As a rule of thumb I won’t eat in a restaurant where the people running it are not passionate about what they are doing.
Instinctively I don’t go back to places where it feels like the people just don’t care.
My grandmother was a formidable Hotelier and Restaurateur, and she often said: ‘If you want to know how clean the kitchens are, look at the toilets’.
This is going back a long time, and maybe things have changed since the advent of food hygiene laws. But her point is still valid: people often betray their principles in areas where they think you are not looking.
And many assume that if they say, for example, that they are a ‘caring business’, that you’ll accept this statement over your own direct experience.
But if the people making the product and guiding it to my table do not seem to care about it, or indeed about their very own role, this attitude gets projected on to and infects the product, and I guess it has been produced without care. It “feels” substandard to me.
I may be wrong, but perception is everything.
I will also intuit something about a business that hires and keeps people in roles they don’t enjoy. Or a business that fails to create an environment where its people can thrive and are enjoying their work. I will generally assume their priority is not a quality product or an excellent service.
I will then make a further assumption: that they are more focussed on making money than pleasing me. This might clash with my principles, and I stop wanting to give them my money.
Quite a big leap perhaps? But it’s all lurking there on the edge of my subconscious, affecting whether I eat there again – or not.
Now for an old counselling trick: If I get this negative feeling with the above business, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that I might get the reverse feeling from turning that experience on its head.
So what am I likely to intuit from a conscious business? Well, first of all if the people are genuinely interested in the product or service, and in me, their feeling and enthusiasm is projected onto and thus infects the product and I feel good about it.
I feel good about them because I detect their genuineness, or “congruence”. I also feel good about an organisation that values its staff and culture. One that picks people with passion and creates an environment for them to thrive in. If they are applying care to their environment then the product must be fabulous, surely?
This instinctive feeling is usually borne out by my experience. Another place might be cheaper or have a better location but I still prefer to be at the place where the staff care. To quote a line from the Cheers’ theme tune: ‘You want to go where everybody knows your name’.
Or to borrow the basic principle from the famous book “How to win friends and influence people”, we like to do business with people that we like, and who appear to like us.
This has to be authentic liking, but if it is, it wins every time.