Small Details (Issue 1142)

In which we are reminded to get the small details right, on brand and on purpose.

A group of us went out to dinner a couple of weeks ago – 6:30 pm, a Saturday night – to a popular restaurant that serves fresh takes on coastal Mediterranean dishes. The place was pretty busy. Anthony, our server, crisply dressed and wearing a dark brown, three-pocket bib apron embroidered with the restaurant’s logo and name, was cheerfully attentive and welcoming: “No rush,” he said, “stay as long as you like, I’m here for the evening.”

Our group sat and chatted for a while, then ordered appetizers (which came out deliciously quickly) and entrees (delivered with “just right” timing and hot, right out of the oven or pan). We split a dessert – two scoops of a made on-premises gelato with fresh ricotta and Mediterranean fig jam. Oh, my, I’d go back there just for that!

Two-and-a-half hours into the meal and conversation, we asked Anthony for our check. When he next came to the table, one of us noticed (and they were probably there all along) three white pens neatly clipped to the top of Anthony’s bib apron, on the left, just inside the neck strap.

“I like your pens,” he said. “Do they carry the restaurant logo?”

“Of course,” Anthony replied. “Would you like to take one?”

“No, thank you, and I’m glad to see you have those pens. It’s one of my pet peeves that, when I go to a nice restaurant or hotel, the servers are using pens from local plumbing distributors or worse. Completely off brand and so easy to fix.”

Just at that moment, the restaurant owner passed by the table. Anthony turned and, gesturing toward our companion, said, “He noticed our pens.”

Our friend repeated his pet peeve – plumbing distributor pens or worse in fine restaurants.

“You have a good eye for detail, “ replied the owner, smiling at our group. “I’d work for you any time.”

Reminds me of a long-ago sales call during which I used a pen manufactured by my prospect’s competitor. He noticed. Things didn’t go well at the end of the conversation. I wasn’t invited back.

Nick Miller trains banks and credit unions to attract and expand relationships with business clients through better skills, sales strategies, and execution. He is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.



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