Monthly Customer Service Experience

Blair Mansion

This month’s customer service experience comes from Blair Mansion Restaurant’s owner Ray Zeender and his search for a Point of Sale (POS) to move him into the 21st century.

First, let’s give a little background on Blair Mansion in Silver Spring, MD, as it moves through its third century of welcoming people through the doors.

Built at the end of the 19th century as a wedding present, the Mansion has witnessed much change from its beginning as a country estate, evolving into one of the fine in the region for dinner theatre, wedding receptions, parties, and catered special events.

The restaurant has come to feature…

  • Open for dinner Monday — Saturday
  • Open for lunch Monday — Friday
  • The Mansion Mysteries comedy murder mystery dinner theatre
  • Wedding ceremonies and receptions
  • Birthday and retirement celebrations, reunions and other parties
  • Business meetings and conferences
  • Jazz on Fridays and Monday Jam Session

Designed by the famed New York socialite architect Sanford White, the building takes you back to days of gaslights, grandfather clocks, working fireplaces with elegant mantles, and antiques of exceptional interest.

White also designed the Madison Square Garden in New York sixteen years later. In 1959 Blair Mansion Inn was extensively renovated and the semi-circular Terrace Room was added. This represents the only structural change to the old Mansion other than the addition of an efficient and modern kitchen. Two years ago, Ray Zeender wanted to move to a POS system that would allow him to “operate our business in real time.”

He set about the quest for a system that would meet three requirements:

  1. Be easy to use.
  2. Must be able to input changes as needed.
  3. Must be able to be upgraded for the future.

In the “interview” process, Zeender interviewed three providers that he determined could meet the first test. Then he went on to the phase of the process that would be the differentiator – service.

All three companies gave him customers to call so he could talk to them directly about their experiences. For the first two, the calls were well received but reserved. It was when he called customers of Electronic Systems Services (ESS) in Clarksburg, Md. that the tone of the calls changed – he started getting enthusiastic responses. They were so strong that the tipping point had been met and Zeender went with the PAR PixelPoint.“Nobody compared to PixelPoint,” said Zeender.

Now, it’s 18 months later and how does Zeender feel today? “Even the small issues that we can live with are a big deal to ESS,” said Zeender. “They really get more annoyed than we do.” Zeender has joined the fold as a believer in the service message. He went on with the story, “When there is a problem, no matter how small, ESS stays on it with a passion.” I don’t know if it’s part of the service commitment, but Zeender tells me that ESS vice president of customer relations Michael Tash plays a mean guitar and you might find him sitting in on the Monday night Jam Session.