Holidays

This Year

2017 was terrific. It was difficult and sometimes frustrating, but overall I am proud of what I accomplished compared with what I had set out to do. (2017 was also terrific from a global perspective, according to the folks at Future Crunch.)

As for 2018 goals and resolutions? Google reports 5.7 million articles about how to keep your resolutions, so I don't want to write that type of post - everybody else already has.

I want to take a minute to talk about the things we can all do, every one of us, every day - which will make everybody's lives better. (and yes, they'll ultimately help you make more money, too.) Ready or not, 2018 is here, and we're already going full speed!

image credit - flickr dave_s

 

Here are 15 ways to make this year even better:

  1. If you make a promise, set a date. No date, no promise.
  2. If you set a date, meet it.
  3. If you can't make a date, communicate. It's easier to adjust if we know what's happening.
  4. Clean up your own mess.
  5. Clean up other people's messes.
  6. Overcommunicate.
  7. Question a company's agenda. (that includes media companies too.)
  8. Don't question goodwill, effort or intent. Be appreciative.
  9. "I'll know it when I see it," is not a good enough description. Let people know what you want, then let them get to work on it.
  10. If what you're working on right now doesn't matter to the mission, help someone else with their work. (or work on something more important.)
  11. Make mistakes, own them, fix them, share the learning.
  12. Cheap, reliable, public software might be boring, but it's usually better. Because it's cheap and reliable.
  13. Care more.
  14. Always be seeking outside resources. A better rolodex is better, even if we don't have rolodexes any more.
  15. Talk to everyone as if they were your boss, your customer, the founder, your employee. It's all the same.

It seems like a long list, but it's really simple. Be good. Do good. Expect & demand good from others. The good will snowball to more good..

(hat tip to Seth Godin, who published most of this list previously.)

Happy 2018 Everybody!

- Chris Butterworth

Giving Thanks, and Leftovers

Thanksgiving weekend. It's the start of the holiday season - not just the relentless shopping and sales frenzies, but also the time to reflect, to celebrate family and friends, and to give to those in need.

image credit - flickr nik stanbridge

 

There are a million charitable causes out there, but as we sit here in this weekend of gluttonous dinners and enough leftovers to feed the entire extended family (twice!), I wanted to point out some organizations that do an amazing job of getting leftovers to those who need food to eat.

Most restaurants throw away 50,000 lbs of food per year

-Business Insider: solving food
waste in america's restaurants

Each of the organizations listed below started out as an idea - a single person who thought it was crazy that restaurants would throw away food while others in the same area were starving. They started with a single car and a lot of passion, and have grown from there. Together they now serve tens of thousands of meals per week (and growing.)

Waste Not (Phoenix)
We Don't Waste (Denver)
Food Runners (San Francisco)
City Harvest (New York)
Food Life Line (Seattle)

I'm sure there are others in other cities - my goals wasn't to create an exhaustive list, rather to highlight these types of organizations.

I hope you are able to contribute to those in need this holiday season, regardless of which type of organization that might be.

But if you're looking for a gift that might continue to keep on giving, please consider helping one of these food redistribution organizations.

And if you run a restaurant, I hope you'll consider doing something more productive with your unused food than throwing it away. You can google the 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act if you have any concerns about liability.

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody.

- Chris Butterworth

 

 

 

bye bye, Babbo!

Happy Valentine's Day! (well, that's how it was supposed to go, right?)

Last week, we ordered take-out at Babbo. Our Valentine's Day plan was to pick up dinner and bring it home for a family "dinner and a movie" night. Unfortunately, well, you know what they say about the best laid plans...

Instead of flawless execution, I witnessed some of the worst customer service you could imagine. It wasn't just "we aren't going to help you"; it was more like "we have too many customers and would be happier if you weren't here." Not only was the restaurant too busy, but their reaction to being overwhelmed was anti-service. Suffice it to say 

we won't be going back to Babbo anytime soon.

 

Babbo is a local Italian restaurant - the food is good and it's near our house, so it's one of the restaurants that comes up when we have our family's "where should we eat" discussion. Last week, however, things didn't go so smoothly..

Here's the play-by-play of what happened:

  • We ordered by phone, and we told our food would be ready at 6:45. OK, perfect. We'll start the movie at 7, have a relaxing night, and the boys can still be in bed by 9. (After all, it's Valentine's Day, but it's still a school night.)
  • We arrived at the restaurant at 6:40, and see the place is packed. They are set up so that call-in orders go back to the bar to pay for their food, and then wait in that area until the food is ready. When we arrive, the line extends from the bar all the way through the restaurant to the front door.
  • We wait in line for a few minutes, standing next to tables where people are trying to have their romantic dinner. Most of the people in line are friendly and make small talk while we wait.
  • At 6:48 we pay for our food, and are told our food is almost ready. We move off to the side, trying to stay out of the way, but it's pretty crowded. There is a large group of people waiting, standing among the tables of people eating dinner.
  • At 7:00 I catch the cashier's eye and ask her to check on our food. She does, and tells me it's almost ready. Hmmm. The crowd continues to grow, becoming more of a mosh pit, and the jovial mood is being replaced by frustration as people begin to lose patience.
  • 7:10, and I ask one of my boys to go check on the food. He reports back and says they are only waiting for one more thing, and then we'll be ready. I wonder (out loud) about the rest of our food sitting there getting cold while we wait, and hear groans of agreement from those standing near us.
  • At 7:25 a server brings us our bag of food. I ask her if everything has been sitting there getting cold, or if they re-did any of the meals. She has a "deer in the headlights" look, and I didn't want to come down on a high school girl just doing her job, so I asked for the manager.
  • When the manager came over, I gave her the short story - 40 minutes late, food is probably cold.. She takes everything out of the bag and reports one dish is hot, one is warm, and two are cold, and then offers to reheat them (with voice, eyes, and body language that said "please say no.")
  • I laid into her for 30 seconds about how the way they were treating all these people was unacceptable, and then headed home. I could hear others begin raising their voices as we neared the exit.

