The Parable of “O’Charleys” Restaurants and Solid Edge

O’Charleys is a restaurant chain based out of Nashville TN that I used to do a lot of work for. In years gone by they had franchise holders and one of them owned a store on University Drive in Huntsville not far from SE’s headquarters. And it is this store where this story began.

My wife had been a server at O’C’s for a while and I had worked on probably over a hundred of their stores by then. We were very familiar with the standards that were supposed  to be in place for service and hygiene. At that time they had the best Prime Rib you could buy and so we decided to go to this store for a meal.

Well we get in there and sit and wait. For quite a long time actually before the waitress could be bothered to approach us. In the mean time I go to the restroom and come back out with a bit of disgust as I tell my wife what a foul smelly cheap bar place it was. Still no yeast rolls and these were supposed to be quickly presented according to corporate policy. None was ready it seems and so the waitress could not bring them out until after we had our salads. Big no-no and the server attitude was lackadaisical at best as she was more interested in talking to friends than customers.

I came back to the Commissary operations for O’Charleys which was in Nashville and my biggest customer at that time and told some of the people there how awful the meal was. Their comments to me were “did you tell Wayne (franchise holder who also had an office there) about this? I was a little hesitant to do so but they prevailed upon me and I did so. Talked to Wayne about it and described from beginning to end what I saw and experienced there. Wayne did not have much of a response and I left his office.

A few weeks later I ran across him and asked him about the store and this is what he said. He went down there and walked in unannounced for a surprise little visit and it was every bit as bad as I said it was. He spent some days there getting things fixed up again and firing the managers that had allowed this to happen. I asked him how this situation had occured when the store was just a two-hour drive away from the offices in Nashville and easily checked on.

Wayne went on to tell me that the numbers from the store were decent and based solely upon this there was no reason for him to go there. He had six other stores  so I guess he would concentrate on the worst one only. I don’t remember asking him about this so I can only conjecture.

Some time  later I asked Wayne about that stores numbers  and he said that after his surprise visit and  ensuing cleanup and management purge there was a pronounced uptick in sales.

The moral to this story is that numbers only do not tell the complete story. Here we have Solid Edge whose numbers are decent and sales are going up in spite of how the help is presenting the “food”. They should be and could be much better is my belief.

It is not just the basic quality of the food you sell but it’s appearance and presentation too. You can have great food and spend lots of time sending out select aged prime rib from the commissary but if the people “selling” it in the store don’t do their job it will never matter how good the commissary’s beef is.

4 responses to “The Parable of “O’Charleys” Restaurants and Solid Edge

  1. Food for thought…


    Did I find these presentations appetising? Yes. Why?
    I will leave the high energy SE marketing dept gurus to figure that out. 😉

  2. Hi Neil,
    Food for thought indeed. When I went to these two videos what really struck me was looking at the list of videos to the right. Lots of things there from VARs some up to 50+ minutes long. And few from Siemens were there to be seen. In general the VAR content I like much more and I guess it is up to them to do the advertising for SE. I talk to SE VARs and none of them understand how SE/Siemens figures out how they will do(n’t maybe Eh?) PR or marketing.

  3. Yes I agree SE VARs do the useful marketing of SE and by default. There is some quite good content out there from them. How is a new customer going to know to go looking for info courtesy of a VAR they never heard of though? Most likely these 2 videos from a French VAR I happened across purely by accident would have been culled by the marketing dept had they known they were not corporate ‘gray’ and didn’t drone on like a bulletpoint webinar. I mean its just not suit and tie is it? I guess that’s been my recent lesson about Siemens. If you want to know something about SE don’t do the logical thing and go to the Siemens website/filing cabinet. Unless you happen to know Velocity Series (!?wtf?!) how would you ever find it anyway?
    I see at Matts blog (unfortunately not a lot of content yet and still not very homely) some SEU presentations have come out about 3 weeks afterward. From the few I have looked at they are quite well presented but there again its only because I am specifically hunting info out I uncover stuff that is interesting.. I still haven’t found a decent what’s new list. Apparently there are 1200 so they ought to be able to manage a fair account of 120 of them and maybe I can see for myself what 12 important surfacing enhancements are. I may be wrong but I dont think any keynote speakers videos are out either. I did actually want to hear the Mars presentation too. I guess I thought it would have a certain amount of cool and vibe but I couldnt find it. Most likely it will be so professional edited any cool and liveness will have been lost anyway…When it was announced I thought yeah OK that sounds like SE is getting a little hip for an enthusuastic engineering audience but then it sort of seemed like it was relegated to a time slot rather than setting a tone. Wasn’t there so I don’t know but it seems like something that wasn’t associated and projected with the product image as it might have been.
    I suspect for most people finding out about SE this year will just have disappeared from their radar/attention span if it wasn’t out there on ST6 launch day and that’s a pity given the coding work that went into making it a technical success, I think.
    Autodesk and DS will be loooking on at the ST6 launch and thinking that SE doesnt present much of a competitve challenge going forward whatever rent seeking deal they might foist on people simply because Siemens haven’t got their heads around marketing in the internet age let alone got a pitch sorted for the cloud. Siemens absolutely have to face up to their poor performance so far and do something serious about it. ST7 cannot be another marketing abortion/non event.
    Cheers…off to do more painting… 😦

  4. “………….will be loooking on at the ST6 launch and thinking that SE doesnt present much of a competitve challenge going forward ……..”

    Understatement of the year.

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