I hired a barista and she’s an amazing employee. Problem is, her ‘attitude’ seems to be driving away customers.

I own a successful coffee shop. I have one employee, a talented barista, who does everything I ask of her. She arrives on time, works extra shifts and is clean and polite to customers.

I want to grow my business, but unless I’m personally working, my revenue dramatically drops. The problem is my customers don’t come in for coffee when they know my employee will be working. I don’t know why. A few customers have said «your barista has an attitude,» but she never shows a problem attitude with or in front of me.

My employee can be a bit awkward and I wonder if customers misunderstand her and take offense when none is meant. Since I never witness any problems, how can I find out if she treats customers poorly?

Or is the fault mine? Have I created this problem by not doing more to help my employee gain a personal rapport with my best customers? If so, how do I change this?

More importantly, how do I keep customers coming back even when I’m not working? I would love to hire another employee and eventually open a second location, but not at the sake of losing revenue and regular customers.

A: If you want to find out what happens when you’re not present, ask your customers, particularly the ones who report that your barista has an «attitude.» It might only take a simple, «oh my goodness, please let me know what happened so I’ll know what to fix by giving her more training.»

You can also ask your employee. You might say, «A customer mentioned that you and she had a problem yesterday. Could you let me know what happened?» If your employee asks, «What do you mean?» you can add, «A customer said you had an attitude and I figured something had happened and wanted to learn what happened from your point of view.»