a dispute about customer skills is tearing apart my agrotourism business

A reader writes:

My two business partners (and their spouses) and I operate a successful agrotourism business, including an inn where guests come to enjoy delicious food, luxury accommodations, and the chance to do light agricultural work while being outside in the sunshine and fresh air. I own 70% of the company and they split the remaining 30%. This project was our dream; we left successful city careers to make this happen. We employ about 20 other people, but I’m overall in charge. There’s my partner, Alice (chief agricultural officer), and her wife Amy (head of guest services), and my partner John (CFO) and his wife Jenn (executive chef). Business is booming and the heart of it is the inn. None of that would happen without Amy and Jenn. Therein lies the problem.

Jenn’s culinary skills are outstanding, but it’s Amy who’s transformed the experience into something guests rave about. Amy’s job is to shepherd 4-12 guests at a time through a multi-day agricultural experience. Spending long hours with each group, she mentors them in their ag work, ensures safety/quality control, and sees that they’re comfortable and having a good time. From a guest’s perspective, she’s phenomenal – with stellar reviews — but she has a habit others find annoying: repeating anecdotes, explanations, and jokes. Amy’s background is theatre and education. A consummate professional, she’d never repeat a story to a guest – she has layers of stories for repeat guests – but she does repeat in front of other employees. Jenn finds this grating, disrespectful and rude, as does John. They continually complained and insisted that I speak to her, so I did.

I explained that it’s hard on others to hear the same things repeatedly. Amy replied that she does it to remember exactly what she needs to say. She compared it to being a teacher or tour guide: information need to be communicated and she’s found effective ways of doing it. She added that verbal patterns (repeating things) are how she keeps things straight with so many groups coming and going. I get that — you do what works. I also came from sales where people constantly used the same stories to make the same points to different clients. Amy asked me directly if it was Jenn who complained; I didn’t even answer before she said she could tell by my facial expression.

Things got worse and tensions are rising. Amy did tried to switch it up but said she felt anxious and nervous, especially if Jenn was around. She’s reverted to her original schtick, which continues to please guests but bothers John and Jenn. Jenn feels disrespected and unseen because she thinks I took Amy’s side. Did I? My solution was to try to coach Amy into creating new dialogue (failed) and allow Jenn and John to withdraw from the client-facing aspects of their job descriptions they’d previously disliked. This has made a small improvement because they interact less with “public Amy,” but they still maintain that she over-focuses on the clients to the detriment of her coworkers. This is all complicated by the fact that we have two married couples and they’re all on the same rung. We all began this project as friends; I just had more experience and capital. We need Jenn and her amazing kitchen skills as much as we need Amy. In fact, we need everyone here.

I know I blew this one. But what can I do now to fix it?

Since you may ask: The partnership is legally drawn-up and there are no significant issues with fairness, org chart, work distribution, business plan, money, etc. Up until this problem, we had no real problems. People are in charge of their own areas, but we’ve been making major decisions via a consensus model. Technically, I have final say, but I’m not sure what’s fair here.

– Farming in the Vortex of Discontent

Jenn and John are being ridiculous. What Amy is doing makes perfect sense in this context; her job is to entertain guests and impart information to them, and there are only so many ways you can do that. Having a “script” and recycling the same stories and ways of saying things is COMPLETELY NORMAL in this kind of job.

If Amy stuck to a script every time Jenn and John invited her over for dinner, they’d have grounds for being annoyed. But this isn’t a social situation, and social rules don’t apply!  This is work, and Amy is essentially on a stage when she’s working with guests. Her patter isn’t directed at coworkers; it’s for guests. She’s doing her job, she’s doing it well, and her goal isn’t (and shouldn’t be) to entertain colleagues while she does it.

This is like if someone managing the sound system for an orchestra kept complaining about having to hear the same songs every night.

I think where you went wrong was by indulging their complaints and asking Amy to change things up. Jenn and John were in the wrong and you should have explained that to them, not tried to get Amy to comply.

