The other day, I forgot to customize an order on the ticket before I sent it to the kitchen, so instead of F'n K Loaded Chips with a little of all 3 meats (which wasn't on the menu), our customer just got Asada. He was such a lovely gentleman and I had great conversation with him while he ordered. It was his first time in. I wanted to accommodate his special request. But we were so busy and as soon as I finished taking his order, the next customer was standing in front of me ready to place their order. I felt so awful when I realized what happened -- way too late to make up for it (unless he reads this, in which case, please come back and let me treat you to the correct order). note: F'n K Loaded Chips with all 3 meats is now officially on the "secret" menu.
A few weeks ago one of our regular customers came in and with his order he asked if he could have extra salsa verde (he loves the salsa verde). I pulled it out of the fridge and set it on the counter so I wouldn't forget it. We were slammed -- the line was out the door. So when his order came up, I bagged all the food and in my haste I completely forgot his salsa. I realized it pretty quickly and I had his phone number so I tried to to call him and catch him before he got too far away, but it went to his voicemail. I was so frustrated with myself when I realized what happened. Days later, I ended up filling a mason jar with salsa verde and dropping it off to his work, though I didn't catch him. I wanted to acknowledge the error, even though I know it didn't erase it from existence. He's been back since and was so understanding and forgiving.
A few weeks after we opened, I was working the counter and bagged an order to go. The customer called me about 10 minutes after he'd left to let me know we forgotten a quesadilla. He was so nice about it, but I felt so bad. He didn't live far away and we weren't too busy, so I had the team make one and delivered it to him myself, along with a gift card and my apologies. I could just picture a little kid so disappointed because all they wanted was a cheese quesadilla and they didn't get it.
The point is, even the "little" mistakes keep me up at night. It's like I can't let them go. Being an entrepreneur, more specifically a small business owner, requires guts and mistakes are inevitable. Everyone makes mistakes. We're all human. But mistakes still bug me. I want to make everyone exceedingly happy all the time! In behavioral science speak, I've been labeled an Encourager and a Harmonizer.
another note: if you've seen our bathroom, now you know that I chose the theme as a reminder that it's not possible to make everyone exceedingly happy all the time, let alone simply "please everyone."
But I digress. The best business owners always look for opportunities for improvement and innovation. One of the biggest opportunities we saw right away was improving the speed with which we get orders out of the kitchen. We didn't know how long completing orders would take when we first opened (or how busy we'd be) -- we just opened and did our best, learning as we went.
We're happy to report that this little fast-casual taco shop has our average ticket times down to about 8 minutes (fresh tortillas and all!) -- faster when we're less busy, slower when we're busier. But with that accomplishment, came new challenges. We focused so much more on speed, that we lost some accuracy. We learned we have to be totally dialed in to one order at a time. And we learned that customers understand and are extremely patient when we have to let them know we'll be with them as soon as we finish a previous customer's order.
All of this is to say that mistakes happen, even with the best of intentions (hooray for reducing our wait times!). They've happened to us as customers at plenty of food establishments, and they will continue to happen because no one is perfect. All we can do is the best we can do, and continue to strive for improvement.
So, if you've been in and we've made a mistake on your order, we are so, so sorry. Please know that we don't take it lightly. With the same spirit as we endeavored to speed up our service, we've made operational changes and introduced checks and balances before we deliver orders to customers. We're doing everything we can think of to prevent errors and not sacrifice the speed we've gained. So know that we live in a constant state of "how can we make this better?" and we'll never let up, because we're small business owners. We have guts. We make mistakes. And we'll never stop working towards making something better.
(Oh, and for the record, sometimes the mistake does favor the customer, and if that's been you, then lucky you!)