Tag Archives: Customer Experience

Top Ten Things to Do This Holiday Season

via GIPHY

There are plenty of fun and festive things to do this holiday season. Here is my Top 10 places to check out:

  1. Toronto Christmas Market – Experience the magic of the holidays with carols, hot food, and plenty of handcrafted goods to choose from! Treat your kids to a storytelling session or pictures with Santa himself. You can explore the Distillery Christmas Market until December 23rd. Admission is charged on weekends only, beginning at 5 PM on Fridays.
  2. Skating at City Hall, Harbourfront, or The Bentway Skate Trail – Sharpen your skates and head on over to the shoreline of Lake Ontario, Nathan Phillips Square, or underneath the Gardiner Expressway. If you don’t have your own pair of skates, you can rent them for a small fee. Show off your skating (and dancing) skills at the Harbourfront Centre on their DJ Skate Nights!
  3. Christmas Lights Across Canada 2018 in Ottawa – It’s obligatory to include at least one light festival in every holiday list. Take a trip to Canada’s capital to be dazzled by festive lights across the city and the Magical Winter Lightscapes show projected on the Parliament Buildings.
  4. Day Trips to Niagara  The Falls are always stunning in the winter. There are plenty of casinos, restaurants, and museums in the entertainment district.
  5. Rochester, NY  For a quick overnight trip, visit Rochester, New York. The holiday spirit is very much alive with Christmas Markets and plays such as “The Nutcracker”. I also highly recommend the Minnesota Children’s Museum, as it has great exhibits that emphasize education mixed with fun.
  6. Ripley’s Aquarium  To see amazing creatures from under the sea, there’s always Ripley’s Aquarium. For the holidays they have special events such as breakfast with Santa! The aquarium is open daily from 9 AM to 11 PM.
  7. Eat Out – It’s never a bad time to take your family out to a nice dinner or lunch for some quality bonding time. Of course, nothing beats a home-cooked meal but sometimes it’s nice not to do the dishes. For those lazy mornings, go out for a nice brunch!
  8. Afternoon Tea – Feeling fancy? Head over to Fairmont Royal York for holiday tea and sandwiches at the Library Bar every Saturday and Sunday. A special new year’s day tea is also available on January 1st.
  9. Skiing and Snow Tubing – If you don’t mind heading up a bit north of Toronto, the ski hills are open at Snow Valley and Blue Mountain! For something a bit different, try out snow tubing—it’s easy and fun for the entire family.
  10. Great Wolf Lodge – The Lodge transforms into Snowland for the holiday season. Not only do they have a life-sized Gingerbread house, but they also have daily holiday events. You can also enroll the kids in North Pole University

Whatever you choose to do over the winter break, all of us at SQM hope you have a safe and enjoyable holidays!

 

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‘Tis The Season for Giving

I hope everyone’s holiday season is off to a fun and festive start!

One of the things I like to do all year long, but especially around the holidays, is support my community and those around me.  One particular group that I am involved with is Toronto-based Ve’ahavta. As some of you may know from my previous posts, one of the group’s main activities is to provide the homeless with meals and clothing.  During my involvement with this group, I’ve learned that they are always in need of fresh socks and underwear…articles of clothing that people often overlook. I myself never thought of this, and usually donated warm hats, mitts, gloves, and sleeping bags, however, when you think of it, clean, warm, dry socks and underwear is a necessity.

As we’ve done in the past, SQM is launching our annual, Holiday Sock / Underwear Drive.  I encourage all of my friends, colleagues, those on the SQM Team, and in fact…..anyone to send:  new socks, new underwear, or gift cards from either Walmart of Costco to the SQM office. We will deliver the items to Ve’ahavta, who will distribute them to those in need this holiday season and throughout the cold winter months.

We know that this is a busy time of the year and that everyone has their own charities and causes they like to support, but if you have the time or resources, please consider supporting SQM’s Holiday Sock and Underwear Drive.

Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone at SQM, including all of our office staff and field force, for all of your hard work and diligence. I would also like to thank all of our clients for their continued support and business.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season and all the best for 2019!

