on hospitality

on hospitality
January 17, 2017 Summit Coffee
In Blog

by brian.

i make it a directive each winter, as december turns to january, to select a word of the year. a word to keep in my mind, a word to live by, a word to live out. and, because my personal life and my summit life are so intertwined, the word needs to work for all things. in 2016, that word was patience, and it proved to be a prescient decision with all that the year would have in store for me.

hospitality. the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. often synonymous with friendliness, kindness, warmth.

that’s where i landed for 2017. it has always been a hallmark of the summit coffee experience, and likewise, i have always made it a priority in my life as a whole. but as things grow, and get busier, and more crowded — both physically and mentally — it’s hard to keep a focus on great hospitality. we, as a summit team, have had weeks and months of creating a remarkable hospitable environment. “it’s just like ‘cheers,'” some will say, while others call our basecamp location “davidson’s living room.”

and, as things flow they also ebb. i’m aware that we’ve had stretches of unremarkable hospitality. of colder-than-necessary greetings, shorter-than-necessary conversations, and smaller-than-necessary smiles. early in 2016, frankly, our hospitality was ebbing. so while summit was growing, in terms of staff and revenues and brand recognition, our focus on the homefront was waning.

here we are, mid-january 2017, and i want you to know we’re aware. of all of this. hospitality is a focus of mine this year, and thus a focus of summit’s. it’s our commitment to making our cafes inviting and our interactions thoughtful. with this in mind, we crafted a three-part company mission statement:

  • to deliver a memorable experience, serving remarkable products in a warm environment.
  • to sustain a positive work environment that empowers individual growth and fosters collaboration.
  • to create vibrant and meaningful places within our communities.

we’re fortunate to have a terrific team leading the hospitality front, and it starts with courtney spear, our director of engagement. most people know courtney from the davidson farmers market, or from our food operations. courtney’s focus in 2017 within the summit family, however, will be to engage both staff and customers and bring flow back to our hospitality. courtney has worked with evan and me to develop a new hospitality course that all of our current employees will take in the coming weeks.

as we head into 2017, we want to share with you what our goals are going forward. this is one of many, but perhaps number one of all. for those of you who continue to have great hospitality experiences, we strive to make those even more meaningful. and for those of you who may have had some worse-than-expected interactions at summit, please trust that we’re aware and we’re focused on it.

here’s to hospitality. here’s to warmth, to smiles, to conversation and appreciation. here’s to you. here’s to 2017.

Comments (9)

  1. Michael Griggs 2 years ago

    Here’s to 2017. Hospitality. A good way to stand apart from other coffee serving establishments.

  2. Jeanne 2 years ago

    Getting my coffee at Summit each (way too early) morning makes getting up worthwhile! Greeting the pre-dawn regulars and the ever delightful baristas is the BEST. I love that the baristas know who I am (and, amazingly, know what I drink) and they seem genuinely glad to see me. And that they laugh at my horrible attempts at making the unknown trivia answer funny. It’s also Calliope’s favorite place, after Fisher Farm.

  3. Maureen 2 years ago

    Phenomenal post and perspective. With growth comes growing pains, and it’s always a struggle to keep those invisible to customers. But with transparency — your commitment to improve — comes grace from customers like me who love our time in Davidson’s warmest living room. I’ve never considered going somewhere else, even when the smiles were smaller. Now I just want to do my part to help those smiles grow. Thanks for the pep talk!

  4. Michelle 2 years ago

    Am glad you have picked up on the ebb. Have really missed the flow. It had been so long since I received a warm greeting or a Batista who wanted to make sure my drink was to my liking that I stopped going. Courtney is very much missed at the Farmer’s Market. You are lucky to have her.

  5. Susan 2 years ago

    I have watched and experienced the growth of Summit over the past 8 years and, believe me, the quality of the coffee and the experience have greatly improved during those years. I look forward to each visit to Summit and miss it when I leave town. This hospitality commitment is another step forward. Bravo!!

  6. Coffee Lover 2 years ago

    I hope the courses and staff changes work out long term. I’ve been coming to Summit for 10 years and the place looks better and offers more now than ever before. But if I’m being honest, the staff is overdue for a customer service tune up. I actually stop/don’t stop for coffee based on who is working the register. Also, I’ve noticed the same staff I often avoid are usually at the register when the line is longer (hint hint). Courtney waited on me the other day and asked all the right questions and said the right things that some of your staff miss. Not wordy, just the right words. It is possible to be efficient and friendly. I hope this is long term cultural change at Summit. I love the location and the vibe, but when you are the only coffee shop in town you should aspire to make sure you could survive if you weren’t the only coffee shop in town.

  7. Bob 2 years ago

    Along with hospitality can please make sure your tea bags are nice and full? I have a buddy who always complains about the size of his sack.
    Here’s to 2017!!

  8. G 2 years ago

    Great to hear! Several times last year I considered initiating an email to management regarding the “prickley” vibes I received upon every visit. Staffers seemed to have a strong eversion to smiling, eye contact, cheerfulness and friendly engagement. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong and it certainly wasn’t welcoming. I started sending my business across the parking lot. I’m glad to hear this was recognized and efforts have been made to enhance the “warm and fuzzies.”

  9. Denise 2 years ago

    I’m so happy to hear this! I haven’t been as often as I’d like because of the now known obvious. I will for sure become more frequent, knowing that I will feel welcome again. You have the best coffee in the area and I’ve so missed it. Thank you for sharing this article and know that it means alot to myself and I am sure many others.

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