I’ve struggled for several years how to start this blog site and how I have the answer.
During the summers I live and work in a small town in the Rocky Mountains northwest of Denver. Two years ago in June I adopted a female springer spaniel named Mia, from an online rescue organization. One of her behavioral challenges was extreme shyness. She also has separation anxiety and usually goes with me where ever I go. She is quite comfortable staying in my Ford Ranger pickup all on her own.
In my attempt to get her more comfortable around strangers and other dogs I started having coffee at an, indoor/outdoor café in town. Outdoor was necessary so that she could join me while I enjoyed my coffee and read. The following is a short description of our coffee time.
We arrive in town around 0900 and I park on Grand Avenue, next to the coffee shop. I tell Mia to stay and I go in and wait in line to get my “local” coffee. After adding sweet & Low and milk I move outside, locate a table and whistle for Mia to join me. Mia leaps out the passenger side window, jumps between the fence rails and joins me. Once she gets her required affection from me she starts searching for dropped bits of foods, gets a drink from the water pan provided then usually lays down beside me and naps. After a few visits she started approaching the other customers and letting them pet her. Occasionally she was even offered handouts, which encouraged her to make more friends.
The two books I read last summer were “Super Brain” and “Letters to my Son” but that is not the issue here… As I frequented the café I started to notice things that got in the way of many of the customers having a better experience. Here is a list of the ones I can still remember:
Long wait in line to place the order – two cash registers on counter but only one used.
No place outside to deposit waist (paper cups and plates) material.
Rock that is used to keep the door open is tripped over when door is in closed position.
Condiments table has cream/milk/sugar on it and no way to clean up spills available.
Syrup and plastic honey squeeze bottle frequently sticky and no way to wipe them off.
At time out of condiments and lids.
Tables outside not cleared of rain water from the night before.
Staff does not put up table umbrella until late in the morning or until asked to do so.
Wi-Fi down frequently.
Some staff no able to help with Wi-Fi problems.
When staff member asked to dry off a table they only wiped down that one only and left the others with rain water on them.
One of the easy sitting wood lawn chairs broken but still placed into service each day.
Empty coffee dispensers not changed out in a timely fashion.
Staff inconsistent in charging the same amount each day for same items.
Several inside pedestal tables needed stabilizing.
Two of the large hanging flower baskets on the front porch were placed in front of the two entrance doors. I noticed, on several occasions, customers who were returning for a coffee refill running into them. Me included and I knew they were there.
Toward the end of the season I over heard a customer asking one of the high school age staff if they were going to miss working there. The staff member answered “No, I’m tired of all the complaints.”
Over a week of visits I wrote down what I noticed on napkins then presented them to the owner and offered to answer any questions about my observations. She did not get back to me over the next few weeks and nothing changed. Eventually I too left for the season.
One thing I did learn before leaving was that the owner is a nurse and had never run a coffee shop before and this was her first season.
The point I’m really trying to make here is that I see things like this all the time. It’s as if I’m wired different than most folks. Sometimes it feels like a curse to see opportunities for improvement almost all of the time. I have learned that some people are very open to being informed about ways to improve their business while other are threatened.
I can pin point the exact event in my life when I began to see things different than I had prior to that time. If you are interested, click on “about” in the top menu.
For all you guys reading this blog, here is a bit of humor associated with “Becoming Aware.” … Now you know!