Todd From Tampa

Do you want to make an impact wherever you go?  If you’re in sales you do – impacting business is at the heart of every great sale, and every trusted adviser.  So how do you do it? How do you create impact?

There’s been a lot written on this topic – sales leadership and success.  But sometimes it takes the unexpected to really bring it home.  My family enjoys heading out to dinner on the weekend.  Sometimes it’s my wife and I, and other times we have some or all of the kids.  When we take the entire family of 9 to dinner it’s a big deal; it’s not an easy task for any server.  I mean, we are a big family, with lots of children, lots of special orders, some food allergies, people sharing meals with younger ones, and almost always, we require them to assemble some tables to fit our family – at times we need to put on our life vest if there’s a spill.  We try to make it enjoyable for the server, but not every server is up for the big family experience.  That’s where Todd from Tampa comes in.

I’ll never forget the day we met Todd.  He showed up to our table one evening, big smile, and ready to take our order.  Often, when this happens we just order water for everyone.  It happens so quickly that I don’t even know who my server is.  If I need something later, I’m looking around trying to figure out who to track down.  But that day, Todd wanted us to know him.  When he introduced himself, there was a tremendous sense of enthusiasm in this young man.  He was there to serve.  He took our water request and returned promptly with drinks, ready to take the food order.  This is when it gets tricky with our family.  “I’m having this, but sharing with him who is having that…oh, can you leave off the onions, add extra tomatoes, and substitute cheddar for blue cheese….”.  No matter what we threw at this guy, he took it with a smile – almost as if he would have asked for that too.  He wanted this meal to be perfect.  He talked with the kids, made them feel welcome, got to know us, and made sure, before leaving, that we knew who he was.  “Todd” he said.  Just remember, “Todd from Tampa, you can remember that, can’t you?”, he said with a smile

Our dining experience was so great, we started asking for him every time we visited the Longhorn in Pineville, NC.  Recently my wife’s fish was underdone.  When Todd came by to check on us, my wife mentioned this to him, while peeling up a corner of her salmon.  He looked at it and quickly said, “Yeah, I would want that cooked just a little more.”  And off he went to get it taken care of.  On another night we had a similar issue with a steak.  As he was off getting this taken care of my wife and I recalled so many servers who somehow thought we should just take it as it comes.  In fact we have had people try to make us feel guilty (or it seems that way) just for asking them to redo something.  Not Todd – he works to make this experience just right.  Both times he made sure the item not prepared correctly was removed from the bill!

At one point my wife and I went on a special diet.  We had to order our meats with nothing but salt and a little oil, no marinade.  We had restrictions on how the side were prepared and on what side we were allowed to have.  After just one visit, Todd had the whole thing memorized.  On our next visit, Todd new what we needed before we even asked! He had listened and learned the requirements and was there to help us get it right the first time.  Always with a smile, and always trying to make sure everything was just right.  Todd treated us like we had one night to eat out that week, and it had to be perfect.  I know Todd will serve many tables in one night – in fact, any server that does well will see more tables than they can count.  Most will treat the customer like they are one of the 100 tables.  But not Todd, he knows this is our special night, and he is there to do everything he can to make it memorable.  Make your customer contact memorable, fun, enthusiastic, and special – like they have saved up to buy this one thing, and have chosen you to bring it to them.

© 2012, David Stelzl


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