What is it that makes a visit to Pret a Manger an enjoyable experience - and one to Starbucks so utilitarian? It's to do with the human interface. In Starbucks one person asks you what you want - and then turns their back on you. You then pay another - who hands you your change and moves their attention to the next in the queue. Then you wait for yet another to hand over your coffee. In Pret, one person smiles and asks how they can help. They get your coffee and food, package it and ask you for payment. The whole interface begins and ends with a smile from one person. You have no sense of being in a sausage machine. Oh, and everything tastes better at Pret.

At Pret, this doesn't happen by accident. When a new person is added to shift the others on that shift have the power of veto over them. They have this because every week every team is mystery shopped. If the person doing the mystery shop doesn't get smiling service, no one on the team gets a bonus. Also, if a team member gets promoted, the person that trained them gets a pecentage of the team member's rise in pay.

Sound a bit creepy? Not at all; just good management that aligns everyone's interests and creates exceptional food and service. Which is what a brand is truly about.

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