I am writing this to offer a suggestion to help you be even more fantastic than you already are! Let me start by letting you know that you are most definitely one of our favorite restaurants. We grew up on the south side of Atlanta and we’ve both been fortunate to visit your first Dwarf House more times than most.
Have you ever considered creating a checklist? Checklists are a great way of making sure you get everything on your agenda or plan for the day or even just the morning accomplished!
We have the privilege of eating breakfast at one of your locations several times a week. Now since we are early risers, we arrive early some mornings and it’s just a little after 6am (but still after). Lately, it seems that when we arrive, your outside sign on the top of the restaurant has not been turned on yet. We thought that you just weren’t open, so we left and went somewhere else. One morning recently when the sign wasn’t on, merely out of curiosity, we decided to pull into the parking lot, only to discover that you were indeed open but just hadn’t turned on the outside light…yet again. (This happens more than once a week). Interestingly enough, the lights in the drive-thru were all on and you had quite a line. (Of course, you have the best biscuits and when you add your chicken to them, I’m confident they are the very best in the world!)
Now that we know that the light being off is not an indication that you are closed, we go ahead and pull in. On more than one occasion, we’ve pulled in, parked, and headed to the door only to discover your doors had not yet been unlocked. (Remember we are arriving after 6am, as we are well aware you don’t open until 6am for breakfast).
Oops I got off track…back to my letter.
When we find the doors are still locked, one of us from the parking lot has to knock to let you know we are here. (It’s not just the two of us – there are definitely other folks who want your delicious chicken biscuits too). Once inside, there’s frequently not a clean table to be found. Since we were the first through the door, we know it’s not a mess from today’s breakfast – I’m assuming that it’s the gunk from the night before.
We place our order and then we wait and wait. However, we will be given our waters right away. (Thank you!) We are told either that you haven’t made the coffee for the dining room yet, or that you are in the process of making more coffee because it’s all gone to the drive thru folks. Keep in mind we both are very good customers. We have been dining with you for over a quarter of a century. (Both inside and through the drive-thru). We just aren’t ready to take you out of our rotation for breakfast, lunch or dinner for that matter.
Sorry I got off track again, but seriously – please let us know if you are only open to drive thru customers in early morning hours. In that case, we might not come as often because we like to sit down to
our electronic Walt Street Journals and visit with the other early risers we’ve come to know. Sometimes we use this time to make our checklists and plan for the day ahead.
Back to my letter, often we have to go back forth to get our chicken biscuits and then again, at last, our coffees! On the days that you go back and forth to bring us our breakfast we appreciate it! Question – wouldn’t it be easier for everyone if you just put all our items together on one tray and handed them to us when we order? Or even have your folks put all of our items on one tray and make only one trip? Hmm I didn’t think about this until right now – are your folks trying to get in a few extra steps with their FitBits or Apple watches?
Either way, we then need to find a place to sit. You would think it’s not difficult that early in the morning, and with so few people dining in. However, many times we can’t find any tables that don’t have some kinda something on them. So I will have to hunt down something to clean off the table with so that we can sit down. Now, when there’s ketchup smeared on a table or something more than just crumbs, we don’t clean that off. I just feel like that’s your job. Many times, I’ve let the folks behind the counter know that the tables could use a wipe down and they always very politely thank me and say they will take care of it. However, usually at the time we leave, about 45-60 minutes later, no one has come out to clean up or even take a look at it. If they are trying to get their steps in, here is a great opportunity! They could make this two trips, you know – come and assess the mess and then come back with the right things to clean everything up.
Earlier this week, it seemed to be a tougher morning for y’all than others. We arrived a little later than our usual time – a little after 6:15am – and the red sign above the location still had not been turned on yet. The doors were unlocked so we were able to come right in without knocking on the door, thank you! When we walked in, the dining room was a little darker than usual. Then out of nowhere someone behind the counter said something like ‘Geez!’ So he quickly went to what I think is kitchen area, and within less than a minute, all of the lights were on inside and out.
But it didn’t stop there, there was ketchup smeared all over one table, unwrapped condiments on the table, and napkins. (I’ve included the pic of the ketchup that was still on the table.) I did pick up the unopened ones and put them in their place. But remember, I think the smeared items are your job. I then proceeded to wipe down another table for us. (On a later visit this week there appeared to be a faint stain from where the ketchup had been on the table during the previous visit).
So back to my original suggestion – how about a checklist? The checklist would include items like:
- Make sure all the lights are on inside and out. (You don’t want to miss out on the folks who see the sign off and go somewhere else).
- Make plenty of coffee before you open. (When coffee is made, neither your people nor your customers have to make multiple trips to back and forth).
- Make sure the door is unlocked…of course not before 6am. (Not everyone will knock on the window – they just might turn around and go somewhere else).
- Make a once over of the dining room to see if there’s anything that needs your immediate attention- do you want anyone to see the mess from the night before? If they are first timers, they might not return. And in this day of social media, they might post about their experience to their digital devices. At that point, you’ve lost that person as a customer and who knows who will make the choice not to come in, or choose never to return? You don’t want them posting it on Nextdoor, the community newsletter that goes out several times a day. That means their experience will be shared not only to people they know but to ALL the people in ALL the subdivisions closest to you. Recently someone posted about their bad experience somewhere close by and then other folks shared their bad experiences…and that went on for days. Yikes! On a positive note, I’ve seen people share their good experiences somewhere and that goes on for days as well. Sometimes, people post that they tried whatever place based on that recommendation, and then their good experience – a win!
Now this is just a starting point, I bet there are other things that could be added to such a checklist.
I’m happy to make the checklist for you and even come in early mornings to make the list and help you get in a groove. But it’s going to cost ya…two chicken biscuits and two coffees on the days we come in to help ya!
Let me know if we can help!