If “hugs” aren’t our business specialty, then what is?

Tims PlaceMeet Tim Harris. He owns his own restaurant — where hugs are on the menu! The sign says, “Tim’s Place: Breakfast, lunch and hugs!” Tim sums up his philosophy of being a restauranteur — and life: “Food is food. I give them a hug and then they all feel better!”

Tim has down syndrome. He begins each day at 5:30am, completes his morning routine and is off to work around 7:00am each day. He typically does a “dance off” across the parking lot to prepare himself for the day ahead. Greetings guests at the door with a hug — you can see the joy he gets from serving people food — and from giving a little bit of love!

The Albuquerque restaurant calls itself “the world’s friendliest restaurant!” And as Tim says, “We serve breakfast lunch and hugs: hugs are the best part!” Check out this short video that tells their special story.

Owning a restaurant has been a lifetime dream for Tim. When he was 14 years old, he said he wanted to own a restaurant. He graduated high school and earned college certificates after which, his family helped him pursue his dream.

In its own unique way, Tim’s Place has created an environment customers flock to. Yes, they can order food there but it’s the hugs that keep them coming back.

So what about your organization or business? What is it known for? And perhaps an even more important question, “Is that what you want it to be known for?” If you haven’t given these questions much thought, it is a strategic issue that will impact every decision you make.

So consider these items:
• Do you want to be known for innovation? Then how forgiving is your culture to allow employees to make mistakes as they try new ideas?
• Do you want to have a reputation as customer-focused? Then how you does your employee selection process differ from your competitors?
• Do you want customers to describe your quality above all else? Then what emphasis is placed on continuous improvement on every aspect of daily operations?
• Do you want to be known for your service? Then how to do you ensure every employee shares your understanding of service expectations? And what happens of these expectations are not met.

What is great about Tim’s Place and its gift of hugs each day is how Tim leads the effort. You see, at the end of the day, your organization’s consumer reputation ultimately begins with its leaders. So where to begin? I think we can benefit from Tim’s example and embrace the challenge.

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