Here are some things that did not happen, at all:

  • No Acknowledgement of any problems.
  • No Apologies to anyone standing around waiting for their late food, or to those trying to eat at a table surrounded by people standing, waiting, and complaining.
  • No Comfort given, whether by finding a more spacious waiting area, or by offering a drink while we waited.
  • No Discounts, coupons, or other offers to compensate, whether on this particular order or for the next time somebody visits.

Here is what would have made a difference:

  • Ideally, they would have expected a huge turnout. Tuesday is their "pasta special night", which is usually a busy day, and this Tuesday was Valentine's Day, which is a very busy day. They should have been fully staffed and had some ideas about where people could wait for tables and for take-out food. But, even if they got caught off guard, they could have handled the situation a lot better.
  • Acknowledge and Apologize - they should have been proactive in admitting their mistakes, apologizing to everyone - liberally and often, and asking for patience.
  • Offer a way out - they could have offered a refund and a deep discount coupon for a return visit to anyone who would prefer not to wait. This would have given the cooks less to cook, it would have cleared up waiting space for those who waited, and it would have shown everybody that waiting was their own choice - no one was being forced to wait.
  • Offer concessions for waiting - an offer of complimentary drinks (non-alcoholic) and/or some finger food appetizers would make the wait more pleasant, and would show they cared. How hard would it be to have a server carry over a tray of bruschetta?
  • Comps and Coupons - throw in a free dessert, or a coupon for a free entry on your next visit, and have people feel like at least the wait was worth something.
  • Table Diners - for those sitting at a table with people standing all around them, All of the Above! That would be a terrible eating experience - you could at least let them know it isn't supposed to be like that.

In the end

Maybe Babbo is too busy, and they don't need more customers. I doubt that, however, as the restaurant industry is notoriously competitive, and there are a half-dozen other Italian food restaurants within a short distance.

Maybe Babbo tastes so good that everyone will come back anyway. No, that isn't true either. Their food is good, but it isn't "oh my god I'm craving Babbo and we have to go there tonight" good. And it isn't inexpensive, either.

In the end, they lost my family's business that night for sure, and I imagine there are more than few other people who won't be in a rush to go back. It's too bad, too, because a little customer service effort could have changed the story in a big way - they could have had a large number of people talking about how great Babbo is. But they chose to go the other way, and so will I.

- Chris Butterworth

Happy New Year!

Image Credit - flickr markus trienke

2016 is in the books. Did you do everything you wanted to?

2017 starts now! with endless possibilities...

Happy New Year!

The end of the year is a good time for reflection on the past and committing to the future.

Where will 2017 take you? Or better yet, where will you go in 2017? (no need to be a passenger - get out there and make your own things happen!)

Whatever you do and wherever you go, I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks for being a part of my 2016.

Here's to Health, Good Fortune (in life and in business), and Happiness in 2017.

Cheers!

- Chris Butterworth

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wanted to take a slight detour this holiday week - away from real estate, business, and all the things we get worked up over during the course of a normal week - and talk instead about Thanksgiving.

Image Credit - flickr tony cyphert

 

Thanksgiving. It's a time to be thankful - to reflect, and to share our gratitude with friends and family. But it should be even more...

Our great-grandfathers' great-grandfathers

had a lot to complain about:

  • Taxation without representation.
  • Being ruled by a monarch an ocean away, whom they didn't elect.
  • Information could only travel as fast, and as far, as a horse could carry it.
  • Science and medicine were not very helpful in their day-to-day affairs.
  • Education was difficult to come by. So was pushing your children into a higher socioeconomic status.
  • Ale was safer to drink than water, so they drank a lot of it.
  • Candlelight, or a lantern, was the best option for working in the evenings.

Life wasn't easy, yet they came together to achieve amazing results. They fought for their independence, then they created a new country!

Today,

we complain when the a/c isn't cold enough, the hot water runs out, or the wi-fi is too slow (even while flying non-stop across the country in an airplane.) We have over 200 channels and can't find anything to watch. We criticize the pharmacy if the wait is too long, and feel bored when our leisure time isn't filled with exciting activities and destinations.

Don't even get me started on Facebook postings about presidential hopefuls!

Honestly, it's all a bit ridiculous.

The world we live in is over-the-top amazing, and we are all lucky to have been born where and when we were!

Boring is an attitude, a state of mind. But not the truth.

Opportunity is wherever you decide to look.

Let's give gratitude freely, and often.

Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Holidays.

- Chris Butterworth