Created by Ruth Elliott

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Teachers Serve It Up

Recently I have had some experiences with stores and restaurants that have made me think about customer service. During our summer holidays, we stopped at the West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton for a few hours. I know that Edmonton and Alberta in general are having some difficult times economically. I noticed that even a large and popular store like H & M seemed to have less merchandise than usual. The aisles were wider and the selection was not as varied. Both at H & M and many other stores in the mall, only one or two cash registers were open so that the customers who wished to buy

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something had to wait in a long line. At several stores where I was thinking of buying something, I walked away because I didn't want to wait in such a long line.

Suggestion: Hire more cashiers so you can keep the customers happy so you will sell more merchandise so you can hire more cashiers and so on.

Back in my home city of Saskatoon, my family decided to go out to a new restaurant for Friday night supper. When the four of us came in the door, the one, lone server greeted us and told us we could sit anywhere. Since it was a restaurant/sports bar type of place, there were about four televisions all tuned in to a baseball game. I asked if the Canadian Football League game was on. Some customers sitting at the next table said that they had asked the server to change the channel to show the football game and she said she would. (It had not happened yet.) After ten minutes, the server came and gave us menus. She said, "You are going to get terrible service here tonight." She said it with a smile like she was just stating the facts. Then she left again.

We waited one more minute and then walked out.

Suggestion: If you work in the service industry, always represent your restaurant or store in the best possible way. If you are having an issue because the boss did not bring in enough staff or because someone called in sick, explain that. At least the customers will understand that you are doing your best under difficult circumstances. As it is, I don't plan to go back to that particular restaurant again.

When we left the previous restaurant, we went across the parking lot to another restaurant. We were kept waiting to be seated while the cashier rang up people's bills. She did say sorry to us and that she would be with us right away. Since it was a buffet, once we were seated,

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we selected our food immediately. That restaurant was Johnny Boy's. The food was delicious, fresh, and hot. Our server kept coming by to ask if we needed anything. I will definitely plan to return to this restaurant.

Last weekend, my husband and I traveled to Regina for the Roughrider football game. We went to Joey's Only for lunch. When we arrived, there were few people in the restaurant. As it grew busier, the one main server just kept moving around effortlessly, setting up tables, bringing menus and drinks. She did phone to ask the boss to come in. Then she just kept doing what needed to be done, with poise and grace. The food was good but I was even more impressed with the calibre of the staff.

This morning, I took my son out for breakfast. There is a little cafe called Fong's in our neighbourhood. It looks like a small town cafe with booths around the outside and tables in the middle. I believe that they rent the facility which is part of a little strip mall. They have good home style food (breakfast all day) and Vietnamese specials. The thing that bugs me is the washroom. The bottom of the toilet has had a piece cracked and broken on it forever. There is no proper toilet paper holder. There is no paper towel holder. It says, "I just don't care." This washroom has been saying this for several years already. I don't think it is my place, as the occasional customer, to suggest using a few dollars to spiff up the washroom. Would I invite any of my friends to go to this restaurant with me? No. It's not up to "company" standards.

What do these stories of restaurants and stores have to do with myself as an educator? In the next few weeks, students will be returning to the elementary schools in Saskatoon. What kind of welcome will they receive? Will we have enough staff to meet their needs? Will teachers and office administrators speak politely and respectfully to all students and their families? Will students go home at the end of the first week saying, "I never want to go back" or "Can I go to school tomorrow, even though it's Saturday?"

Schools these days can be stressful settings. Teachers are being asked to do more and more. What kind of grace and poise under pressure will teachers show? How can we move eff

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ortlessly around the room to graciously "set the table" for our students?

What does our school and our classroom say? Does it say, "We just don't care" or does it say, "We will go the extra mile to create a welcoming place where you will feel safe and be surrounded by joy."

For all you teachers out there, God bless. Have a great year.

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