Monday, January 07, 2013

First Impressions... and Second Ones, too

Word came out today of a restaurant closing that we enjoyed going to. I'm sorry to learn of this, but it reminds me what a tremendous impact can be made on people from one bad experience.

This place became somewhat regionally famous for a few years and when visiting friends who lived in the area we would go. The food was good, and that's what kept us coming back. The atmosphere was okay but nothing spectacular and the service was the same.

Then one Sunday we decided to make the thirty minute drive over for lunch. We arrived to find a buffet of food that was nothing like what we'd previously had. It was barely edible, and the quality of a chain steak buffet place, if that. I don't frequent those places because I look at the buffet and think, "There are 400 things here, but nothing I want to eat." This was much the same, only without the selection. We all left hungry and paid about 1.5 times what we would have paid at a chain place. So, less selection and less quality, but more money.

And, the worst part of it was, our expectations had been dashed. We were expecting good food during the entire drive. We were preparing ourselves for something delicious. That wasn't what we found. We never went back. 

Was that fickle? Yes, absolutely. The public is fickle. If we'd had stellar service every time we'd been there would have been another draw. If the atmosphere was stunning we might have wanted to go back for that. But if the food is the thing and it's suddenly not good, there's no reason to go back.

Obviously, our very occasional visits of 3-4 people a few times a year, were not significantly affecting their bottom line. But, if that experience were repeated with dozens and dozens of people over many years, it would add up to a negative impact.

Everyone has a bad day, and goodness knows I've been the recipient of much grace from many people over the years. But this is a good reminder of how important it is to give people a great experience in every interaction with you.

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