Our Cook-out Experience

Imagine, if you will, that you have had a long day, and just as you are ready to call the day over, you get a phone call. It’s the client. The need you to get to another location – like NOW. Your first reaction is to find a hole and crawl into it because you just want to get some sleep. Your second, and more realistic, reaction is to get this done. Quickly. So, on Wednesday, JD Milazzo and I had one of those moments. By the time it was 2:30 PM, we needed to eat in addition to needing to sleep.

“Where do you want to eat?” I asked JD.

“I don’t know, man. What do you want?” When it comes to food, I want to put it in my mouth as quickly as I can, swallow, and get it over with.

“Your call.”

“Cook-out?” I knew JD would say that, and, I have to confess, that as soon as he said it, I just about lost my appetite.


It isn’t the food. For fast-food, it is really quite good. But, the experience? Well, no. Almost every time we eat at a Cook-out, I regret it. Here’s why – the last time, I ordered coleslaw as my side. I got the coleslaw, but no fork. I wasn’t able to wash my hands, which were quite dirty from a day on assignment, or, I would have used my fingers. And, they screwed up the iced tea. JD got half sweet – he wanted unsweetened – and I got totally sweet – I wanted half and half.

So, as we parked the car, I did what I could to prepare myself for yet another round of chaos.
JD and I got out of the car – it is easier and faster to walk to the window – and made out way to the front of the “restaurant.” Well, the order windows, apparently, weren’t order windows any longer. “What the????” I said as we turned to walk back to the car. No sign. No indication that the order window was closed. We had to figure it out.

Strike One.

OK, we get back in the car, drive into line, get to the loud speaker where we can place our order, and wait. “CAN I TAKE YOUR ORDER?” It is either the loudest speaker system in the world, or the human on the other end is screaming into the mic.

“We are going to order two trays,” I tell her, setting the stage for JD taking time to determine what he wants. I give her my order, and she repeats it accurately. “That’s half-sweet-half-unsweet,” I remind her. She seems to have gotten it. Then, impatiently, she reminds me that we ordered two trays. I assure her that – soon – JD will tell me what he wants. I pass JD’s order on to her. She repeats it. We are, in theory, good to go.

We are at the pay-for-your-food window, and, to save time, I have my Discover card in hand. She opens the window, I hand it to her. A second later, the window flies open, she extends her hand towards me. “We don’t take Discover.” Well, here’s the deal: That’s the company credit card.

“You don’t take Discover.” I wasn’t asking. I was in shock. “We don’t take Discover,” she repeats. Now, I have to release my seat belt, dig my hand in my pocket, pull out my wallet, and there are three other cars behind me, all, I am sure, wondering WTF I am doing…… Needless to say, my other credit card is buried in the back of my wallet…

Strike Two.

The transaction complete, we pull away. I am not happy, but I need to eat. I’m tired and that doesn’t help. JD picks up his tea and takes a long draw on the straw. “What is this?” he says as he winces.

“What’s the matter?” I ask, though I should know.

“It’s sweet.”

I pull over, pick up mine, it is also. Zero for Two.

Strike Three.

The bad taste in my mouth is now a very bitter taste. The experience, however good the food might be, has been destroyed. Still, I’m hungry. “Let’s pull over so we can eat.” JD agrees. We pull into the original parking place we had and open our lunches. I had ordered onion rings and fries as my sides. To my horror, I have four onion rings, and they are so small, I might as well have had one.

Will we got back to Cook-out when we are on the road? No time soon.

This isn’t the first time Cook-out got it wrong. In fact, I can’t remember the last time they got it right. However good their food is, it isn’t worth all the problems and I don’t need to get upset whenever I interact with them.

There’s a lot to learn here. A health brand draws customers to it. A health brand makes it easy to do business with them. A healthy brand gets your order right, if not every time, virtually every time. So, ask your self, or your clients, is it easy to do business with you? Do you get it right? Or, are you actually driving your clients away?