I love pointing out companies that train well, and the Corner Bakery Cafe is clearly one of those companies. A few months ago, I went to coffee at the Corner Bakery Cafe in Bozeman, MT. My co-workers and I noticed there were a lot of staff working; I mean a LOT – 20 to 30 employees at least. Well, it turned out that it was opening day and the staff was half trainers and half new employees.
Let me stop a second and make sure you didn’t miss that: it was HALF trainers. Talk about support! The trainers all wore a common shirt color that was different from the new staff. Throughout our time there, we saw many support conversations between the two groups, with trainers even pulling staff out to the dining room to sit down and go over different concepts. The interactions were very interesting to watch.
Fast forward to this week. I returned for the first time since opening day. It was immediately clear this staff had their act together. The store wasn’t just clean – it was close to spotless. Even the station where customers put sugar and cream in their coffee was wiped down and free from marks or stains. The staff at the counter gave warm, friendly, genuine greetings as my co-workers and I approached and quickly worked to take our order. The interaction between my co-workers and their staff was peppered with smiles, laughs, helpful suggestions, and assurances that the food/drinks ordered would be good.
As we sat down in the dining room, food and drinks came out quickly, with a smile and a thank you from the staff. One person didn’t get her bagel and two staff separately apologized and worked to get her replacement. Even the Assistant Manager stopped by to make sure everything was taken care of.
Based only on what I could observe, here is what I see the company did right:
- They hire great people – it all starts with that.
- They recognize exceptional customer service is critical in the food industry and make sure their staff delivers.
- When they open a store, they bring in a ton of training support for the new staff.
- The trainers clearly make sure the staff is ready to uphold the brand before leaving.
- Management continues to support the training and reinforce the company’s concepts of customer service.
Now, lest I over-inflate any egos, there is something upon which they can improve. Bozeman is a town FULL of gluten and dairy free folks. Every major restaurant in town has gluten and dairy free options, and most even have bread (even the truck stop on the interstate!) When I asked for dairy free options in a latte, the cashier had no clue what I was talking about. Kudos to the Manager who heard the question and jumped in right away to help. In this town, gluten and dairy free should be a major training point.
Overall, fantastic job Corner Bakery Cafe! Thank you for setting the bar high. Your excellence is a good reminder to all the training departments out there to do their jobs superbly and always seek ways to improve.
Next week I’ll discuss how to replicate this process in other industries.