As for what to do now … you can try laying this out for Jenn and John, emphasizing that Amy’s stories for the guests are for the guests, not them. Tell them they can’t apply social rules to a work situation. Tell them Amy’s reviews are stellar and her approach with guests has been transformative for the business. Tell them you need them to figure out how to make their peace with how Amy does her job, because you support her approach. And then ask, realistically, if they can live with that or not since it’s not going to change and if it’s a deal-breaker for them, you need to know that.

Because the thing is … “we absolutely need to keep everyone at all costs” isn’t a realistic or smart way to run a business, especially after the very early start-up stage. When that’s your mindset, you put up with behavior that harms the business … and you’ll find yourself putting an unreasonable burden on other people to keep the peace, as happened when you relayed those complaints to Amy. If you had a 50/50 partnership with Jenn and John, this would be harder, although still solvable — but 70% of this business is yours. You have the ability to say “here’s how I need things to run” and “here’s how things will run.” If Jenn and John can find a way to stay happily, great. But don’t get so focused on keeping them at all costs that you let them dictate unreasonable things to the rest of you. That’s much more likely to harm your business in the long run than having to hire a new chef and finance person if it comes to that.

Read an update to this letter

{ 730 comments… read them below }

  1. Another Jen*

    I’m confused about why John and Jen think that they’re at work to be entertained in the first place. They need a serious reality check. The only comparison I can think of is going somewhere like Disney World and complaining “Ugh, this again!” about a character actor…you simply wouldn’t do it.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Yeah. This. Any customer-facing/public-facing person is going to have a script of sorts, because you’re explaining the same things or answering the same questions over and over – that’s just the nature of the job! Tour guides, bartenders, customer service reps, sales folks, receptionists, you name it, they all develop scripts and stories and repeat themselves a lot. Hell, part of my job when I was briefly in a customer service team role was to help standardize our scripts and make sure they were accurate!

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I used to be a research moderator and I ran one study 6-10 times a day for about a year. I gave the same blurb including the same jokes in the same intonation every time. One time I got bored and tried to change it up and two or three times just ended up standing there in front of a participant, totally lost, unable to recall where I’d been in my explanation. So I went back to the old script.

        1. The Other Katie*

          I volunteer at a museum in a visitor encounter position, and if I try to deviate too far from my ‘script’ it goes off the rails fast. I can be informative, entertaining, or original – pick two!

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            As someone who worked in hotels for about six and a half years, this is so true. I can be informative and entertaining enough that you pay attention to what I’m saying, or I can be original and go off script. But “being original” never worked out well and I would inevitably end up forgetting SOMETHING. Best to just stick to the script.

            Also, sounds like Amy is already taking into account return customers and changing the script slightly for them. So really I think John and Jenn should concentrate on their jobs…..Amy is going to be a bit repetitive in her customer facing job, and it sounds like OP has already done what she can to separate Amy from the other two already.

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        There’s only so many ways to say some things. I mean, does Jenn find new ways every day to assign tasks to any sous-chefs and hand things off to servers? I’m going to guess no.

      3. KR*

        And the scripts are so important to make sure that everyone has a consistently excellent experience. I talk to customers all day every day for my job and if someone listened to all my calls they would probably be annoyed because it is pretty repetitive, but that is the point! Because I have to cover certain things every call so every customer has the same experience.

      4. Greg*

        Can confirm – my college job was a tour guide at the Arch in St. Louis. I made the same joke every 20 minutes: “There are 1,076 steps to the top of the Arch. Does anyone want to forgo the elevator ride and get their workout in?” Drove me nuts but kept me on schedule and on task.

        1. That One Person*

          Agreed scripts just helped so much. Sometimes you can make them a little silly, like whenever I worked the fitting room I’d generally say, “I’ll take the rejects and you enjoy the winners,” to people on their way out so I could get whatever they didn’t want and fix them rather than the person ditching them wherever. Sometimes got a laugh and even had someone defend that they simply weren’t winners this time (the response I enjoyed the most cause of how rare it was, nothing like people playing along. For other things, like the phone – which I despised answering – scripts helped keep things flowing and professional. Sometimes we might modify the script for a holiday to reflect hours since it’d speed up the extra phone calls just calling to check our hours, but less ad-libbing meant less tripping up generally and kept the day moving. Since retail wasn’t my jam I like to think the scripts helped me keep some sanity points along the way or at least kept me from going so far in the negative to completely break down.

