I would be willing to bet that most people are creatures of habit. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, because when we find companies we like we tend to stick with them. That could be a brand of clothing or a type of car or the restaurants we frequent. And we usually tend to stick to our own neighborhood restaurants for various reasons.
So, when I found out one of my favorite restaurants had gone out of business, it was sad. This is where I spent many Thanksgivings and Christmases enjoying the holiday special of turkey and pumpkin pie.
I went through the restaurant reviews and found out that I wasn’t the only one that felt that way. In fact, some of the reviews were quite interesting.
See, the place wasn’t the fanciest in the world. In fact, it was a little rundown because it really hadn’t been updated since the 80’s. But that was the beauty of it. It had the original sign, probably from the 50’s, and the original waiters and waitresses. Okay, I don’t know about that one, but they were all over the age of 70. The food was good, plentiful, and inexpensive. It was open 24 hours a day, and was especially busy on holidays. It was also very All American kitch.
The place felt comfortable and homey and the waiters had just the right attitude. I always wondered what their stories were and why they were still waiting tables in their 70’s. Maybe they came to Hollywood to make it as actors, singers, etc. and ended up in a lifetime career at the diner. But they never complained and always made you feel special, calling you “Hun” and “Sugar”.
A few months ago I walked in and noticed they had completely remodeled. Gone were the All American signs which were replaced with fancy signs from Europe in other languages. The menu had also changed. Gone were the favorites and special dishes that made the diner famous. And the worst was the replacement waiters who could care less if you got your food or not. And when you finally did get your food it was cold and a much smaller portion for a lot more money.
This reminds me of bands who develop a following because whatever kind of music they play attracts a particular type of audience. Then when they veer off course and completely change they lose the very people that were so loyal to them.
In reading the reviews I could tell exactly where the place jumped the shark. It started with the new owners, who had no idea how to run a restaurant and even less idea about how to treat customers. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and tried it a few times. It never got better.
I just passed it today and even the sign was gone. That was the last semblance of a bygone era. I noticed that the parking lot was empty and no customers inside.
There’s a difference in updating and making something better and completely changing what it was that endeared your customers to you in the first place.
Yes, you should keep trying to make your business better and keep improving the customer experience with new products and services. But not at the expense of what brought your customers to you in the first place. Because we are creatures of habit and we like what we like, even if some people would think it’s weird.