Welcome to SQM Picks!

We are very excited to announce the launch of SQM Picks… a feature about the businesses that SQM has grown to know and love. Our President, David Lipton, has years of experience in a variety of industries, and is very passionate about customer service. He is always coming across great businesses, and he believes that they should get the credit that they deserve. SQM Picks will be posted every Wednesday, so be sure to keep an eye out for our latest picks and some of the President’s top recommendations.

Do you know of a business that deserves a standing ovation and a mention in SQM Picks?  We’re always on the lookout for great businesses, and would love to hear about any that you feel should be featured in one of our articles. You can follow us and tweet us at @SQMInc, follow us and send us a message on Facebook at Sensors Quality Management – Mystery Shopping, or email us at sqm@sqm.ca

We hope that you enjoy what SQM Picks has to offer. What are you waiting for? Take your pick!

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I Could Have Been Sitting Two Feet Away From a Bomb… Luckily It Was Just a Training Exercise!

Several weeks ago, I was returning home from a trip with my business partner, Craig. We were sitting in the gate area at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport when I noticed an employee from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) K9 Unit approaching the area with a canine (his partner).

The handler allowed the dog to walk around all the seats and benches sniffing people and their luggage. When the dog approached my area, I asked the handler if the dog was trained for drugs or explosives and the handler indicated he was an explosive sniffing dog.

Seconds later, not even two feet away from me, the dog became focused on the contents of a bag with a shoe box and he pushed it out to where his handler was. As I started to put the pieces of the puzzle together, another TSA officer quickly approached me and indicated that the woman sitting above the bag was with the TSA and they were conducting a training exercise.

Looking back on the situation, I realized that the bag and shoe box sitting underneath the benches never caught my attention, and I never really gave the area a second thought. Had this not been a training exercise, I would have been sitting two feet away from an explosive device!

This experience got me thinking about The Department of Homeland Security’s Program, “If You See Something, Say Something”. The program promotes saying something if you suspect suspicious activity, no matter how minor or irrelevant it may seem, so that everyone can work together to keep the community safe. Whether it be terrorism, crime, or a variety of other safety hazards, you truly do have to stay alert and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

Once again as the saying goes, if you see something, say something.


Homeland Security
Phone: 911
www.dhs.gov

Transportation Security Administration
1-866-289-9673
www.tsa.gov

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport
972-973-3112
www.dfwairport.com

 

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Putting the Sunny Into Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Last year I wrote about Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre when my father was taken there after a car accident. Fortunately, my fathers visit only involved a short stay in the emergency room. In more recent times, my aunt fell and broke her hip and was transported to Sunnybrook by ambulance. Unfortunately, this was not a three or four hour visit but ended up involving surgery and a stay as an inpatient.

During this time, I saw firsthand how Sunnybrook’s outstanding service and commitment to health care extends far beyond the emergency room. Whether it be the Emergency Room nurses, the orthopaedic surgeon, the ward administrator, ward nurses, dietitians, and a host of other staff, Sunnybrook takes it upon themselves to ensure extra special attention and care is taken for elderly patients. The staff went above and beyond accommodating special requests such as finding my aunt food that would meet her needs, answering my numerous questions and taking the time to provide me with updates so that the family would feel as comfortable as possible.

Perhaps the most surprising sign, of how in tune Sunnybrook employees are with the needs of the people who come through their doors, can be exemplified by my interaction with the security guard working in the emergency room. While most security guards would have just sat there being seen and not heard, this gentleman said, “I hope your day gets better,” as I was leaving. His comment clearly showed compassion when dealing with people and it demonstrated that he understood if somebody was in the ER, they were probably not having a great day.

In a time when health care professionals consistently blame a lack of government funding for an inability to do their jobs, I never once heard such comments or got that feeling from any of the employees working at Sunnybrook.

The only thing that could have made my experience better would be better parking rates and longer business hours at the Tim Hortons in the hospital!

To the Sunnybrook Medical Team, thank you for all you do!

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
416-480-6100
www.sunnybrook.ca

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You Can’t Go Wrong Dining at Cobourg’s Buttermilk Café

A photograph of the Buttermilk Cafe in Cobourg ON

A few weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon, I was visiting an old friend who lives in Cobourg, Ontario. He chose to take me to a popular local restaurant called The Buttermilk Café for lunch.

When we were parking the car, he said he was recommending this establishment because the food was really tasty and the restaurant is known for providing excellent customer service. In particular, he told us about a time when he had a problem with his meal and how the restaurant bent over backwards to make it right and apologize for the inconvenience. To this day, he has not forgotten what they did for him, so as an aside, it just goes to show how service recovery can lead to loyal and long-lasting customers.

