Growing up in Chicago, it seemed there was a locally owned eatery on every corner. Sure, we had our fair share of chain restaurants as well, but people were accustomed to something that was fresh and different from people following their own recipes.
Fast forward a few moves. Our current city is a great place to raise a family, but it is full of chain restaurants. We have struggled to find even locally-owned breakfast joints. So when a new place opened up on the river, just a little mom and pop shop serving ice cream and homemade sandwiches, we headed over.
Turns out, they’re great.
They’re also really slow.
A recent breakfast outing saw a rush of people come in, almost all of whom ordered a parmesan peppercorn breakfast sandwich. This is an amazing sandwich on a freshly baked biscuit with locally sourced sausage and cheese. However, the people ordering it think they’re just ordering a breakfast sandwich, which they can get at McDonald’s in less than 60 seconds.
So when they ordered what seemed to be a simple thing at what appears to be a deli and they waited more than 20 minutes, they began to get concerned. The inquiries I heard ranged from “Just checking on our sandwiches” to “Hey, I ordered some sandwiches, do you know what happened to them?“. I couldn’t help but wonder if some of this anxiety could have been alleviated byÂ briefing customers upfront on what to expect.
I’m not saying service couldn’t be faster; I wouldn’t mind that myself. But I am willing to wait when I know I’m going to get quality food. However, I didn’t know the first time I ordered there that the food would be worth the wait. It’s a big gamble, asking people to trust that you areÂ worth not just their money but their time. Not living up to customers’ expectations on those two points makes it hard to gain repeat customers no matter how delicious your local cheese and sausage are.
I think a lot of people’s expectations of the time it would take to get their food could be solved with some messaging. A place where you order at a counter is typically expected to have quicker service. Here, they offer to let you sit and bring your food to your table. A simple step added at this point could make all the difference in whether customers wait patiently or become concerned they’ve been forgotten. All they need to do is tell customers how long the food is expected to take. If pressed, they can explain the food is all homemade and worth the wait.
Of course, they can make some changes to theirÂ printed materialsÂ andÂ overall messaging. But transparency helps customers set their expectations of how an encounter with you will go. A simple communication may make the difference between gaining repeat customers and watching frustrated people walk out the door with aÂ negative impression of your brand.