Monday, April 14, 2014

Humanity is underrated, but it outperforms.

 A few years ago I was at Joe's Stone Crab on Miami Beach. A friend and I were sitting at the bar waiting for a table, as Joe's doesn't take reservations. So we chatted at the noisy bar and had a couple of drinks. 

  After a while the wait seemed to be a bit too long, even for Joe's which can be a little slow in getting around to seating you. Aside from a few serious Miami players, everybody waits, so it's just part of going there. That said, I decided to ask the maitre d' for an estimate of when our table would be ready. 

   Once I managed to break through the throngs of people I got the maitre d's attention and we located my name on the list. Upon which he informed me, "I called your name about ten minutes ago."  Having no reason to doubt him, I said, "Oh, well I guess I didn't hear you. Do we have to start over? What's the process?" While I didn't want to sit another ninety minutes, there was no point being pushy with someone who deals with pushy people in 15 second intervals.

   He looked at me for a second, and then said, "just stand over there" and motioned to the side of the vestibule. We did as instructed. Within seconds we were whisked away by "Bones" who is the a long-time fixture at Joe's. He took us to a nice table, handed us menus, thanked us and departed. The perusal of the menus began.

    Within a minute or two our waiter arrived and asked about our drink order. We asked for a couple glasses of white wine as well as some water. A few minutes later the waiter returned with a bottle of white wine. I mentioned we had just wanted a couple of glasses. He then explained that the wine had been sent to us by the maitre d. I was floored. I couldn't imagine why.

   After inquiring, Bones returned and explained, "We have people miss the call for their table all the time, and it ends up with an argument and them making a fuss. You were so calm and respectful, we just wanted to say thank you." Wow! It still floors me. What an impression.

   Here it is, over ten years later, with over thirty years of patronizing the restaurant and that's still my defining moment at Joe's. Many great dinners, and fun times, but that memory is right at the top of the heap. It's the reason I still go there every time I am back in Miami, and will continue to do so. 

   The point is that a single gesture, made with such humanity, has incredible power. Joe's is a Miami Beach institution. If I stopped visiting, I don't think there would be a noticeable difference in their revenues. But it is because they have that humanity that the restaurant continues to be "the place" to for anniversaries and birthdays in Miami. Your customers aren't units, they're people. When you relate to them as people, that makes a pretty huge impact. 

  When you're planning for success, don't forget the simple premise that people matter greatly. In fact, they probably matter much more than many more "sexy" ideas. 

   Humanity is underrated, but it outperforms.

1 comment:

  1. I like the word that people matter much more than many more "sexy" ideas,the feeling is a lovely word...Tim...:-)