London, Saturday, July 10th
It was the day of their departure. Marcia had one more morning full of meetings about new drugs, which were relevant for the pharmaceutical rm she worked for. Josh decided to go to Bread&Care one more time in order to read his book and relax a little before their flight back to New York.
When Josh ordered his second Matcha Latte, he saw Alison. She was having a meeting at the big table in the middle of the restaurant. When she saw him too, she waved and smiled. Josh smiled back and when the meeting ended he walked over to Alison.
“I just wanted to thank you once more for your time yesterday,” Josh said.
“You’re very welcome!” Alison said. “By the way, this is Paul, the store manager.”
Josh and Paul shook hands and Josh complimented Paul on the incredible experience he had had over the past four days. “I have learned so much,” Josh said, “about relevance and about not compromising when it comes to delivering the desired customer experience. And about hiring staff for who they really are!”
“Seems you had a good time indeed,” said Paul.
“Josh has a bookstore to which he can apply much of what we do at Bread&Care,” Alison said. “Then you might also wish to meet Nicole, our regional L&D manager,“ suggested Paul.
“You really have a different vocabulary,” Josh said. “Do you mean learning and development?” “You got it,” Paul said.
“And last night I also heard Alison talking about your support office. What is that exactly?” asked Josh.
Paul explained that each restaurant is supported by a team of specialists from the regional support office. “They support the store teams in their region.”
“Wouldn’t most companies call them head office?” Josh asked.
“Guess so,” said Paul. “But we’re not most companies,” he added with a smile. “We work with a so-called inverted organization chart.”
“What do you mean?” Josh asked.
“Most companies work with a hierarchy where the board is at the top, followed by several layers of VPs, regional heads, operational managers, and supervisors. At the bottom, you will typically find the frontline staff, whereas these very same companies generally consider guests to be on top of the pyramid since they, ultimately pay the check. In reality, not many board members get to serve guests, nor do they help them with operational matters. That’s why we have inverted the pyramid. The guest is, of course, still on top, followed by our CAREmakers, who are most important for our guests.
“So there is a hierarchy?” asked Josh.
“There’s certainly a hierarchy, but it’s inverted,” Paul explained. “Every layer in the organization provides a service to the level above them.”
Josh realized he didn’t work with VPs and directors at Just Books. Yet for every client who bought a book, or was looking for information, the sales assistant helping out was the most important person of Just Books at that moment. In fact, every colleague, part-time or full-time, was one of Just Books’ CAREmakers, or needed to become one.
Josh then asked if there was any differentiation between part-timers and full-timers.
“Only in terms of how many hours they work,” Paul replied. “We believe we are all peers on the same mission. In fact, we don’t have a back of the house area, like most companies have. We have created a heart of the house. And our CAREmakers eat what our guests eat.”
“Which also makes it much easier to connect with your guests about the food in a natural manner,” Josh said.
“That’s the whole idea,” said Paul. “In this way, the staff will have much more knowledge about daily and weekly specials, which makes it so much easier to talk about them with genuine enthusiasm.”
Paul waved at a woman who had just walked in and then introduced Nicole to Josh as the Learning & Development Manager for the UK. Josh again explained how grateful he was for the memorable experiences in the restaurant and how much he had learned. Nicole explained they were just going to meet to talk about the new immersion program. Josh looked surprised.
“Another new concept,” he said. “What is an immersion program?”
“Well, after we have casted the roles of new CAREmakers we also need to make sure they really understand what we are about, and what, exactly, their roles will be” Nicole explained. “This is kind of a boot camp during which we immerse each of our new colleagues in the why, how, and what of our brand.”
“It is also about who we are as a company, and how CAREmakers can help bring this identity to life,” Whereby CARE stands for Connect, Assist, Recognize and Engage, in line with our experience blueprint. Paul added.
“Exactly,” said Nicole.
“Perhaps, you can show Josh our blueprint,” Paul suggested. “If you want, I can get it for you” he added.
“Super idea, yet we can only have a brief glance, gotta go again in 45 minutes…”
Josh suggested they forget about it so she could start her meeting, but Nicole said it would be a pleasure.
While showing the blueprint Nicole said, “We make sure all CAREmakers understand our philosophy. We already explain this during the casting event, whereby during the immersion, we take a deep dive into our why-that is our purpose-and who we are-our identity-and what good at Bread&Care looks like. We have de ned the experience we want our guests to have.”
“I can tell,” Josh said. “Your team really is engaging in a very consistent manner.”
“And then we explain in detail how the hosts can actually bring the desired experience to life through their behavior and the interactions they have. We have also de ned the working climate and leadership we intend to build, which should stimulate and facilitate the optimal host behavior and interaction,” Paul said.
Nicole nodded and continued, “We take them on an experience safari, so they learn how much impact employees have on their own experience as client or guest. We also train the CAREmakers on skills that are relevant. After all, most of the staff we hire have never worked in a restaurant before.” Again it struck Josh how much emphasis was placed on personality and attitude, rather than on skills. “How long does an immersion program last?” Josh asked.
“Prior to the opening of the restaurant, about two weeks. After an opening, new co-workers will be immersed in a shorter time. After the first restaurants were open we initially didn’t do casting and immersion of new CAREmakers, but we quickly learned this was an important reason for our success. The connection between our team and guests was and always will be key. Our CAREmakers make or break the experience,” Nicole concluded.
After the meeting with Nicole, Josh again made several notes. At moments like this, he was very grateful he had his mom’s photographic memory. He quickly drew the experience blueprint he had just seen:
Josh had already made plans about how he could apply the lessons from Bread&Care at Just Books. A critical decision he had to make was to rename the store. Maybe to ‘Books&More,’ he was thinking.
He and Marcia had a lot to talk about on the way home…