Today I was a little bit saddened. The place I have been going to for quite a while, the one that had great Reuben sandwiches, repeated a mistake they had previously rectified (see The Right Thing Is Smart).

Today my sandwich was overdone and the bread was hard and rubbery… the normal care and attention to details was not there. Now to be honest, the last few have not been that consistent.

Because I have been going there pretty regularly for several years I can’t help but feeling betrayed somehow, especially considering my previous experience. The owner/operator had to have known it was not right, but they were distracted by a phone call with their accountant and it was close to closing time and they decided it would suffice.

Now I still happen to like the owner/operator of the place so I have no intention of naming names but rather to look at what might be going on.

I suspect that the owner has fallen into the entrepreneurial trap. They were working in the business and not on it. After doing this for several years with little change and not a lot of opportunity for increasing the payoff, they became burned out. Little details like customer experience and consistency don’t seem as important as you struggle to get the big things in line.

Unfortunately, this hastens the departure of your customers which increases your stress which leads you to further disassociate from your customers.

If this is happening to you, then you have two choices:

  1. Do nothing different and end up burned out AND with a failed business.
  2. Change your behaviour to change the outcome.

Be realistic. If all you have is a job with no upside, you don’t have a business. If you have a business, treat it like that is your job and work on it.

Most importantly, change your attitude. If customers and your business aren’t the most important things when you show up to work, try something else.

We’ve been in business now for 8.5 years. I understand how this can happen as almost every business goes through cycles and we’ve been through some tough ones. But you need to at least enjoy the journey and a journey means going somewhere or at least the potential of getting somewhere (have you ever been stuck in an airport?).

For now I think I will be going elsewhere for my sandwich, at least until I hear things have improved. Maybe the Reuben sandwiches will become great again and maybe my journey will take me back there, I hope so.

In the meantime I will be working on my business and trying to enjoy every day, even when things are not perfect.