THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Jill's list




At the rear of The Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Bristol is a huge former kiln, now converted into a rotunda restaurant of the same name.


Jill is the restaurant manager at The Kiln for the breakfast session.


Jill has a list.


It's a combination of many sheets printed out from the booking system to illustrate which residents have and have not pre-paid for their breakfast - together with Jill's own list - a hastily constructed affair that consists of blocks of tables on a blank sheet, one table for each half hour of the morning.


So as not to avoid overcrowding, there are only so many cells in each table for each half hour.


When Jill has written the names of each guest in a cell, and when the table of cells is full, so is the restaurant.


So when you arrive at the door of the restaurant, Jill asks you a question:


"What time did you reserve for breakfast?"


It's a clever system, designed to avoid congestion.


There are, however, a number of problems with Jill's system:

  • The FOH team have forgotten to ask guests what time they would like to reserve their breakfast when they arrive at the hotel;

  • If a guest is staying more than one night, there is no way of knowing what happens from morning #2 onwards;

  • If guests are arriving early for a conference and want breakfast, they are not on the list.

That being the case, what we need to establish here is what's important.


It's not hotel visitors paying over the odds for a very average breakfast in comfort and at their leisure.


What's important is Jill's list.


Jill has clearly been at the hotel for a very long time.


Jill is clearly irritated by the host of new employees around her who don't know Jill's system.


Jill became irritated when a guest asked to pay for breakfast at their table.


Jill doesn't have a system for guests paying at their table - the only place they can pay for their breakfast is back at reception.


Jill is annoyed when you arrive and your name isn't on her list, even though you have pre-paid breakfast in your room rate.


Jill has to thumb through the printed sheets to discover where you are and why you are not on her list.


When she has found your name on the computer print out, Jill asks you:


"What time did you reserve for breakfast?"


When you explain that nobody in the hotel has ever asked you what time you reserved for breakfast, Jill looks at you as if you have just failed a primary school maths test.


Jill then looks at the remaining blank cells on her table and begrudgingly writes your name on her list, before asking one of the waitresses to escort you to an area of the restaurant that has clearly been designated for people who have spoiled Jill's system.


Have a nice day.


But don't mess with Jill.






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