      5. Reba*

        Right? I used to work at a non-Disney amusement park, right next to one of the live shows. It was country music, which I enjoy…but not the same 8 songs, 5 times a day, 6 days a week. But would I have ever gone to the performers (or their boss) and been like “Hey, I PERSONALLY am annoyed, time to switch it up!” NO! What an INSANE request! My job, too, was to give tours through a crooked house (built on a 45 degree angle), and I had to say the same script over and over again. I imagine Amy gets tired of saying the same things over and over again too, but it really IS helpful to repeat it so that you can remember where you are, even when you’ve temporarily turned your brain off from the repetition!

    2. Roy G. Biv*

      “Same jokes on the Jungle Cruise.” No kidding! The boat also stayed on the same course. Imagine that!

          1. Lilo*

            “Please stand clear of the doors. Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas.”

            They even sold that on a shirt for a while.

            1. Wants Green Things*

              And I can exactly how many times I’ve ridden that ride because I just repeated it tone perfect in my cube. Probably the only Spanish I can properly pronounce!

              But seriously, it’s agrotourism. Tourism. It’s. A. Tour. Of course it’s gonna have a script!

            2. Rain's Small Hands*

              My youngest was in 7th grade Spanish class – first year Spanish. On day one the teacher said “does anyone know any Spanish” She raised her hand “Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas” The teacher started laughing.

              And we bought her the shirt.

              1. L.H. Puttgrass*

                Bwahahaha! I love this story. “Por favor manténgase alejado de las puertas” is the only Spanish phrase I can reliably say—mostly because I’ve practiced it so often.

                I don’t have the t-shirt, but I do have a mug with the monorail on one side and that phrase on the other.

            1. GammaGirl1908*

              Not Jungle Cruise, but I was envisioning the lighting techs and stagehands at a Broadway show being annoyed that the actors say the same lines every night.

              1. Sorrischian*

                There was an NPR story I heard several years ago about some members of the Phantom of the Opera pit orchestra who’d been playing the same music week in, week out for twenty years and had started to hate it and each other … and even they were more reasonable about it than John and Jenn are being in this story

        1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

          I was thinking of the Weird Al song “Skipper Dan”.

          (If you haven’t heard it, it’s from the perspective of “a tour guide on the Jungle Cruise ride”, who’s bored by his own script! The video is on YouTube.)

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            “And I’m doing 34 shows every day, every time it’s the saaaaame….”

            One of my faves! And while I also would lose my mind if I were Skipper Dan or if I had to hear his show over and over again, if I were an employee there I would certainly be annoyed but also realize that it’s part of my job so I would learn to deal. Or ignore. I love Alison’s response that it’s like the sound person at an orchestra concert being annoyed about hearing the same music, but usually orchestras change their programs for every concert series (1-4 performances, usually). This is more like the sound person for Bruce Springsteen complaining that he does “Born in the USA” at every concert. Or the sound person for a Broadway show complaining that they do the same show every night. Um, yeah, that’s the gig. Either be okay with it or quit. John and Jenn are lucky in that they at least don’t even have to pay attention because they’re not doing the sound for a show, they are simply bystanders to Amy’s performance. They could learn to ignore it all, or be somewhere else when Amy is doing her shtick, or find some other easy solution to the problem.

            Also, if what Amy is telling guests is important, she definitely *should* be repeating the same thing to every group. Flight attendants have to do the same speech (or show the same video) at the beginning of every flight, by law. Amy probably also has to tell guests stuff like that every time someone new arrives (“bathrooms are here, emergency exits are there” etc). Do John and Jenn also complain to airlines that the pre-flight videos are annoying and repetitive??

