It was a warm, humid and very still Saturday morning in early January, typical of the weather you expect in Sydney in the middle of a hot Australian summer. I was out of bed early as the first task of the day was to take my car to my local tire service center for a routine wheel alignment, rotation and balance, which normally takes about an hour to complete.
It is one of those tasks that do not allow you enough time to go and attend to other duties; you simply have to wait for the work to be done, unless there is something major that needs repair or replacement. Having parked and booked in my car ready for the service, I headed towards the customer service waiting area armed with my morning paper, ready to take some time out to catch up on the news of the day and week.
As I crossed the courtyard to the waiting area one of the owners of the business arrived carrying what appeared to be some household grocery shopping that he had done before work. We both stopped for a moment to say hello and exchange belated season's greetings. I commented with a smile on my face that it was good to see him doing the grocery shopping, he laughed and replied . . .
'Keith, this is not for home - it's breakfast for the guys', then he disappeared into the office.
During the 15 years I have been dealing with this business I have got to know the owners quite well and have always appreciated the great service they offer in what is a competitive and discount driven market. I guess you could say that I am one of those people who remain loyal to a business when the service is great and the relationship is strong. Besides, who really wants to quibble over a few dollars when your personal safety is at stake?
About five minutes later the owner joined me in the waiting room for a chat and we talked about business in general, then we got onto the subject of breakfast for the guys. He mentioned that every Saturday he buys eggs, bacon, cheese, tomato and a loaf of bread - then cranks up the barbeque at the back of the office and cooks the Aussie breakfast icon - the bacon and egg sandwich, for all of his team who are working on the Saturday morning shift.
He went on to explain that some time ago a few of the team had suggested that first thing on Saturday and before their day got busy, they should go to the local cafe and buy some take away bacon and egg sandwiches and coffee for breakfast, but he had discovered that this was both time consuming and quiet expensive, when you have up to ten people to cater for. So now he buys all the ingredients on his way into work, turns on the barbeque and puts his cooking skills to the test.
He then excused himself and was off to cook breakfast for all the team.
Now I suppose it would be fair to say that cooking breakfast for all his team is not such a big deal, after all he was saving both money and time, however, setting aside the commercial aspects and productivity for his business, I viewed this as a guesture that was certain to build staff morale and make his business a happier place to work in.
As customers we have an expectation that we will always receive good service from any business we deal with, however, what determines the quality of the customer service we receive is the attitude of the people who work in the business. As employees our attitude towards what we do at work is influenced by many things not least of all is how our employer or boss treats us. What he was doing is rarely seen in business today, he was being of service to his team and setting an example by cooking breakfast them.
This simple and caring act is no doubt great for morale, work place relationships and friendship. During my short chat with him I could see that he also enjoyed his weekly chef duties and did not view it as anything more than doing something to make the work day all that more enjoyable for his team.
Some may say that this boss could do far more productive things to add value to his business, however, the value can easily be seen in the way in which his team go about their work. In every way it is a perfect example of genuine and caring leadership, something all bosses should consider as a number one priority in creating a work environment where people are happy, look forward to coming to work and enjoy what they do. The pay off is not just in the job well done, but in the many satisfied customers who remain loyal to the business.
Much to my delight my car was ready well inside the allotted hour with no major issues to be fixed. As I drove away, I could see a number of the team enjoying their Aussie icon breakfast along with the early morning cup of coffee. I was certain with a hearty breakfast cooked by a caring boss that they would be well prepared for the challenges of the day and most importantly the continued delivery of great customer service.
Inspired by Ken and Mark Rickard, the owners of Abel Tyre Service - Brookvale, Sydney
Copyright © 2008 Keith Ready
Keith Ready lives and works in Sydney, Australia and is affectionately known as Mr Inspiration. He is publisher of InspirEmail which provides inspirational messages to refresh the spirit and boost the emotional bank account.
You can visit his website at www.agiftofinspiration.com.au