By in Business

Is Bad Service A Sign Of Economic Improvement?

I have heard it said in certain business circles that one sure sign of an improving economy is an improving job market. And, one sure sign of an improving job market is a decline in the quality of employees at low to minimum wage establishments such as fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and other such places of business. Over the years I have come to believe that these things are true.

If, indeed, they are true, then the economy and job market in this part of North Carolina must truly be on the rise. Last week, K and I had our Saturday after church dinner at my old favorite good-food-fast diner style restaurant and I noticed the people behind the counter preparing the food did not seem to be up to the caliber that establishment has been previously known for. Nor were the servers, charming though they were, quite the friendly and attentive servers I am used to interacting with at establishment in that franchise. At the time, I chalked it up to an off night.

Then came tonight. K and I visited our new favorite good-food-fast style restaurant; the one I claimed has the best grilled chicken sandwiches ever. After tonight, they may have to relinquish that crown. Neither the quality of the food, nor the appearance and manner of the staff, is up to the standard I have come to expect at that place of business.

While things started well, something seemed off tonight. I couldn't put my finger on it, but as we waited an extraordinarily long time for our food - odd considering we were the only customers in the place at that moment - I watched the staff. I was not favorably impressed.

The fellow that seemed to be in charge was spending all his time chatting with a buddy of his who was swilling beer at the bar. They were talking, rather loudly, about football. The manager/supervisor/whatever-he-was, had hair down to his shoulders barely contained under a dirty baseball cap with the store logo on it, and nothing on his beard.

Okay, maybe he'd worked a long day. Perhaps he'd been there since the store opened. And his beard was short and tidy. But I could see from where I was sitting that there were things that could be done to tighten up the kitchen area and neither he, nor anyone else, seemed to want to do it.

When our food did get delivered, finally, the young man who delivered it did not bother to ask if we needed drink refills or if there was anything else he could get us. As it turned out, my drink was empty and he could have brought the bacon that was supposed to be on my sandwich. I wound up going and asking the m/s/whw if he could please cook me up a couple pieces of bacon to go on the sandwich, showing him where it had been requested on the order form.

I should have asked for some fresh lettuce as well. The lettuce on the sandwich was wilted and unappetizing. I'd taken it off. I'd also requested that my fries be crispy. A few of the were, but most were definitely not.

The young lady who'd originally taken our order did come by and refill my drink and apologize for the bacon being left off my sandwich. Knowing I wasn't happy might have been the reason she decided to forgo the customary inquiry about everything being all right when I checked out.

My displeasure was reflected in the gratuity. While I didn't stiff the young lady, or her co-workers - they practice tips sharing at this store - I wasn't nearly as generous as I usually am.

Either of these cases taken in isolation could be discounted as an off night for the store. Two weeks in a row is indicative, to me at least, that such places of business are losing better qualified help to employers who can offer them better wages, hours, benefits, and working conditions. While this may indicate an improving economy, I shudder to think what it means for our Saturday nights out.

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Image Credit » by nahandro

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wolfgirl569 wrote on October 24, 2015, 7:25 PM

It does sound like the economy might be getting better in your area. I do agree that service at restaurants and stores goes down hill when that happens

Kasman wrote on October 24, 2015, 7:26 PM

I guess that anyone working in a menial job for basic wages doesn't have much incentive to take any pride in what they do, wrong though that may be. If Mrs Kasman and I had come across any such below par service or conditions in any establishment we frequent we simply wouldn't return for a good length of time; we once stayed away from our most favourite restaurant for a whole 6 months just because they took our favourite dish off the menu!

Feisty56 wrote on October 24, 2015, 7:52 PM

It could be an improving economy, or it could be change in some of the management staff. The long-haired, long-winded guy in charge definitely wasn't setting a good example or ensuring staff was doing their jobs. I hope this turns out to be an isolated incident for you and K.

