Borrowing Good Ideas

Top-notch service at a Wyoming restaurant

By Diane Smith

You know the saying, “Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery?” Well, one of the reasons David and I like to “hit the road” is to discover, celebrate, and occasionally borrow good ideas from other communities. At a restaurant in Sheridan, Wyoming, we discovered two ideas that are certainly worth celebrating and that some of our restaurant friends may, we hope, think about implementing.

We decided to try Wyoming’s Rib and Chop House for dinner after watching a half-dozen cars pull into its parking lot in under five minutes. Figuring it was the go-to restaurant in Sheridan, we decided to give it a try even if we had to wait. It was a delightful meal. The food was good, the service even better, and it was clear throughout the evening that the management cared deeply about its customers. Furthermore, customers are encouraged to let management know of any problems they might encounter. Not surprisingly, their service is top-notch.

So how does a small-town restaurant provide such super customer service? We thought two particular innovations were noteworthy. First, in each of the restrooms was a stack of business cards that read, “If this restroom needs attention, please give this card to any employee.” Second, at each table there was a large card that said, “Want to talk to a manager? Text the manager at 307-223-XXXX.”

If we’d had any problems during the meal, we could have easily and anonymously texted a manager to let her know. When we told the manager who stopped by our table to say hello and check on us what a great idea we thought this was, she replied, “While we’d always prefer a no-text night, we’d rather know if our customers are unhappy so we can fix it.”

Neither of these ideas is going to change the world. But it’s fun to see the improvements – low-tech (business cards) to high-tech (texting) – that longtime industries like food service are implementing. David and I eat out all the time. Seriously, all the time. So, while we know nothing about running a restaurant, we know plenty about eating at them. And we’d never seen either of these innovations before, not in big cities or in small towns.

Our hats are off to Wyoming Rib and Chop House for caring so much about its customers that it’s given them the power to let management know when something’s gone awry. It’s tough to run any business well, particularly when lots of potentially grumpy, hard-to-please customers are involved. But if the line of folks waiting for dinner at Wyoming Rib and Chop House in Sheridan is any indication, giving customers simple opportunities to be “heard” can result in a big payoff. Great job.

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