In the 1970s television show, “Fantasy Island,” the lead character, Mr. Roarke, would introduce all the guests of the week, and their fantasies. It was his job to make sure they received what they expected — if not more.
Just as the plane would land, Roarke would instructed his team with the classic words, “Smiles, everyone. Smiles.”
This weekend, we have a “Mr Roarke” opportunity. Visitors will be descending upon our city for Grilling on Main. The barbecue competition will bring competitors and spectators alike, and our downtown streets will be filled with vendors and other attractions.
Minden has prided itself on being “the friendliest city in the South.” I can remember that being on the “Welcome to Minden” sign at the corner of Sheppard Street and Lee Street for years. But, are we living up to that statement? Do people leave our community feeling like they were treated better than in other cities? Is outstanding customer service a priority?
Sorry, folks. The overall thought on this subject is that Minden is lacking in this area. From fast food restaurants, to other service industries — we are not known as “exceptional” in the area of customer service.
While this isn’t necessarily true for all, it is nonetheless the perception. On Facebook, the Minden Walmart garners 3.4 out of 5 stars. Our McDonald’s? 2.9 stars. Reading the comments associated with those scores tell a disturbing story.
“I have yet to get an answer from anything I have ask (sic) workers (at Walmart). I hate to see them congregating in every dept. talking about personal stuff…”
“Higher (sic) someone with a better attitude to take orders through the drive through (at McDonald’s). I won’t spend another dime here!”
I am not picking on these two. They are just are our two major national chain establishments in town. I personally am thankful to have them both in Minden. These are not my comments, but those by others — and they disturb me. Sadly, there are plenty of similar comments.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of businesses earning 5 stars. But it would be naive to think we’ve got this customer service thing down pat.
This weekend, however, we can really take some steps in the right direction. As our visitors arrive, we should make them feel as important as they are to our economy. We should show them what hospitality is all about.
From the hotels to the restaurants, we need to be better than we are, and perhaps better than we’ve ever been. I would like to challenge the businesses and other entities in Minden to gather their team members and make it known that this weekend, we will be the Minden we want others to see.
This weekend can be the beginning of a Minden that truly is “the friendliest city in the South.”
If we pull this off, it could be the beginning of great things. People return to places where they are treated well. So gear up and get ready. The time is now.
Smiles, everyone. Smiles.
David Specht is president of Specht Newspapers, Inc. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.