SQM

156 Duncan Mill Road, Unit 19

Toronto, ON  M3B 3N2

416-444-4491

www.sqm.ca

 

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A Shout-Out for a Dear Friend

This week’s blog post is a little different, as I wanted to share some information about a close friend who has just taken the next step in his career and business.

Back when I was in high school, I met someone who I became very good friends with: Salim Bardai. Salim has just opened up a Freshii franchise in Barrie north, specifically at 347 Cundles Road East, Unit M2.

Salim and I had bonded in the food service business when we both worked as teenagers at McDonald’s and we have managed to stay in touch over the last 35 years, despite Salim moving up in Barrie several years ago (that said he’s always made an effort to come back to the city to hang out with friends!).

For many years, Salim worked as a store manager for McDonald’s up in Barrie before leaving the restaurant to continue his career in retail. This brings us to 2018, when Salim decided he wanted to strike out on his own. After doing some research, he decided he was interested in becoming the latest franchisee for Freshii.

For those of you who may not know, Freshii is a casual restaurant that serves healthy food options, such as salads, soups, wraps and burritos.

Salim has always been great as a friend and one of the most dedicated people I’ve come to know. Whether it was during his time at McDonald’s, starting other businesses, his willingness to coach others, or his involvement with charitable and community causes, Salim always gives 100%. As a manager and business owner he always tries to build a close-knit, solid team and when it comes to customers, he understands that employee satisfaction equals customer satisfaction.

Salim has always had a dream of running his own franchise and between Freshii having great products and Salim’s dedication to his staff, customers, and the community, I think he’s got a great recipe for success going forward.

For those of you in the Barrie area or passing through, please consider stopping by Salim’s location and supporting a great friend, as well as a wonderful company!

 

Freshii

705-986-0556

https://www.freshii.com/ca/en- 

 

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Behind the Scenes of Great Customer Service

Last week, I mentioned my daughter’s bat mitzvah, and the beautiful invitations that we sent out.  As part of the celebrations, we also wanted to jazz things up a bit, and so my wife decided to speak to somebody about décor options.

We didn’t want to have an overly fancy, lavish setup, nor were we interested in going crazy with our budget.  We did want to have a nice centerpiece on each table, some décor for the buffet area, a guest book so our daughter would have a souvenir to remember things by, and we also needed to have something for the table cards.  While some people go crazy depending on what type of celebration you’re having, we wanted to keep things somewhat low key but still elegant, whimsical and special.

Enter Lori from Behind the Scenes Creations. My wife had been referred to a few people, but as soon as she spoke to Lori, she knew she had found someone she could work with….something just clicked. Lori was creative, energetic, warm and understood our need to stay within our budget.

For the centerpieces, one of the themes throughout the function was the pineapple because it’s my daughter’s favourite fruit (and the symbol for hospitality). As a result, Lori put a pineapple on each table, on an attractive wooden platform, alongside a terrarium with cacti and succulents (another one of my daughter’s favourite things).  For the table cards, Lori handmade mini glass terrariums that mimicked the centerpieces, that were filled with live succulents.   Lori built stand up letters for the buffet, using flowers, for my daughter’s name.  Lastly, Lori suggested we put together a nice photo album (we did this at Costco) that everyone could sign.

With the exception of the photo album, Lori put together all of these items on her own.  Recognizing the manual labour that went into these pieces, I’m still amazed she was able to do this….and at an extremely reasonable price.

The telltale sign of success were the compliments we received.  Whether it was the comments regarding the centrepieces, the numerous people who asked to take a centerpiece (and the pineapples!) home and the many, many, MANY compliments on the table cards, Lori obviously is doing something right. If you’re in need of a superb event and decorations planner, someone that you will love working with, I implore you to consider Lori.  She did a fantastic job of bringing our vision to life for us.

Lori Himelfarb Weiss
Behind the Scenes Creations
416-566-6641

 

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An Invitation to Great Customer Service

Several weeks ago, my daughter turned 13 and had her Bat Mitzvah. As part of the celebration, we had a luncheon for friends and family. In the lead up to the event, one of the things we needed to do was to send out invitations to all the guests. While everyone does this a little differently…by email, handwritten notes, online invitation services, etc…..my wife wanted to send out a professional, beautiful paper invitations that was appropriate for this particular celebration.

