I have no hesitation at all rewarding great customer service. And excellent customer service is just what I got at a restaurant recently.

I was at an airport in between flights when I stopped in to a Legal Seafoods restaurant for a drink and a bite to eat. As I approached the bar, the bartender tossed a towel over his shoulder and greeted me with a smile. He handed me a menu and asked me what I’d like to drink.

The Switch

As I was thinking, he grabbed my white napkin roll-up filled with utensils – never losing eye contact – and his hand magically goes under the bar to switch out my white napkin for a black napkin.

Confused, I said, “Wait – hold on! What did you just do? Why did you switch out my napkin?”

“We have lots of business travelers visit and many are wearing dark clothes,” he said. “Our standard white napkins leave lint on pants and dresses, but we know the black ones don’t. I noticed you were wearing a dark suit, so I grabbed one of the black napkins we keep on standby for situations just like yours.”

Boom! Excellent service! The genius part of this whole scenario is that the whole process has been hardwired into how this restaurant does business.

It’s become what my team and I call an “Always Play” in their restaurant Playbook.

It isn’t just one employee switching out napkins. They’ve built an entire process or “play” so that every team member is empowered to provide the same level of service.

We might not always know what’s going to happen (emergency situations, etc.) But, there are many things we can proactively anticipate and record in our department playbook so we can be ready to deliver great service.

Suffice to say, I enjoyed my drink and my meal and I left a generous tip for my new friend.