… it’s hard work and certainly not richly rewarding. We are mostly curious about young people who are usually waiting tables and working their way through school. On this occasion at Cracker Barrel we noticed that our waitress had three stars on her apron and that there was one other server waiting from other tables who had four stars. It was interesting to me even that the symbols existed on their aprons for an acknowledgment for some aspect of tenure perhaps. I neglected to ask Peggy, our three-star waitress, what the stars symbolized but I did ask if she and four-star Rosemary were the more senior staff members. You just notice dedication in a tough business. We have never seen the same manager there twice in over a year. We asked Peggy about how long she had been there and she mentioned one year but went on to mention her experience in the food service industry that included 18 years at the restaurant called San Francisco Steakhouse. From there she had moved to another restaurant which she had left because of the extended commute from her home in the suburbs to this the downtown eatery. Her reason for changing and moving to Cracker Barrel was a result of her husband’s appeal that she not be driving late at night after closing up …clearly an expression of love and caring from him. It was apparent that our interest in her dedication to her craft was quite significant to her … you could see it in her demeanor and in her eyes. When we were finished she said “I have really enjoyed visiting with you all”. The point of this story is that the power of notice, the power of the attention from customers and company leadership is essential in sustaining commitment to any craft.
And to their credit, the company attracts people who care that the mission is “to please people. Nothing more. Nothing less. If everyone who works with us or whom we do business with is treated fairly and with respect.
If we do all those things, well, then we figure the business will take care of itself. And fortunately, so far, it has”.