Recently, Chipotle opened up at a new location on UPenn’s campus. Qdoba has been at Penn for as long as most people here can remember and there’s never been a real serious challenge to Qdoba’s Mexican Grill store. Until now. Chipotle has been a smash hit by all empirical evidence and they’re showing what true customer service is all about. I’m not surprised that I got an e-mail from Qdoba the other day telling me I can “buy 1 get 1 free” for any burrito at their on-campus location. In fact, just the other night two of my friends were discussing this coupon and decided they’d rather pay full price at Chipotle than split the cost of one burrito at Qdoba. Go figure.
But I wanted to bring forth an empirical example of why I think Chipotle is going to crush and destroy Qdoba. Beyond the fact that their burritos taste better and that their menu is more simply designed. I want to talk customer service. What makes it easy to compare is that I know of the same exact situation, which was handled differently at both places.
Customer Service at Qdoba
Two of my friends went to Qdoba while a third went to the nearby Greek Lady. The third friend joined the first two at Qdoba after they had all received their respective meals. He was quickly told that he couldn’t eat there because only Qdoba customers were allowed. That makes sense in theory, but fails in practice because:
1) The Qdoba store was pretty much empty
2) His friends were paying customers at Qdoba and he was joining them
Customer Service at Chipotle
This past week, I went to the new Jimmy John’s which is a few doors down from Chipotle. Two of my buddies were at Chipotle, but I had eaten there for the past 4 days and didn’t want to make it my 5th day. So I decided to mix things up with some Jimmy John’s. I joined them shortly after at Chipotle and sat down with them in the middle of a really crowded store. The manager at the cash register watched me walk in with Jimmy John’s in hand. She smiled and didn’t say a word. Someone even came over to our table and wiped it down before we started it eating. They didn’t say a word about my Jimmy John’s sandwich either. In fact, the manager even gave us free soda cups.
Beyond the obvious incredible taste of Chipotle, they are going to win because they care about the important things — like not annoying loyal customers who may not choose them on a particular day. Qdoba is completely empty everyday I walk by there and I fully expect that trend to continue.