Thoughts + Articles

First Watch Goes the Extra Mile

Does your business go the extra mile for your customers? What are the three traits you look for in your employees?

First Watch restaurant began serving breakfast and lunch in 1983 from 7am to 2:30 pm and is privately owned and has franchises. In 2015 there were 153 franchise restaurants in 18 states. Last weekend my husband and I met our family for breakfast at First Watch at 9 am in Newport News, VA. It was our fifth time at First Watch. We put our name on a wait list where there were thirty-one people in front of us in an already packed restaurant with happy customers eating breakfast. They had coffee set up for folks waiting to get in and several chairs and coaches to sit on.

With the thirty-one-people waiting, the wait staff used military precision to put the tables together and get the first twenty-five people seated and waited on, and then the other groups. They were prepared and did not leave anything to chance. They practiced and rehearsed to address these issues multiple times and were ready as their guests finished eating to immediately clean and reset the tables and get the new guests seated.

Twenty-five servicemen were a head of us. They were seated at 4 tables the staff quickly put together with silverware glasses, etc. They were then seated. Two waiters walked around and took orders. Meanwhile another party of six was also set up and were led to their table. Then it was our turn. We were seated by 9:15am and led to our table. The hostess saw the food on the chairs and went and got a soapy rag to clean it off.

We sat down and the table was set with everything you can think of. The energetic waiter came over with a smile and asked what beverages we wanted and also took our order for omelets, pancakes with vegetables and fruit. Our beverages arrived a few minutes later. Our waiter put a fresh pot of coffee and a pot of decaf on the table. Another waiter came by with a pitcher of water. Fifteen minutes later our hot breakfast arrived even though the restaurant continued to fill up with many waiting to be seated and served.

Every few minutes the waiter came by to check on us and asked if we wanted more coffee, juice, or any other beverages and asked how the food was.

Next to our table the customers had left and a different waiter cleared the table, wiped it off, and another brought clean silver ware, napkins, and cups.

First Watch’s wait staff cared and wanted to do a good job! The service staff was well “rehearsed and attentive” to details like a choreographed ballet. Everything was intentional. Nothing was left to chance.

What three things did the First Watch waiters and waitresses do to go the extra mile for their customers?

1) The waiters and waitresses had a positive attitude, smiled at their customers, and worked quickly and efficiently.

2) The wait staff immediately removed the dirty dishes after their customers left the table, then wiped the table, and set up the table with everything their customers needed.

3) Waiters /waitresses worked as a team. One brought a pitcher of ice tea or water; another brought coffee, another soda, another brought the food. Next to our table the customers had left and a different waiter cleared the table and cleaned it off, another brought the silver ware, napkins, and cups.

Don’t leave your customer service to chance. Plan your customer service expectations in advance and rehearse how you want it to be done with your staff. Your standards for hiring are clear.

What three traits do you look for in your employees?

1) You hire staff who have a proven track record for positive attitudes, are energetic, and are effective communicators who are passionate about the products you sell.

2) You hire staff that have a good work ethic (show up on time), are patient, and listen to what their customers need and want, and they work efficiently and pay attention to the details.

3) Your staff have a leadership service attitude, work well as a team with military precision, and are willing to pitch in when the need arises just as the hostess was willing to clean off the food on the chairs.

Where do you find your employees?

Keep your eyes and ears open for excellent team members for your business. Look for new opportunities.

First Watch “goes the extra mile” every time we visit and always has a line of people waiting to get in. By following First Watch’s model and rehearsing and practicing with your team members, your business will go the extra mile for your customers too! 

Madeline Frank, Ph.D. is an Best Selling Author, speaker, business owner, teacher, conductor, and concert artist. She helps businesses and organizations “Tune Up their Business”. Her observations show you the blue prints necessary to improve and keep your business successful. Her latest book “Leadership On A Shoestring Budget” is available everywhere books are sold. If you need a speaker contact Madeline at:

This entry was posted on Monday, February 19th, 2018 at 5:46 pm and is filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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