Monday, October 08, 2007

McDonald's Coffee?

I'm not a coffee snob. The Folger's Classic Roast Half Caf that I brew in my home pot each morning serves the majority of my coffee needs. But, when I occassionally do want to spring for a storebought cup of coffee, I still can't bring myself to place the order at McDonald's.

I was excited a year ago when McDonald's announced it was entering the premium coffee market. I thought it might be a great alternative to Starbucks. Then I went to try McDonald's coffee when they were offering it for free.

I was shocked when I walked in and saw that they were brewing the coffee in the same exact pots that my company uses in our breakrooms. I just didn't associate that with premium coffee.

Again, I'm not a coffee snob. For taste, coffee is coffee. I have a tough time distinguishing the taste of a Starbucks latte and Folgers with milk. But it dawned on my how important the other aspects of the experience were to me when I struggled to figure out why I was so adverse to paying $1.09 for McDonald's coffee, but didn't have much problem paying $1.45 for Starbucks brewed coffee, occasionally.

So, McDonald's, do you want my occasional coffee business? What did it come down to? Replace the breakroom coffee pots with coffee urns. To me, the coffee urns look much more professional and more suited to hold "premium" coffee.

That's it.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Portillo's Hot Dogs

Every time I visit the Chicago area, I make it a point to stop by Portillo's Hot Dogs. The food is fabulous. The staff is always friendly and helpful and the place is always clean. The food prep areas are visible, so you know there's no funny business.

They once gave me the wrong food. They quickly took it back, asked me what I wanted and had a manager refund me the difference with a very pleasant and responsive attitude. They apologized for the error, but didn't dwell on it. They fixed it and made it right.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Tree Trimming

A year ago I decided to have the big tree in my front yard trimmed. I called two companies. Both were doing work in my neighborhood. Both had nice looking trucks. Good first impression.

One company called me back in a few hours and scheduled a time to come out for an estimate the next day. He arrived on time. Was well groomed. Seemed very nice. Even had a "certified arborist" distinction. He gave me the estimate. $250.

I asked when he could do it. "Next week. We're doing a bigger job up the street, we can do it that same day." Okay. Let's do it. Two days later I recieved an e-mail from his company with a confirmation on the trim date and another copy of the estimate. Keeping me in the loop. Good job.

Later on the day that I received the e-mail from the first guy, the second guy called me back. $200. It wasn't a difficult decision. This guy sounded nice enough, but by not getting back to me as quickly I figured that time wasn't of the essence to him. Who knew when he'd be able to trim my tree? I told him, "Thanks for getting back to me, but I've already scheduled work with another company."

I felt no remorse for paying the first guy $50 more. There's something to that old saying, "you get what you pay for." Both these guys had nice trucks. Both probably did the same quality trim work. But, the timeliness of the response, the good personality, the "arborist" distinction and good communication with e-mail set the first guy apart.

Additionally, the name of the first guy's company was a family name. The second guy had a generic name that was obviously chosen for it's placement in the phone book. Given his lower price and desire to get work by being the first listed tree service in the phone book told me that this guy viewed his business as a commodity. He's probably keeping himself busy. There are many people who are probably willing to sacrifice service quality to save a few bucks. But, this guy could probably make more money by working less if he did realize the value of higher quality service.

The first guy finished the job a day early and also removed a big pile of leaves that I had raked up and was intending to bag. Great customer service!