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Tag Archives: Soup

Its the Customers Stupid!!!

0 Comments 11 July 7:42

After almost 4 years you would think we would get it.  You would think we would have lines out the door by now and raving reviews all around.  Most the surveys say how good the food is and how we pay attention to the detail.  But there is one minor thing we overlooked during the cooking process.  The main ingredient……THE CUSTOMER – YOU.  There I said it.  Ok back to making more soup….  No really they never talk about the customer experience in Engineering classes (degree in Industrial Engineering UCF ’94).  They talk about waste, processes, quality, profit, but they don’t really mention the customer a lot.  So in the beginning, we thought if the food was really good, people would put up with slow check outs, under performing staff, slow wait times etc.  We actually thought that Soup Nazi guy was a real operation.  Man, were we wrong.   We alienated our core customer, we did everything wrong that all the Restaurant shows like Restaurant Impossible, Stakeout, etc would tell you.  We didn’t do it because we are mean spirited or because we didn’t care we did it because we were clueless.  Its not saying that we didn’t offer good service by accident but we weren’t passionate about great service.  We sided with bad service and the excuses.  If a server complained about a customer we would side with them and blame the customer.  If orders took too long we would blame the small kitchen, excuse after excuse, we became the excuse.

As we entered out 4th year we realized something has to change.  We can’t keep creating amazing food while service lacked.  We couldn’t just keep finding new customers.  We couldn’t allow servers to do it their way because we were failing.  Business was down almost 30-40%, it got a little scary because employees were raising eyebrows.  We actually thought about going fast casual counter service with no servers.  Customers were not coming back and something had to give.  So over the course of the last 3 months, we cleaned house.  New servers were hired, new training programs were put into place.   I got out of the kitchen and into the front of the house, serving a few tables from time to time to evaluate the experience.   Secret shoppers were brought in, cameras were watched closer, the kitchen got additional instruction on expediting, the menu changed.  We essentially did an operational overhaul.  What were realized was that service, customer satisfaction is as important if not more important as how good our Cuban Sandwich tastes or how good the Chili is because at the end of the day all that matters is how many people walk through that door or how often the phone rings.

As these changes slowly took form an interesting thing happened.  Sales started to inch up, the phone rang a little more, lunch started to buzz and customers started becoming vocal as they started to realize a service revolution was talking form.  They mattered.  They had a voice.   So now we are relentless on getting it right.  In staff meetings we talk about body language, we talk about wowing the customer.  Going above and beyond is more important, and finally the quality of the food and the quality of the service is neck in neck.  We are not going to be perfect every time but if we are perfect 9 out 10, the momentum on the side of great!

So I leave you with a little story and note that was left behind today.  during a very busy lunch as the phone is blowing up and orders are flying across the room and people are finding their way back to the local offices an Asian couple sits at table #6 and quietly eat their meal without saying much.  I notice them as I drift from table to table.  I walk right up to the lady and I ask how was everything?  as I see the lobster chowder and the broccoli and cheese  barely touched.  She quietly says, its ok.  Not an answer I wanted to hear.  I prod a bit and she says I am sure its very good but its not the kind of food we are used to eating.  As I look at their order I realize they ordered cream based soups and judging by her accent I realized they are probably used broth based soups.  So I immediately say give me 10 minutes I will be back.  I run back into the kitchen with no pos ticket in hand (breaking a big rule) and start making a Miso Happy soup for them.  Mammas Chicken broth, miso paste, veggies, rice noodles, spices, soy sauce, sesame oil, more spices… almost done.  I look up and every cook is looking at me pretty pissed by now as I jumped ahead of orders and not offering to help them a big no no in the back of the house.  As the soup boils, I pull it off into a bowl, two spoons and back on the table in 9 minutes.  They smile as I say will back to check on you in a few minutes.  As I come back they are smiles ear to ear, they say they missed this on our menu and how much they appreciated what was done for them.  As they left they wrote this message for me in appreciation for the efforts and their lunch.  I think of nothing greater than an international traveler sharing an invitaion to their country for some hospitality.  This is what great service is all about, this is our new battle cry, our new benchmark.  So the next time you come in, expect the best you deserve it!

