What I Love about Panera Bread

You might think it is the food.  I do like the food and drink combos that Panera offers, but what I really love about Panera is the way they train their staff.

I’ve been asked how to pronounce my first name (Is it steff-ahn or stev-un?).  I’ve been offered a free drink, a free pastry, a free bagel, a free soufflé.  Each host looks me in the eye when they are talking to me.  They do a beautiful job of figuring out how to increase my participation.  The soufflé was particularly interesting.  I only go to Panera for lunch, but the soufflé is only offered at breakfast so to get my free soufflé I have to come to Panera for breakfast!  Brilliant and effective!

I notice they close every few weeks for an evening of staff training.  Well, it shows.  Thanks to whoever is in charge of training at Panera, I have a really good experience every time I go in.

Guy Kawasaki calls this kind of experience enchantment and right now, that is the word I would apply to Panera Bread at the University area in Charlotte. Great job everyone!  Take a bow.

They also have really good ice tea.

How precious would it be if a guest walked in the door of your church and felt enchanted?  Wouldn’t it be beautiful that your guest noticed that everyone seemed to be so interested in her, wanted to know her name and pronounce it correctly? How cool would it be that you were so well prepared for her needs, figured out the next step for her that fit like a glove and someone knew exactly how to offer it to her?

What kind of “soufflé” could a church offer that entices a guest to something he would not otherwise do but that will be really, really good for him if he shows up?

This new year is going to be filled with churches learning how to enchant their guests.  Let’s get started right now with a little soufflé.

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