This past Sunday morning while enjoying time with my beautiful bride of almost 30 years, I also enjoyed another one of my favorite things, observing excellent leadership.
When we pulled up to Eggsellent Café in Carrollton, Texas, we noticed people standing outside waiting to be seated. While we wanted to get home to do some weekend gardening, we were not in a huge hurry so decided to join the others who were waiting for their breakfast.
As we sat outside enjoying the wonderful spring weather and making a few new friends as we waited, the restaurant’s owner (“My name is Meff. Just like Jeff but with an M.”) was busy adding names to the waitlist, calling other names to be seated, and visiting with everyone, making all of his customers smile and feel welcomed. He never stopped moving!
After a short 15-minute wait, Meff approached us with a big smile and said, “Your table is ready. Enjoy your breakfast!” Immediately after being seated, our coffee was poured and from that moment on, I never saw the bottom of my coffee mug.
Since our table was right by the door, we saw Meff walk in and out, ushering in new patrons and saying “Thank you. I hope you enjoyed your time with us,” as satisfied customers walked out the door. During a brief break, Meff stopped at our table to ask if we needed anything. I responded by saying how impressed I was with the service. Meff said, “Customer service is everything. If a customer has to raise his or her cup for more coffee, I am disappointed. We must pour the coffee before they ask for it. It is important to make the customer happy.”
Meff went on to say that he works hard to ensure his staff works hard. “I want them to see me constantly moving. If I set the example, then they will work hard as well. After we close, I will buy the entire staff drinks and all the food they want. But while we are serving customers, we must work hard. There is no standing around.” So that’s why my coffee mug was never empty!
Leadership examples don’t get much better than Meff. He cares deeply for his customers. He realizes that other restaurants can cook eggs and pancakes (although I would put Meff’s Belgian waffle against any competitor – it was outstanding!) but setting the tone for the customer experience starts with him. Meff expects his staff to work hard but doesn’t just demand it. He models it! And after a day of serving customers, Meff serves his staff, showing appreciation for a job well done.
That’s why people wait at this restaurant. They could probably go down the street and get seated immediately. But will they get that personal touch from the owner or general manager? Will they receive outstanding customer service? Will they see the bottom of their coffee mug?
So on a beautiful Sunday morning, Meff entered into my personal Leadership Hall of Fame. He gets it. Meff understands that leadership isn’t something you talk about. It isn’t an attitude. Leadership doesn’t bark orders and expect things to happen.
Leadership sets the example.
Why don’t more leaders live by this philosophy? What keeps leaders from leading?
Darren K. Ford
I've enjoyed a great career. Worked in many different industries with great coworkers and customers. I talk to a lot of people while drinking a lot of coffee. I read constantly. From all of this, I have much to say.