Within a couple of minutes of being seated, the server took our order and quickly brought us our drinks. Before we knew it, our main courses arrived and it was at that time when I realized I made a mistake on my order. I ordered an omelette thinking that it included red peppers, when in fact, it came with green peppers….which I can’t eat.

Just as we were beginning lunch , the server came back to check on our table and see how our meals were (table checks are another sign of a good restaurant!) and she noticed I wasn’t eating my food. She asked me if everything was all right and despite me insisting that the mistake was mine, she immediately scooped up the plate and said she would have it remade without green peppers. I told her it was unnecessary, since it was my own fault, but she insisted on remaking the omelette as “The Buttermilk Café wants all of their customers to be happy and satisfied”.

At this moment, I realized The Buttermilk Café clearly cares about their customers. Where most servers would have just been sympathetic and said sorry or something along those lines, this establishment wasn’t satisfied until the customer was.

The new omelette was just as terrific as the service, arriving hot and fresh.

Between the great home cooked food and a clear commitment to customer service and satisfaction, if you ever get out to Cobourg, you won’t go wrong dining at the Buttermilk Café.

The Buttermilk Café
905 373-7247
www.buttermilkcafe.com

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Putting the Home in Homewood Suites

Orlando Airport Homewood Suites by Hilton

At the end of my vacation, my daughter and I ended up stranded in Orlando, when our flight was cancelled, due to poor weather conditions.

With my rescheduled flight not leaving until the next evening, myself, along with thousands of other stranded travellers began looking for hotel rooms.

Although we were initially directed to a 1-800 number, that involved a long on-hold time, one of the airline employees recognized my increased stress level given the late hour of the day and my young daughter being on the verge of tears. The employee quietly suggested a few specific hotels that took good care of stranded passengers, and as a result, I called the Homewood Suites.

I immediately called the hotel and was surprised at how quickly they answered the phone. Despite it being after two in the morning, the employee was friendly, helpful, and provided me with a very reasonable stranded travelers hotel rate.

Once we confirmed the reservation, the employee asked me if I needed a lift to the hotel and sent a shuttle to pick us up. As soon as we arrived at the hotel, I was greeted by name and checked in within two minutes. The gentleman working was able to anticipate our needs before we even had to ask. He then offered to store our bags at the front desk while we ran out to grab a quick bite, and he let us know he added a late checkout to our account so we could sleep in the next morning.

The next day I had an equally enjoyable experience with the other staff members who were friendly, helpful and extremely accommodating. My daughter and I also had time to walk around the grounds. The facility is beautiful with big and modern spacious rooms, a large, bright lobby area, and complimentary breakfasts, afternoon snacks and dinner (including some wines and beers).

I can certainly see why many travelers make it their first choice. While I can’t speak for other hotels in the chain, this location definitely puts the home in Homewood Suites.

Orlando Airport Homewood Suites by Hilton at Gateway Village
Email: Luis Arancibia
Homewood Suites Website

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What’s a Trip to Jamaica Without Some Good Jerk Chicken?

Photos of the outside of Scotchies Restaurant in Jamaica

While nothing is more Canadian than having a cold beer and watching hockey, there are probably not many more things that are more Jamaican than drinking a Red Stripe and eating jerk chicken. As mentioned in my last blog, when it was time for lunch everybody that I was with wanted to go for good jerk chicken. Thankfully, when it came to finding a good restaurant, we knew we were in good hands. We were spending the day with Patrice Bailey, a well-known tour guide in the area and she highly recommended Scotchies Jamaican Restaurant.

Scotchies is a small restaurant chain with three or four locations on the island. They specialize in making authentic jerk chicken by placing it on a wood fire, covered with bamboo. While the food is cooked low and slow, you really can’t beat it, whether you order chicken, ribs, or any of their side dishes. Everything comes out hot, fresh and right off the grill!

The price is ridiculously reasonable. At Scotchies you pay for your food, find a table to dine at and pick up your meal when it is ready. While the service may have been a bit slow (hey…good food takes time!), I was really impressed at how clean the employees kept the seating area. As soon as guests left, employees rushed to clean off the tables, so they would be available for other guests.

One thing that I always look for in a restaurant is whether locals are also eating at the establishment. Since more than half of the people eating at Scotchies were locals, if the food keeps them coming back, it clearly has a good reputation. In fact, we didn’t arrive at the restaurant until after 2 pm and the place was still packed with a lunch time crowd!

