Thursday, July 19, 2007

A bankrupt bagel place

The bagel place near my office has gone out of business. They opened their shop right around the time I opened my urology office. They were on Terry Rd in Smithtown, a busy, well traveled road in the heart of Smithtown's professional office complex district. The nearest bagel place was 1/2 mile away in a shopping center. That bagel place, which seems to do well, was much more expensive than the Terry Rd store, had long lines, and often a rude staff. Why did one place close, while another has thrived. Here's my take.

  • Inconsistent service: The Terry Rd store delivered, sometimes in 5 minutes and other times after 1 1/2 hours. The thriving bagel place only delivers for large orders, but they deliver on time, as promised. Sometimes the failed store would answer the phone promptly, while at other times, they would not answer. Sometimes, faxed orders would be filled, but not on a consistent basis.

  • Inconsistent results: The Terry Rd store had a great Turkey BLT. The first time I got it, it had mayo--the perfect amount--crisp bacon, and smoked turkey. It really hit the spot. The next time I got it, they forgot to put mayo on it. The next time, they forgot the bacon! I called them, and they delivered the bacon and an apology. I ordered the sandwich several times, but it was never as good as the first, and consistently inconsistent in it's quality. My staff had the same experience with their sandwiches. I actually began calling the bagel place the "The Chance Bagelry." Eventually we stopped ordering. At the thriving store, The "Smithtown Special" is the same day in, day out, as is the "Main Street", and the "John Smith."

  • The Experience: Being that delivery was inconsistent, I used to stop in from time to time to pick up food. The never seemed to know me, never a "hey Doc." And I was a loyal customer. The thriving store seemed to know who I was, even though I stopped there less frequently. Even the mean front desk worker, a 19 yo girl, was mean to me in the same, personal way that made me feel, in some odd way special. Actually, she had the same relationship with many patrons, sort of like at Ed Debevec's in Chicago. I do not like her, but I enjoy going to the store to see what kind of pissy mood she'll be in, and how she'll take it out on me. Weired!

There are lessons to be learned here. Physicians may not sell bagels, but we are in the customer service business. In order to thrive, inconsistency in service and results must be minimized as much as can be, and the customer's experience must be as positive and personal as possible.

Just my opinion.


The IU.

PS: The baby and mom are doing well and are coming home today.