O’Charleys is a restaurant chain based out of Nashville TN that I used to do a lot of work for. In years gone by they had franchise holders and one of them owned a store on University Drive in Huntsville not far from SE’s headquarters. And it is this store where this story began.
My wife had been a server at O’C’s for a while and I had worked on probably over a hundred of their stores by then. We were very familiar with the standards that were supposed to be in place for service and hygiene. At that time they had the best Prime Rib you could buy and so we decided to go to this store for a meal.
Well we get in there and sit and wait. For quite a long time actually before the waitress could be bothered to approach us. In the mean time I go to the restroom and come back out with a bit of disgust as I tell my wife what a foul smelly cheap bar place it was. Still no yeast rolls and these were supposed to be quickly presented according to corporate policy. None was ready it seems and so the waitress could not bring them out until after we had our salads. Big no-no and the server attitude was lackadaisical at best as she was more interested in talking to friends than customers.
I came back to the Commissary operations for O’Charleys which was in Nashville and my biggest customer at that time and told some of the people there how awful the meal was. Their comments to me were “did you tell Wayne (franchise holder who also had an office there) about this? I was a little hesitant to do so but they prevailed upon me and I did so. Talked to Wayne about it and described from beginning to end what I saw and experienced there. Wayne did not have much of a response and I left his office.
A few weeks later I ran across him and asked him about the store and this is what he said. He went down there and walked in unannounced for a surprise little visit and it was every bit as bad as I said it was. He spent some days there getting things fixed up again and firing the managers that had allowed this to happen. I asked him how this situation had occured when the store was just a two-hour drive away from the offices in Nashville and easily checked on.
Wayne went on to tell me that the numbers from the store were decent and based solely upon this there was no reason for him to go there. He had six other stores so I guess he would concentrate on the worst one only. I don’t remember asking him about this so I can only conjecture.
Some time later I asked Wayne about that stores numbers and he said that after his surprise visit and ensuing cleanup and management purge there was a pronounced uptick in sales.
The moral to this story is that numbers only do not tell the complete story. Here we have Solid Edge whose numbers are decent and sales are going up in spite of how the help is presenting the “food”. They should be and could be much better is my belief.
It is not just the basic quality of the food you sell but it’s appearance and presentation too. You can have great food and spend lots of time sending out select aged prime rib from the commissary but if the people “selling” it in the store don’t do their job it will never matter how good the commissary’s beef is.