If you get down to the area, I suggest grabbing lunch or dinner at Scotchies. Sun… ✓, fun… ✓, and good food… ✓!

Scotchies Jamaican Restaurant
876-953-8041
Scotchies on Trip Advisor

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Ja’ Makin me Happy…Patrice Bailey!

Photo of Patrice Bailey on one of her Falmouth Tours

Last year, I got to know Patrice Bailey when I began planning a day trip for my family to explore the area near the Port of Falmouth in Jamaica. Our cruise ship was docking there for the day and I wanted to plan an excursion to make the most out of our stay, since my research showed that the port was located in the middle of nowhere with nothing really around it.

While I was surfing the web for ideas, a tour guide by the name of Patrice Bailey kept coming up…and with great reviews, I decided to send her a short email. Within a few hours, I was communicating with Patrice by phone and email, and we made an arrangement to hire one of her colleagues to drive us from Falmouth to a beach in Montego Bay, since she herself was fully booked. When we arrived at the port, Patrice introduced herself with hugs all around before sending us on our way, with our tour guide. We immediately felt like family.

Our tour guide was really friendly and he even managed to give us a short tour of the area before taking us back to the ship. He also took us to a great local place for Jamaican patties, which was the icing on the cake!

Flash forward to 2017 and I gave Patrice a call when we chose a cruise revisiting Falmouth. Since we had developed more of a personal friendship over the last year, during our numerous email exchanges, I invited Patrice to lunch as a thank you for planning a great trip the year before. Patrice accepted the invitation but when we arrived, she surprised us with an entire day of fun filled activities.

Patrice took us on a tour of the area, which included the neighbourhood that Usain Bolt grew up in, as well as a couple of gorgeous lookout points. We then went to a secluded beach, where there were only a few other people nearby and you could see blue water and white sand for miles. When we were ready for lunch, we asked her about good, local jerk chicken. Patrice said, for really good jerk chicken, she would only take us to one place and that began our 45 minute drive to Scotchies… more about that in my next blog.

After our great lunch, Patrice showed us a few beach clubs that we can visit on future trips and took us back to the port where we hugged and promised to keep in touch.

Being in the hospitality industry, I typically make friends wherever I go, but I have met my match in Patrice. If you are looking for someone to make your experience in Falmouth amazing, Patrice Bailey is definitely the way to go. She is really easy to deal with, professional, reasonably priced and a barrel of fun!

Patrice Bailey Tours
1-876-509-7542
patbailey52@yahoo.com
www.patricebailey.com

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Putting the Fun in “Fundido”

Los Otates Restaurant in Cozumel, Mexico

As mentioned in my last blog, Cozumel, Mexico is one of the ports that I have had the pleasure of visiting during several cruises. Aside from scuba diving, one of my favourite things to do in Cozumel is eat at Los Otates, a local restaurant. Los Otates is an authentic Mexican restaurant, just off the beaten path, in an area that tourists rarely visit. If you didn’t know it was there…you would never find it!

I first learned about Los Otates five or six years ago while I was in Mexico with friends. Unfortunately, I was unable to visit the restaurant on that trip, but my wife was lucky enough to eat at this hidden gem. She raved about it and since that time, I too have eaten more than once. I always look forward to returning.

If I was to take you to Los Otates, you would probably think I am crazy based on its curbside appeal… because it has none. The restaurant is a small hole in the wall that has a green tin roof and a chicken wire fence on the side to close shop. The sidewalk leading up to the restaurant is in disrepair but it is in a safe part of town and the food speaks for itself.

Los Otates is the kind of place locals go to after spending a night on the town. All the taxi drivers know it and everyone ends up there, since they are open until four or five in the morning. Really – you want great food? Ask a taxi driver. These guys know their stuff.

They serve some of the best Mexican food I have ever eaten. They make the guacamole right in front of you, and melt the cheese for their signature dip, Queso Fundido, as you watch. There food is always fresh, served hot, and delicious.

Aside from the quality, you can’t beat the price! Whether it’s beers for a $1.40 US, or tacos for $2.50 US, you will leave extremely full without putting a big dent in your wallet. To put it in perspective, four of us stuffed ourselves silly, ordered beers and apple sodas and our bill only came out to $38.00 US. You just can’t beat that!

If you really want to experience authentic Mexican cuisine while in Cozumel, I really recommend that you abandon the tourist joints and head to Los Otates. They put the fun in “Fundido”!

Los Otatates
gerencia_mexico@losotates.com
www.losotates.com

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