            1. Warrior Princess Xena*

              I have flown enough that I certainly do find the flight attendant speech boring (there was a brief interlude of entertainment back when Samsung phones would explode on planes and they had to require that those phone be switched off at all times) but would never dream of making a complaint. And frankly knowing emergency speeches by heart is a good thing, not a bad thing, because it means that if there’s a problem it’s much more likely that I’d remember what I’m supposed to be doing.

              1. Slow Gin Lizz*

                Yes, it’s good to know the emergency stuff. I don’t even listen anymore but probably could still do it in my sleep (I don’t fly too often but I am just good at memorizing stuff). And I imagine it’s federal regulations what they have to say and airlines probably have 200 lawyers making sure it’s all worded correctly, so of course they don’t vary the script ever. Except on Southwest, of course.

              2. BettyD*

                Once during the exploding Samsung phone era, a Southwest flight attendant merrily suggested that owners of Samsung phones should kindly switch their phones off and fling them out the window for everyone’s protection. And that’s why I kinda love Southwest.

                1. Alex the Alchemist*

                  My personal favorite was hearing a flight attendant say when we landed, “Ok now get out!”

            2. Amaranth*

              Not to mention, she’s apparently in charge of safety oversight and keeping everyone engaged and learning new tasks…putting the patter on automatic probably frees up her attention to make sure nobody gets hurt!

            3. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

              As someone who used to play in the pit orchestra for musicals (though the runs on these were usually max of 2 weeks, not the months/years of professional productions), yeah, the repetition can get boring. But that’s the gig and I’m not going to suddenly demand that the cast switch up the show so that I have more fun. (Which would actually be terrifying, but that’s beside the point).

              1. Slow Gin Lizz*

                One year I got to play a Nutcracker gig, eight shows/rehearsals in three days. Nothing like playing a full run for a professional ballet company, which is more like 50 shows every December, but I imagine I might lose my mind. Or maybe not, since I do actually like the music for Nutcracker a lot.

                1. The Prettiest Curse*

                  All of Tchaikovsky’s ballet scores have some incredibly good tunes, but I imagine they are all completely unbearable if you have to play them that much.
                  Phantom of the Opera … now that’s a score that would drive me over the edge!

                2. ReallyBadPerson*

                  Haha! My son-in-law is a musician. He jokes that Covid might have saved his life because it shut down the Nutcracker one year and freed him from the misery of multiple deadly dull performances. I might suggest that he adopt “John” and “Jenn’s” attitude and maybe throw in some John Williams the next time he has to play? Yeah, that would work, right?

          2. yala*

            I honestly think that is hands down his funniest song. It’s just so utterly bleak and cheerful.

        2. SpaceySteph*

          Well dang, I was so incensed I commented before reading the comments and ALSO mentioned the Jungle Cruise.

      1. Lilo*

        I worked at a theme park and the music, especially the nightly fireworks music, got ingrained into my brain. But that’s just the job.

        1. B*itch in the corner of the poster*

          I worked at a zoo once. For the entire 31 days of December, the only music playing through the speakers at the front gate (where I worked) was “I want a hippopotamus for christmas”. 31 DAYS STRAIGHT

          1. curly sue*

            Wardrobe for Nutcracker for four years. I still get an adrenaline jolt in the mall when I hear my musical cue to go prep the dressing room for the rat battle quick-change.

            1. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

              My daughter performed in Nutcracker for 13 straight years and I worked backstage and I wince everytime a snippet comes on. Which is frequent around Christmas.

            2. shedubba*

              Pit orchestra in college. 20 performances of The Music Man, 10 of Oklahoma, plus two months of rehearsals during class time for each. 15 years later, I still have both shows pretty much completely memorized.

              1. yala*

                Lol, now I’m just thinking of my friend in high school who played trumpet in the marching band. For the Mardi Gras parade they decided their song would be “Boogie Shoes.”

                He had two notes.

                That he had to play.

                For three hours.

                1. Zap R.*

                  This is killing me. At least the drummers in “Bolero” only have to play the same thing for 15 minutes.

                2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  The Bassoon part to Pomp and Circumstance is not much better: one note all song on beat one of every measure…….I still despise that song.