~ Soupman

 

a chinese couple writes a few words

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And NOW… the rest of the story…

A few months ago we met Dave Tyler… he heads up several foundations focused on charity work… Dave is affiliated with Danny Glover and he mentions Quinton.  Now how many Quintons out of LA that come to mind?  Quinton Tarantino jumps to mind… Pulp Fiction races and all the Reservior Bar across the street from Stone Soup… How perfect would that be??  Well as the Soupman works 24/7 super tired he miscommunicates with Dave Tyler(I swear I said Tarantino)  and as Dave says Quinton is coming from LA all is set…. Not quit.  Its Quinton Aaron he was talking about!!  Quinton Aaron is big star… got his break with Sandra Bullock as he played Big Mike.  So when the day came and the table was set we see no other than a 6’8″ man walking up and not the other Quinton…We really enjoyed meeting Mr Aaron and he was a lot of fun.  He is doing some amazing  work with Childhood bullying and he told us he was actually bullied as a kid… What a great day!  I am sorry for misinforming on the Quintons and will be more careful on the celebrity checks.   Hope you enjoy a chuckle at my expense!!

giving cup #23200 and meeting Quinton Aaron

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Cause Marketing and 50,000 cups

0 Comments 23 February 15:12

By now most of have heard of our “2 campaign” ~ the match.  Where we match one cup of soup sold for a soup that is given away to homeless Tampa Bay charities.  We believe this effort, it is not religious based, not politically motivated, we do not ask for any funds, nor are we a non-profit.  As a matter of fact we are a for profit small restaurant that has finally started to turn a slight profit after three years.  So as we have given away about 23,000 cups of soup to Tampa Bay Harvest we have noticed an interesting trend.  As we grow we are asked for more… we are asked to support other efforts, other charities and those in need.  Also it would be great to help everyone, if are ever going to get to 50,000 cups its going to require The Stone Soup Company to stay focused and diligent.  

So we have said NO to all efforts that do not contribute to our goal and mission.  In doing this we have upset some folks because they do not understand what it is we are trying to accomplish.  We have even lost some friends :( Many of these events are a group of food services or restaurants that give out samples of their foods for free in an effort to showcase themselves.  A fee is charged or tickets are sold to the general public.  We think these events are great they raise money for the charity and they do bring some light on a restaurant trying to get but we just chose not to participate in 2013.  We are focused on bring the best product to the restaurant and bring our new food truck on the road as well as working with Tampa Bay Harvest.

Thanks for all your support to our little restaurant.  Follow our story and find ways to make your workplace or business a stone soup.  Share your services, excess products with those in need and you find benefits beyond your belief. 

Peace, 

Soupman

Early pictures of our efforts….

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Memorial Day and Justine Gaertner

Memorial Day and Justine G

Justine Gaertner Gspot sandwich

gaertner

I have never met Justine Gaertner but I understand he is a pretty incredible guy.  He comes from Trinity, FL as I understand and he serves our country as a Marine.  In Afghanistan, as he was serving our country he lost both his legs.  I was approached to see if there is anything that The Stone Soup Company could do to shed some light on Justine and his heroism.  We decided to create a sandwich in his honor with items that he likes, give a nickname to him, and possibly make small donations from the sandwich back to him or a charity.  We rarely name anything after anyone, I think the only thing on the menu is Mark’s Lasagna but when you have been making a Lasagna for 20 years you gotta have your name on it…  When I was asked about this sandwich, without hesitation I said YES.  We need to honor our military and active men and women in uniform and why not put a face and a name on the service they provide.  It can be Justine’s Sandwich but it stands for anyone that has given the ultimate sacrifice or been wounded.  The best part as we roll out our new POS system we will be able to track the sales of this sandwich and we will commit to giving 10% of all sales to Justine or the Charity of his choice.

 

The sandwich will be somewhat like a buffalo chicken wrap, some blue cheese dressing, slaw as an option and tomatoes  and turkey or pork bacon on a gyro… We went with gyro because it sounds a lot like hero.. Justine’s nickname is G-spot so we are calling it the g-spot sandwich for a little shock value and my name starts with a G so it all ties together.. no other references should be implied.  Price point will be $8.99 with roughly $.90 being donated.

 

I look forward to meeting Justine in the next week or two and I hope that all Veterans can rejoice in a day like today where the nation takes a moment to honor them.

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Restaurant Hours

M: 10 am – 9 pm
T: 10 am – 9 pm
W: 10 am – 9 pm
R: 10 am – 9 pm
F: 10 am – 11 pm
S: 10 am – 11 pm
S: 11am – 6 pm

Stone Soup Company YBor City