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Beyond order-taking

Multnomah Whiskey Library is a local bar and restaurant here in Portland Oregon where I live.

You don’t have a waiter at the Whiskey Library. You have what can only be described as a Spirit Consultant.

When you sit down, you’re handed a spirits menu that feels like a professional folio bound in soft leather. As you accept the menu, you’re told that the first 20 pages are their Scotch selection, and it goes on from there.

The walls are lined with 6 tiers of bottles around the perimeter of the bar, with a sliding ladder to access the top shelves, just like a real library. Obviously there are far too many choices for the average patron.

Your Spirit Consultant – I believe they’re called Hosts at the Library – starts by asking a simple question: “what do you like?”

That’s a hugely different experience than a local burger chain here in Portland called Burgerville. It’s no different than any other burger joint.

You go up to the counter and tell them what you want. They take your order, and few minutes later you’re handed a tasty, albeit very mediocre, hamburger and fries.

As consultants, sometimes it’s okay to react to what our clients want, like at the burger joint. Sometimes our clients know exactly what their challenges are, and how to fix them. But mostly that’s a mistake.

We should be more like Spirit Consultants, walking our clients through a process to help them make better decisions. Questions like Scotch or Whiskey? Do you like it Peety? Smooth and sweet, or dry and spicey?

How would you feel if you went to the doctor, told them you needed open heart surgery, and they just did it without asking questions??? Being an order taker would NOT be a good thing for a doctor. So why do some consultants fall into the trap?

Don’t be an order taker, be in service. And part of service is asking great questions and making informed recommendations.