The Service Industry needs more Antonio
Prime the pump
August 8, 2023

The Service Industry needs more Antonio

A couple weeks ago, after being left stranded at the airport by InterCaribbean Airways enroute to a mini vacation, my travel pals and I set out on a staycation in the Grenadines.

We first encountered Antonio at dinner on night one. I could tell from her gestures that she was tired and was experiencing discomfort in her feet. When she brought the menu to our table, she asked if we would like some water and we all accepted. “No ice please,” I said. However, when she returned with the water, there was ice in mine. “I said no ice please,” I reminded her. She was very apologetic and returned with a glass of room temperature water.

I peeked at the menu and there were no seafood options. “There’s no seafood options for dinner?” “No, but the chef said we’ll have fish tomorrow.’’ A lousy breakfast at another hotel earlier compounded the let down by InterCaribbean Airways, so to arrive at a small luxury hotel where the only no meat option for dinner was veggie wrap didn’t sit well with me.

With great reluctance, I ordered the veggie wrap. While we waited for dinner, our waitress returned with bread. “Is white bread the only option?” I asked. “Yes, but you should have wheat in the morning.” I was not happy. We were paying luxury price for what I expect you’ll find at a cook shop.

The waitress probably thinks I am miserable, I said to my pals and eventually I expected her to show her annoyance but instead, the more I queried, the more attentive and willing to please Antonio became and the more apologetic. She made several visits to our table, apologized for the inconvenience, and asked if we were okay. At the end of the evening, although we rated the meals an ‘F’, we gave Antonio an ‘A’ for attitude. We concluded that despite being disappointed with dinner that Antonio deserved a tip.

The following morning, Antonio was our waitress for breakfast. I asked about her working hours; it was then she indicated that she worked a double shift yesterday. I realized that during the time that I was fussing over dinner she was on her second shift and could have easily been cranky and irritable, but instead, she behaved as though she had a relaxing day and couldn’t be fazed by anything. During breakfast, Antonio demonstrated that she listened to me the night before, she remembered no ice and served me wheat bread. She was consistently attentive and very apologetic on behalf of her team throughout our stay. Not once did she separate herself from the establishment and blame anyone else. Antonio was the highlight of our visit to the dining room and after every encounter she was rewarded for her professionalism and her excellent service.

Minda Zetlin in an Inc article titled 7 Reasons the Best Leaders Treat Their Employees Like Customers |, shared insight from Ravin Gandhi, co-founder and CEO of GMM Nonstick Coatings, on why their company makes sure to treat its employees the same way it treats its best customers. Here is an excerpt from the article:

1. You’ll never be tempted to take employees for granted because “without their commitment to produce for clients, companies won’t stay in business, or at least won’t be as successful as they want to be.”

2. You’ll have better insight. “By checking in frequently, you may also uncover a bigger issue happening in the organization, such a poor-performing manager who has been leading top producers to quit.”

3. You’ll serve your customers better. “Unhappy staff leads to disengagement, which leads to poor productivity and sales.”

4. You’ll get buy-in. “When they trust their manager and the company’s leadership team, staff will produce more, and want to learn and become better.”

5. If you’re a startup, you need employees to bet on you just as investors do.

6. They’ll stick by you in tough times. “When you have built loyalty with your team, they will be willing to stay and work harder to get to the light at the end of the tunnel.”

7. You’ll be able to scale better. The happier your people are, the fewer of them will leave–and the faster you can grow.”