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French connection – the true story

Is it rewarding to take care about good quality and prices? ‘Sure’, you’d probably say. ‘It attracts the costumers, puts you ahead of others and so on’. That’s all true. But about a month ago I learned at work about one more advantage.

Every day a catering company delivers breakfasts for us. About 9:30 AM two guys walk into our kitchen with a few boxes filled with a large variety of different sandwiches, salads, cocktails etc. They sell the food at reasonable prices, we get to choose from different products, sizes, tastes.

And everybody was happy that way. That is until one day.

A snail

A friend bought a large sandwich and found… a little snail inside. Of course it’s not very hard to figure out how that happened – clearly someone must have missed the “washing the lettuce really good” class. But it was disgusting and inappropriate even more due to the fact, that the sandwich was supposed to be vegetarian.

So we had a funny episode at work (big deal, huh?). We joked and fooled around a little, someone made photos, someone said something in French. It was even said, that the lettuce must have been good if the snail liked it. On the other hand, it tried to make a break through and run away. And we can’t be sure whether the little guy ((well, maybe not a guy – snails are hermaphrodites)) was frightened or there was something wrong with the sandwich.

Anyway, so we had a little laugh, everybody checked his sandwich in a very theatrical way and got back to work.

But the next day brought us sad news instead of breakfast. An email was sent to the company’s public e-mail group informing, that because of ‘the incident’ our company resigns from the current catering service and will look for another. Of course there have been some apologies from the sandwich&salad provider and so on, but still – that move was to be expected.

Meanwhile a discussion broke out and it turned out, that people wanted these sandwiches back. Even despite the snail. They simply liked the food and prices and were willing to forgive that one, single mistake ((especially that it was only one person’s concern)).


"Our snail"
Our snail. "Running" away on the second picture.

And they got what they wanted – the very same breakfast provider is back. Of course some people are still disgusted and bring their own sandwiches or prefer to buy them in the cafeteria on the ground floor (yes, it wasn’t like we would be devoid of food after the resignation).

Everybody blows it. If you never did, it just means, that you haven’t done something long enough. Machines break, people make mistakes. Sh*t happens.

But “the French incident” showed me that providing good quality and reasonable prices makes your chance for a second chance more probable.

Yet it doesn’t mean that if you provide good quality, then you can be indulgent towards your employees or less concerned about your costumers. Sh*t will happen sooner or later by itself. And you have to keep in mind, that a client isn’t like a dog which always loves you – even after you had his balls cut off. A client will be offended even because of a slight pinch. Furthermore, he will encourage everybody to dislike you a priori.

So look after your products or services quality and keep the prices at a sane level; not only because it’s taking care about your clients. It’s also taking care about yourself. It’s an investment.

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