Inconsistent Behavior

July 21st, 2011

During a recent business trip the airplane scheduled for our outbound flight was delayed by bad weather. After arriving at the airport 90 minutes before our 8:30 a.m. departure, we suddenly had two additional hours on our hands. The five of us decided to relax and enjoy a sit-down breakfast at one of the franchise restaurants in the terminal. Service: Good. Food: Fine. Value: Excellent. One of our party commented, “I’d come here again.”

Three days later upon arriving at the airport for the early morning return flight home, we again faced an extended wait. As luck would have it, the same restaurant was right next to our gate. We decided if it worked in once, we should eat there again. How did things turn out the second time? Service: Weak. Food: Poor. Value: Minimal.

Our waitress had an attitude and didn’t want to be there. Since the choices were limited, each of us ordered the exact same thing. These portions were smaller and taste was missing. When the bill arrived I took out the receipt from the first meal and discovered there was a $15 difference in the amount. Turned out some of the things that came ‘standard’ in Houston were ‘extra’ in Louisville. That same traveling companion said, “I’ll never eat at this restaurant again.”

Customers have expectations with a franchise that it will deliver the same experience every time. That’s why McDonald’s french fries and Baskin-Robbins ice cream taste the same wherever you are in the world. When a rogue franchisee fails to fulfill those promises, it affects the entire brand. I flew again a few weeks later, and – walking by the location here – thought, “Your Louisville buddy ruined it for you.”

The result is the same in your organization, even if you’re not a franchise. You set the bar on how I expect to be treated. Fail to live up to those lofty goals – whether it’s quality or service or value – and chances are you’ll lose me forever.

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