In my recent travels to Calgary, I had a unique experience with a hamburger that gave me a little glimpse of phenomenal customer service.

My associate traveling with me raved about a hamburger from a place called White Spot. There weren't any locations of White Spot where he lives, and there aren't any in the United States. In fact, the closest White Spot location to us was 40 minutes away, but my friend was adamant about going. I was intrigued that, even though we were both thousands of miles from home, he wanted to drive 40 minutes for a hamburger.

I asked him, "What makes it so great?" His eyes got a little wider, and he smiled and said, "It's their sauce, the Triple-O. You've got to taste it to believe it."

Now, I was really intrigued. So, we hopped in the car and drove the extra miles with my friend salivating for the mouth-watering, famous Triple-O sauce. White Spot didn't disappoint. But while I was there, I found myself fascinated with the focus and attention to service that this hamburger heaven was founded on.

White Spot History

White Spot continues to succeed because it continues to do what its founder, Nat Bailey, always strived to do - listen to customers. Nat started out in the 1920s selling hot dogs for a dime and ice cream for a nickel from the back of his Model T truck at a scenic lookout point in the mountains outside of Vancouver. With all of the hungry sightseers and hikers, he did a bustling business.

One day, that business changed. One weary traveler couldn't fathom walking all the way from his car to Nat, so he rolled down his window and yelled, "Why don't you bring it to us?"

And that's exactly what Nat did. He brought the product to his customers. In fact, the very next day he hired three eager young men to serve the food to customers in their waiting cars. They "hopped to it," and their speedy service earned them the nickname "carhops."

He'd listened to his customers and given them what they wanted, and from there his business grew. In 1928, he opened Canada's first drive-in restaurant on a busy stretch of road outside of Vancouver. White Spot was an instant success. It became the place to be seen in Vancouver, but Nat never stopped listening to his clients and creating better ways to serve them.

As the cars piled up, the challenge quickly became how to serve the hot, delicious food to the customers sitting in their cars.

To overcome that challenge, Nat developed the first carhop tray. The tray attached to the door of the cars and allowed his customers to comfortably enjoy their White Spot burgers. With that service innovation, White Spot grew even more.

Nat could constantly be seen walking amongst the cars and chatting with customers. In doing so, he listened to what they really wanted. He discovered that even though they were in the midst of the Depression, his customers still wanted more than a place to drive in for quick food. Some of them wanted a nice dining room where they could get dressed up for a meal and still be able to afford the food.

With that in mind, Nat went to work bringing his customers more of what they wanted. Right next to his existing White Spot drive-in, he built the White Spot restaurant and drive-in, complete with a dining room. It took off and became one of the highest rated restaurants around.

And all of the success of White Spot came down to one thing - listening to the clients and being smart enough to give them what they want.

Where Is Your Triple-O Sauce?

Are you that attentive to your clients? If you can be and build that type of service, you'll become legendary. In fact, if you can provide that level of service, you'll reach the point where people will travel to do business with you. Just as my associate and I traveled 40 minutes out of our way to visit White Spot, if you have the right customer service and the right vision for your company, you'll have customers seeking you out.

And what about the special Triple-O sauce that attracted us to this hamburger institution in the first place?

Well, as I read on one of the signs in the restaurant, the carhops used to mark orders with an "X" if you wanted extra relish, an "O" if you wanted more sauce, and with a "OOO" if you wanted more of everything. Thus, the Triple-O was born, and now people flock to White Spot restaurants to get a little more of everything.

Don't you think your clients would like a little more of everything? Maybe they would like a little more professionalism from your staff, a little more friendliness on the phone, or a few more options to choose from when it comes to repairing or replacing their systems. You can achieve a tremendous level of success just like Nat Bailey and White Spot. It all starts with listening to your clients and figuring out how to give your clients a little more of everything.

Here's to a little more Triple-O.

Nicholson is president of AirTime 500. For more information on AirTime 500, call 800-505-8885 or visit Nicholson can be reached by e-mail at

Publication date: 04/25/2005