This is a revised version of a blog post written by Pete Saari, our CEO, in 2013:
As much as I would like to be a foodie, I’ve never been recognized for my refined palate. My dining take-aways tend to be very experiential. In other words, I rarely leave restaurants thinking, “Wow, that was the best steak I’ve ever had.” More often, I leave thinking it was too warm in there, too loud in there, the seats were too close or I wasn’t totally digging how the waitress called me honey.
I was recently dining with a group of friends at what probably wasn’t a 5-star restaurant but, by pricing standards, certainly a 4-star. They had separate food and wine menus—that’s classy.
In the middle of our main course, the waiter stopped by our table to see how we were doing. He waited until he had our attention then asked, “Is everything okay?”
The wording struck me. That’s because I thought okay was a pretty low standard to set for how our dining experience was going. Would he have been satisfied if I had replied, “Meh, it’s okay?” Did he know that my standard for okay generally means no one spills anything on me and I don’t get Salmonella? To me, that’s okay. But this restaurant seemed like it should be doing better than okay. I wondered if in their pre-dinner huddle, the restaurant manager told his staff to get out there and be average? I could hear it play in my head, “Let’s make sure everyone has an ordinary dining experience with us tonight.”
The restaurant manager and owner probably wouldn’t want their customers to be okay, but rather they’d want them to be thrilled. What if instead of asking “Is everything okay,” the question was, “Is this the best freakin’ dining experience you’ve ever had and if not, what can I do to make it that way?”
The line between an okay and an exceptional experience can be rather small. In my case, it was drawn from the use, or misuse, of one word.
What kind of a parallel can we draw to the funeral industry? As a funeral professional, what kind of an impression are you making on the families who arrive at your door? Is it just okay? Or is it representing the caliber of service you’d expect for your own family? If you’re a supplier to the funeral industry, are you providing products that are just okay? Or are you constantly innovating, taking risks and working to ensure that the funeral industry is transforming with the changing needs of the population. In today’s competitive economy, okay just doesn’t cut it. Businesses that are thriving offer an experience that surpasses that of average.
So as you look at your own business, ask yourself, “Is everything okay?”
If it is, it’s probably time to change.–Pete Saari