My wife spoke to a few of her colleagues and met with a few different invitation designers. One of them was Gail Agensky, owner of Paper Heart Custom Invitations. As soon as my wife met with Gail, she knew she was going to be “The Person.” Gail was always responsive in terms of calls and emails, she was creative, she was always available to talk even before we put down the deposit, and she was always making suggestions for the theme of the card. It was no contest…my wife decided we were going to use Gail for this work – she was the one that could create the elegantly whimsical invitation. My wife also loved the idea of supporting a woman in a small Canadian business.

In addition to coming up with a stunning invitation and envelope, she also suggested a thank you card, using the same style and theme. Gail even helped us design a customized stamp so everything would be tied together nicely. She was also reasonable in terms of price, compared to other quotes we received. Gail obviously knows that a combination of great work and reasonable pricing is the recipe for success.

Aside from getting many, many MANY compliments on our invitations, when we mentioned her name, people have said they know and use Gail, and have nothing but great things to say about her and the highest regard for her work.

If you’re looking for a creative person to do beautiful graphics, Gail and Paper Heart Custom Invitations should be your first and only stop!

Gail Agensky
Paper Heart Custom Invitations
(416) 781-6423

 

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Beck Taxi: A Driving Force in Customer Service Excellence

Over the past few years, there’s been lot written about the taxi industry, both here in Toronto and all around the world. Most of the news and conversations I hear are related to newer companies like Uber and Lyft which promote themselves as a “ride share service” (I’m still trying to understand how they take cars of the road). While the taxi industry isn’t without its challenges, there are some great companies that are still involved in this business.

One of the best operators in the GTA, that is easily identified by its telltale green and orange vehicles, is Beck Taxi. Beck is a family-run business that has been in the industry of getting people from point A to point B for over 50 years.

Where some operators choose to do the minimum or near to the minimum standards required by laws and regulations, it seems to be part of Beck’s DNA to exceed the requirements, in an effort to provide an outstanding experience.

Whether it’s creating an app to keep up with technology (they actually had their app quite early on) and make their service more convenient to customers, putting their drivers through in-depth training (no longer required by law), or taking older vehicles off the road before they have to be replaced, Beck clearly strives to provide the best customer experience.

While there are always challenges associated with staff in the service industry, I find that Beck drivers and dispatchers are usually quite friendly, polite, and professional. I also find that for almost all cases, they’re safe operators of their vehicles and are respectful to others on the road.

Between increased competition, increased costs of gas, insurance, and other expenses, driving a taxi for a living is certainly not as easy as it seems. In this changing industry, Beck continues to do a wonderful job providing a very safe. comfortable, and enjoyable customer experience.

Beck Taxi
416-751-5555
http://www.becktaxi.com

* While I always highlight great businesses, for complete honesty and transparency, it should be noted that members of my family own taxi licenses that are leased / used by Beck.

 

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The Appreciation Series: Nurses

Similar to my last post, where I highlighted an amazing group of people, as a follow-up to that theme, I’d like to give a shout-out to nurses.

Unfortunately, from time to time I’ve had to be in hospitals with friends and family members and while I have previously complimented certain organizations, in this case I’d like to show my appreciation for a particular profession.

Whether it’s the emergency room nurses who may find themselves overwhelmed on a Saturday night, nurses who are dealing with people who may have mental health issues or just the common flu, nurses who deal with kids, crying babies, or older folks who are upset, they certainly are a special group of people. Somehow, they manage to balance many different demands, whether it’s people, technology, or understanding medical science—they are, in a manner of speaking, professional jugglers.

In addition to those working in hospitals, there’s also some different characteristics (which are no less important) for nurses working in long-term facilities or rehab facilities where the jobs are just as demanding, but require a somewhat different skillset for patients and families.

From my experience, it is clear that there’s more to nursing than just giving out medicine and changing bed pans. In business, I often say that there are people out there who are a jack-of-all trades and a master of none, but when it comes to nurses, they have to be a jack-of-all trades and a master of all.

Between high taxes and lots of other public services that require funding, I’m not sure if it’s realistic for nurses to be paid what I believe they’re worth, however I honestly and truly appreciate their commitment to their profession and the vital work they do.

To all of the nurses out there, thank you, never stop caring, and keep up the great work!

 

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