I read a great article on Brand Strategy Insider entitled ‘Customer Experience Defining Value In Retail’ Where the writer gives a great example as to how he can tell whether a restaurant is in trouble. He claims they get rid of the rustic rolls in favour of a more ‘stock’ white item.
In the grand scheme of things, this may not seem like much of a change, but for someone who knows what they are looking at, it is a strong signal that things are going from bad to worse.
A similar thing happened to us at the weekend. We were 12 miles into our 15 mile walk and the Apple Tree Pub (Part of the Ember Inns Chain) appeared before us, beckoning us in for lunch and a welcoming pint. And then we saw the sign – two meals for £7 Mon-Sat 12-5pm – surely a brilliant idea?
So we thought we may as well give it a go. Two naked chicken burgers sounded good and we’d earned our calories with the walk. A couple of pints of Mansfield bitter also sounded nice. Now when the food came (really very quickly) it was as badly presented as any food as I’ve ever seen.
The food itself was lovely. Well cooked chicken, fresh bun, clean chips and clean plate. But that was it. Not even a hint of a salad garnish. Perhaps this was the naked part? By missing that off they made it feel like a fast food dish rather than a great value pub meal. At that price it could compete with any McDonalds or Burger King any day, but it didn’t give you that warm feeling of ambience from a pub, just that slightly grubby feeling you get if you accidentally succumb to fast food hell.
It sounds like I’m really nit picking – and that’s because I am.
Ember Inns is one of the many brands in the Mitchells and Butler stable and they should know better. They own All Bar One, Harvester, Toby Vintage Inns and many more.
Little cuts in service or quality are ALWAYS detected by clients in the end. You may think you’re getting away with it and no-one will notice.
Niall Fitzgerald, the former Chairman of Unilever said that he has sat through hundreds of presentations where researchers and analysts insist that customers will not notice if you make this change or that small tweak, but they do. They always do.
And we tend to tell others about it too.
Thanks To Ewan M for the use of his Ember Inns bottle table marker image