During a recent interview I heard the candidate say “I’ve gone the extra mile”. It got me thinking. What does it really mean to go the Extra Mile? Is it even relevant in the modern workplace?
To explain my thoughts I need to go back to my high school and university days. I worked part time in the local pizza shop, Il Tempio. I started when I was 15 and stopped working when I got my first full time job. About 7 years all up! I worked Thursday through to Sunday. 4pm to 10pm on Thursdays and Sundays, and 4pm to Midnight on Friday and Saturday. During this time, I didn’t miss a beat, I loved it, and sometimes I even yearn to go back to that time.
The pizza shop was a 50 seat suburban Italian Restaurant with 3 waiters, a chef, cook, a pot scrubber, 2 pizza cooks and one person on the cash register. Fridays and Saturdays were crazy busy! My first job there was on the cash register, which, on reflection, was a big responsibility for a 15 year old.
I then moved up to making pizzas, which is fun, but hard when you are making 250+ in one night. These were the days before delivery. On Fridays and Saturdays it was 20 deep waiting for takeaway pizzas. This included people trying to order and people waiting. You had to walk through the takeaway area to get to the restaurant. Again, crazy busy. This was normal for me for 7 years.
The success of the restaurant, on reflection, was largely due to myself and the other two pizza cooks (ok, the food was really good too…). Why? Because we greeted everyone; we were never grumpy at our customers or each other, we joked, we laughed and we were always in the moment. By this I mean we never lost sight of the customer, the customer waiting for his small margarita at $4.20 or large capriccioso at $14.80. I’d like to think that people had a positive experience when they came in.
This is why I’m bemused by the words “going the extra mile” in a service industry. I’m not sure how you actually go the extra mile? Especially in a service industry don’t we give it all we’ve got? This is what we look for in our staff and ourselves. Our customers appreciate that we care as much about them as we care about ourselves. Love and Passion are strong and often over used words, but I’d like to think in our business we come close.
Leo and Gerry from Il Tempio, the lessons I learnt and the impact you had on my life and my view of what it means to provide customer service has been insurmountable.