Submitted by Ray Blessman
A local watering hole in my community is part of a regional chain. The owners would bristle at the chain reference because they take great pride in the fact that each location is unique; none of the locations look alike and each management team influences the selection of draft beers they offer. They are progressive in terms of recycling, menu variety, etc. You definitely visit because of the feel, the excellent selection of fresh beer, and the fact that the menu has great and varied selections without being as thick as a 1979 Detroit phone book.
You don’t patronize them for their service, unfortunately. "Spotty" and "inconsistent" are fair assessments.
Having spent years focused on business operations, being an avid Food Channel watcher, and at that time the Duke on Yelp for this establishment, I have tried to figure out the root cause of the service issues. On more than one occasion I've observed the entire waitstaff and those working the host station huddled around an iPad; they appear to be using it to make decisions or maybe they're just trying to find info to help them decide what to do. They're clearly seeking direction from technology.
The thing is, it appears to me that they'd be better served by looking up from the iPad and out into the restaurant. But nobody appears to be empowered to do that. For example, when the table next to us gets seated after us, but receives their drinks before we are even acknowledged, an observant manager might step in to redirect priorities. Clearly the software on the iPad isn't tracking that info. Basic leadership appears to be lacking.
Technology can be a gamechanger, but until it is proven to be a capable replacement for human judgment, human leadership will continue to be in demand. And this works very well for me as I continue my job search.