Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Lesson From a Local Business

When I first met Steve, the owner of Harried and Hungry, he showed up with a huge tray of wraps and sandwiches to sample...but forgot the mayo. And mustard. And napkins. This was October of 2009. You would think this would detract from the food, but it did not. He drove to his shop and came back within 20 minutes with a sincere apology and a bunch of 10% off coupons. Even though his kitchen staff most likely forgot the condiments and he could have sent a driver, he took responsibility for his business. And I respected that.

I've had a great relationship with Harried and Hungry ever since. They are one of the few companies I recommend and talk about online. Their food is remarkably delicious (I start to salivate thinking about their house salad!) and the owners are wonderful. Sadly, Steve passed away at the young age of 40 last year, but his family continues on the tradition of amazing service and delicious food. This is what I've learned from them.

1. We're human, mistakes happen. Own it. Steve was trying to win my business that first day. Showing up with a tray of sandwiches without the condiments wasn't exactly planned. He apologized and corrected the situation as fast as possible. He also took responsibility. I could have dismissed them and found another company, but to be fair, the food was exceptional. That combined with his quick response and willingness to fix it kept me loyal to them.

2. Being flexible is a must. Since that fateful day, I have ordered many a breakfast and lunch from HH - and sometimes an issue arises. I thought I ordered 10 lunches and 8 show up. We're missing the mayo/mustard. I only ordered 8 lunches when I need 10! I don't know too many owners who will come to your aid as soon as you need it, but this company does. I assume Hazel is the owner. She and her husband will take detours (or simply leave the office) to drop off whatever is missing. And not in an hour or two after the call - but within 30 minutes. They deliver so punctually (if not earlier) that no one but Hazel and I know that the VP might not have received their Cobb salad. If they weren't flexible to situations, they would not be as amazing as they are.

3. Attitude is everything. Hazel has been taking my order since we started using Harried and Hungry in 2009. And she is utterly delightful. With her calm demeanor and easy to talk to personality, I honestly look forward to having to book lunches only because I get to call her. Why? Because she isn't fake. No, seriously, she is sincere. She cares about her customers. She will call once every few months if we haven't ordered just to check in. She calls after a big order to make sure everything arrived on time and was ok. When I got her lost trying to find the random boat house we had our sales meeting in, she still smiled at me when she got out of the car, gave me the 6 lunches I didn't order on time, and asked if everything was ok. She should teach a customer service class. Maybe it's because she enjoys what she does or maybe she has the patience of a saint. Either way, from her I've learned staying calm, listening to the situation and being prepared lead to a happy attitude - and a happy customer.

I'm an advocate for this company because they serve delicious food and have wonderful customer service. They constantly wow our in-coming clients and my team loves that the food they ordered is here on time and in earth friendly packaging. But I respect them for their continued pursuit of making people happy. The quality shows all around and has been consistent, if not progressively better, since I met them way back that first day. We need companies to embrace, even small ones, that remind us that their are amazing people out there doing a great job. Also realizing the lessons they teach us is just an added bonus.

If you live in/near Seattle and haven't tried them, I highly recommend stepping into their cafe' or ordering from their catering menu. And if you do, tell Hazel Kendal says hello! 

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