My office has several sandwich shops within two blocks, but the two closest are Subway and Potbelly. Although I have to walk a bit farther, I find myself choosing Potbelly again and again, and it's not just the sandwiches themselves.
Employees at my Potbelly make me feel like they enjoy their work and are happy to see me when I walk in the door. It doesn't hurt that they sometimes have live music. Sometimes the cashier sings along.
At my Subway, on the other hand, sandwich makers seem like they are serving some kind of sentence, and will be freed at the end of the day if they are lucky. While Potbelly asks me for my order before I reach the counter, Subway asks me for my order later, and somehow seems slower at moving people through the line. Sometimes I am even asked for my order twice at Subway.
I recall an outstanding manager at Subway several years ago who was outgoing and kept his staff smiling, but this somehow faded after a management change. The other Subway in my neighborhood is similarly lowkey.
I have been to several Potbelly locations, and they have all conveyed the same attitude of cheerfulness that the company website extolls. I don't know how they train the staff to have such a positive outlook, but whatever they are doing, it's working.
Here's hoping that more businesses learn from Potbelly.