This past week I had the pleasure of attending the Orange Conference in Atlanta with some of our ministry team. We had a great time of refreshment, learning, and challenges. We also had a great time just having adventures together.
On the way home we decided to stop for dinner fairly soon after leaving the conference to let some of the traffic clear out. I looked up places to eat on my restaurant app on my phone and one that popped up was the Suwanee Diner. Everyone loved the idea of going to a diner. Images popped into our heads of a jukebox, fun booths, burgers and fries, and of course, we would have to top it all off with a float or milkshake, right? I imagined that a little old lady with a nametag that said “Bernice” would take our order while managing several other tables at the same time.
The reviews were good and the menu on the website looked like we could all find something yummy for supper. So we put the address in the gps and off we went!
We pulled up to a rather non-descript building with a sign that said “Suwanee Diner”, so we knew we were in the right place.
The door was propped open, but when we walked in it looked nothing like we were expecting. They were in the middle of a remodel as we could see lots of sheetrock that had recently been hung. We started to turn around when a little Indian man zipped out from the back and assured us that they were open for business. There were lots of tables, but no other customers in the restaurant. We were given a yellow menu with lots of type, but no pictures. There was a chalkboard on the wall that listed the specials as Beef Liver and mash potato (sic) and Curried Chicken and Rice. For dessert there was baklava. Instead of a jukebox, there was a flat screen computer playing 80s music on Pandora.
I asked to use the little girls room. They said I was welcome to use it, but the sink had not been installed yet, so I would have to come behind the counter to wash my hands. We meandered down this dark hallway and the little man flipped on light switches as we wandered through the maze to the little girl’s room. He told the truth – there was no sink installed so I made my way back to the area behind the counter to wash my hands. There was no soap at the sink behind the counter. Kay saved the day with a hotel soap she had packed in her bag.
Despite it all, we made the best of the circumstances and had a few laughs. The food was surprisingly tasty – although no one ordered the “specials”. The server was attentive – which wasn’t too difficult since we were the only customers the whole time we were there. That being said – I kinda doubt I would make a return trip to the Suwanee Diner. I was really looking forward to a milkshake. Sad day.
I started thinking about how that experience relates to church. In today’s world folks can check us out online before ever showing up to our campus. We put our best foot forward in our pictures and videos on our website. It is vital that we don’t disappoint our guests by giving them an experience that is different from their expectations based on what they see on our website.
Are our rooms well-staffed with friendly team members? Are they clean? Are they uncluttered? Do they meet the expectations of the guests? Are our areas nicely decorated? Does it smell fresh and clean? Are we prepared for guests?
No one likes a bait and switch. It creates distrust. We need to be trustworthy in all we say and do. Because, like me, even though the visit ended up being okay, I won’t be going back.