FourWalls wrote on October 24, 2015, 8:17 PM

It may be an improving economy. Then again, it may be the youngest generation's "I won't do anything, give me $15 an hour" mentality. I've seen that as a temp clerk: I went on an assignment last year with another person from my temp agency. My questions were related to the job ("what do we do with these papers after we complete the data entry," "who do we see if we have questions," etc.) The other person, who couldn't have been over 25, asked three questions: "when is lunch," "how long do we get for break," and "can I leave early today." emoticon :sad:

The money isn't free, you have to work for it. Kids today don't realize that. (And yes, I am sounding like my mother. emoticon :grin: )

DWDavisRSL wrote on October 24, 2015, 8:51 PM

The thing is I know the owner of the place we ate at tonight and he would be furious to know they messed up the order. This is the second time they've gotten an order of mine wrong there. We won't be going back for a while.

DWDavisRSL wrote on October 24, 2015, 8:53 PM

It is their lack of incentive and pride in their work that keeps them in the menial low wage jobs. The problem is, the sub-par workers don't understand this basic truth. K and I will not be going back to this restaurant for a good long while. To top it off, the lady that checked us out at the grocery store we shopped at afterward won't be winning any customer service awards any time soon.

JohnRoberts wrote on October 24, 2015, 8:53 PM

Regardless of salary, there is poorer customer service these days. How many times have you spied employees supposedly at work stocking shelves or whatever and they are glued to a cell. Table service is poorer because servers just naturally expect that "required" tip and don't feel they have to earn it by providing good service. Increased wages and benefits are viewed as God given rights and will not improve service.

DWDavisRSL wrote on October 24, 2015, 8:54 PM

This was the first time I've seen that particular fellow at this place, and I hope it will be the last. We don't plan on going back for a while.

DWDavisRSL wrote on October 24, 2015, 8:55 PM

The kids learn in school that if they don't feel like working for it, someone will give it to them anyway. This ill prepares them for the real world.

DWDavisRSL wrote on October 24, 2015, 8:57 PM

You correctly point out that customer service is a dying art in this day and age, but at this restaurant it was better than at most until recently. I don't think the owner is spending nearly as much time there as he used to.

Paulie wrote on October 24, 2015, 11:24 PM

Maybe you will have to dine at a more upscale establishment that pays its help more money. If your food and service has been so bad lately, I would not go back there to eat.

MegL wrote on October 25, 2015, 2:59 AM

That sounds like a valid indicator for an improving economy.

DWDavisRSL wrote on October 25, 2015, 10:05 AM

We have been going there because it is convenient and the food and service has been good until the last couple of visits. We will be finding someplace else to dine for a while.

DWDavisRSL wrote on October 25, 2015, 10:08 AM

I actually felt quite bad for the young ladies at the counter who were waiting on customers. They were pleasant and friendly. It was the kitchen staff that bothered me. Most specifically that manager/supervisor. He was setting a terrible example.

markgraham wrote on October 25, 2015, 1:31 PM

I am sorry to hear that your Saturday night did not go well. I had an experience like that at one of my favorite restaurants as well. They sat us and it took them like 15 minutes to get our drinks and then another 30 minutes just to take our orders and when they did serve us they practically slammed our plates in front of us. I still like the restaurant though.

DWDavisRSL wrote on October 25, 2015, 1:41 PM

I am more disappointed by the level of (or lack of) professionalism I saw at the restaurant last night. It has been a long time since I worked in the food service industry but I haven't forgotten the lessons I learned.

markgraham wrote on October 25, 2015, 1:44 PM

Maybe they are only there to socialize with friends or it could be just for the paycheck.

Dawnwriter wrote on October 26, 2015, 1:42 AM

We do not eat out frequently but when we do, it is important for me to go somewhere that is clean, efficient and has a good ambience. Experience such as yours can be very disappointing. Don't they have comment cards where you can give your opinion?

DWDavisRSL wrote on October 26, 2015, 5:52 PM

I will let the owner know when I see him. Our sons played soccer together in high school. Normally this place is one of the better to dine at for that type of restaurant.