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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Thai It Once And You’ll Be Sure To Thai It Again!

Photograph of Thai food from Nana & Khao San Road

I work in the restaurant industry and like to consider myself a foodie since I get to eat out a lot.  One of the things I have lamented in more recent times is that there is nothing different out there. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve eaten tasty food at lots of establishments but nothing has really excited me in a long time. That was, until I came across Nana and rediscovered Khao San Road.

Both Khao San Road and Nana are owned by Monte Wan. Monte is pleasant, down to earth, and can always be found helping staff and engaging with customers. During my dining experiences at both restaurants, Monty usually makes an appearance. The first time I met Monte, I thought he was a friendly fellow customer asking us how our meal was. To my surprise, I discovered the man holding a beer and checking in on our table was in fact the owner. Now, whenever I go to either restaurant, Monte personally welcomes me back.

The food at each location is truly special. Both restaurants serve traditional Thai food with a twist and the cuisine always blows me away! Not to sound like a food critic, but the flavour profiles in the food are seriously incomparable.  I’ve tried many of their signature dishes including the Bangkok-style Pad Thai, the Red/Yellow Curry, and the fresh rolls and to this day, I have never been disappointed.

The menus are easy to read and affordable. One other thing to note about the menus – while they are somewhat different at each restaurant, certain menu items at Khao San Road are available at Nana during different times of the week. The restaurants ambiance transports guests to Bangkok’s entertainment district through good music and décor.

Finally, I have to mention the great service.  The staff are always pleasant to deal with, very knowledgeable, highly accommodating, and willing to take the time to suggest items on the menu.

While I have been to Khao San Road’s new location, the last time I ate at Nana was when the Tragically Hip played their last concert in Kingston. I was out for dinner with some friends and was a little disappointed I was going to miss the show (after all, the whole country shut down that evening!) but about 10-15 minutes before the concert, the staff lowered a screen behind the bar and streamed the whole show for all of the customers to enjoy. It really created a nice community feeling with the other customers at the restaurant and everyone left happy.

If you’re ever looking for a great meal, love Thai food and want to try something a little different, check out these two amazing restaurants. You won’t leave hungry, but you will leave happy.

Nana
647-352-5773 x 2
www.stnnana.com

Khao San Road
647-352-5773 x 1
www.khaosanroad.ca

 

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Driving Success with Excellent Customer Service

Maple Nissan Dealership Photograph

For many years, both my wife and I have been driving Nissan vehicles, and I’ve been very happy with them. In fact, I’ve been so happy that I bought out both leases and kept the cars longer then I might normally have.

Several years ago, I went to Maple Nissan in Vaughan, since I had an issue with the tire pressure sensor in one of my vehicles. I rarely contact the dealerships as I have a few trusted mechanics that I go to for all my work, but for something like this, I did my research, and learned that it’s better to have the actual Nissan factory product, which is significantly pricier than after market products.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, and the tire pressure sensor came on again. After checking the pressure in the tires and discovering they were all fine, I thought, there is a good chance that this was a problem with the sensor. Since the initial repair was done less then two years ago, and was somewhat expensive, I decided to follow up with the dealership. I called them up and introduced myself to the Service Manager, Matthew Grieco, and told him that I used to deal with one of his colleagues who no longer works there. I explained the issue to Matthew and told him I was a bit upset since it wasn’t too long ago that I fixed the sensors for the first time.

Matthew told me to come over to the dealership so they could make sure that this was in fact an issue with the sensor and have a look at what they could do about it. We then arranged a specific time and I headed to Maple Nissan.

As soon as I arrived at Maple Nissan, Matthew was there to greet me and had one of his mechanics take a look at the vehicle. After about 15 minutes, Matthew told me that they were reprogramming some of the sensors and this should take care of the issue. While I was glad that the problem seemed relatively minor, I was prepared for a hefty ding of a diagnostics fee (anyone who’s been to a dealer knows the feeling of receiving the dreaded bill at the end all too well). However, Matthew told me it was no problem and not to worry about a charge. Matthew said he was glad to take care of the problem and apologized for the inconvenience.

In a day and age when most automotive dealerships are making money off of service, Matthew could have easily charged me for diagnosing the problem but he took care of it, and kept me very pleased. Since then, I have told a few friends how great the service is at Maple Nissan. At Maple Nissan they stand behind their product and provide excellent customer service. It goes without saying, if I ever need to buy another Nissan, I’ll go back to them.

Maple Nissan
(905) 417-7211
www.maplenissan.com

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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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