More Learning from Corporate America: Outback

On New Year’s Eve my husband and I decided to have a nice dinner. Since babysitters charge a minimum of $10/hour (I don’t even want to know how much it would be on New Year’s Eve) we rarely use one. Instead we put the kids to bed and decided to order take-out from the Outback. From start to finish I was amazed by how customer focused they have become.

I went online to look at the menu, then found that you can now place your order online. No looking up the phone number. No waiting for someone to answer. No trying to get the bartender to hear you over the noise. No mistakes on the order (hopefully). I submitted my order, gave a description of my car, and that was it.

10 minutes later I pulled up to a curbside take-away parking spot and someone brought me my order. I didn’t even have to get out of the car and brave the frigid 40 degree weather (see what you’re missing Helene). On the drive home I kept thinking about the library. If we really want to focus on what the customer wants then why don’t we offer a drive up service?

I can’t tell you how many times I pass by the library while I’ve got my kids in the car and wish that I could call them up and ask someone to bring my holds out to the car. I could be in and out in no time. Instead I have to hope I have the stroller. Heave the 40 lb contraption out of the back of my car. Get the baby out of her car seat while the preschooler is screaming, “Nooo ME first!” Then grab the preschooler, diaper bag, purse, library card, and don’t forget the keys. I end up hauling in about 100lbs of kids and stuff just to get a few books. While this keeps my chiropractor in business it doesn’t make me love going to the library (speaking as a customer not an employee).

I know other libraries out there have drive-thru service and others like Topeka & Shawnee County offer holds by mail but these services need to become the norm rather than the exception at libraries. If I need to go to a pharmacy you can bet it will be one that has a drive-thru. On New Year’s Eve we had over a dozen restaurants nearby that we could have gotten take-out from. The Outback was the furthest away, but it was the one we chose because of its conveinence.

About Lori Reed

Lori Reed, coauthor of Workplace Learning & Leadership: A Handbook for Library and Non-Profit Trainers, is a learning and communication strategist with more than twenty years experience in learning and development. A 2009 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and a 2010 "One to Watch" for paralibrarians, Lori graduated cum laude from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication. Lori is a certified Synchronous Learning Expert and a North Carolina Master Trainer and has traveled across North America speaking about libraries and training.


  1. Hey … I wonder if they do steak by mail. :) I never knew Outback did curbside service. What a great idea.

  2. That lane behind ML would be a perfect drive through lane. Get some traffic flowing back there.


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