                  Not much better was the five mile parade that ended up taking almost two hours to complete. Two straight hours of never ending looping of “It’s A Small World.” I still 30+ years later cannot do that ride.

                3. Industrial Tea Machine*

                  EVERY YEAR in orchestra some violinist would suggest Pachelbel’s canon. Every year us cellists would shut that down hard, but by the next year it would come up again. We finally started preemptively raising our hands during our annual “suggestions from the crowd” sessions and just saying “No to Pachelbel’s canon forever.”

                  On the other hand, the Imperial March from Star Wars is repetitive but makes you feel like a badass, so not all repetition is bad.

            3. Nina*

              I have a similar visceral response to songs in Les Miserables that tell me literally every chorus member is on their way to the dressing room and they all need a complete change of costume.

          2. Southern Ladybug*

            Wait – that song, on repeat, 31 days?

            That would be grounds for a legitimate ask for reprieve!!!

          3. Koalafied*

            I worked at an alternative clothing store in the mall that played these VHS tapes with maybe 45 minutes of music taken from the top 40 charts. Every 2 weeks they sent us a new tape and we were only ever supposed to play the current one, which the head manager enforced on the day shift. But as always in service, the night shift operated more pragmatically and the night manager kept the last 3 or so most recent tapes in the VCR closet so that we could switch them out and hear slightly more variety. They weren’t even hidden so the head manager may have even known what was up and even she knew deep down that it was a stupid corporate mandate and corporate wasn’t going to be sending secret shoppers at night.

          4. Former Retail Lifer*

            A friend drove an ice cream truck for a summer job when she was 19. It’s about 20 years later and she still talks about how that stupid music on repeat all day, every day drove her to insanity. She made it through that season but found a different job for the next year’s summer break because that music was part of the job. I can’t imagine Amy’s repeat jokes and anecdotes being anywhere NEAR as maddening as that or the Hippopotamus song all day.

          5. Kacihall*

            I worked at Macy’s several years ago. Christmas season, they had ten songs that would play on a loop. Which is fine; I don’t expect great variety from retail music. But one of the songs was Back Door Santa. It was HILARIOUS the first time. The second day, when I was in the little kids department? Not so funny.

            1. AnotherOne*

              I worked retail in a book store kid’s section in college and just after. The best thing our dept manager did was convince the store and district manager that kid’s should have it’s own cd player, the store speakers turned off and we should play the kids music the store sold.

              It sounds like hell. 8 hours a day of kids music?

              Sure, until you realized that we had total control over what CDs we played.

          6. EmKay*

            I worked one holiday season in a fast fashion clothes store at the mall. They had a single CD of Christmas music. Disco Duck was on it. I do not know why.

          7. Slow Gin Lizz*

            OMG I would have rage quit after about an hour of that. I can’t handle Christmas music at all and I HATE playing holiday pops concerts (but they pay the bills so I play them and try to keep my complaints to a minimum).

          8. Kelly*

            funny story….. a few years back, when Fiona the hippo was still a baby, I forwarded a Christmas themed instagram post with that song to my family. Well it wouldn’t stop playing on my Dad’s phone. To this day, several years later, he will not open any links, or play videos, from anyone on his phone.

          9. Elizabeth West*


            Not because I worked in a mall but because every year, some little kid at our rink would skate to it for the Christmas show. And coaches and skaters started picking and choreographing music for Christmas directly after Halloween, to ensure they got what they wanted before someone else nabbed it.

            See also “Suzy Snowflake.”

        2. Dust Bunny*

          Water park. We could tell what time it was by what song was playing and how many times we’d already heard it.

          I never, ever, want to hear “Kissed by a Rose” or “Friends in Low Places” again.

          1. Former Retail Lifer*

            Same in retail. It’s the same songs over and over again all day, and it’s even worse at Christmas because there are fewer song options. Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas” followed me through my entire 20 year retail career, at literally every store I ever worked at (from a department store to an office supply store to various clothing stores targeting all different demographics).

            1. rita*

              Yeah, I worked in a department store next to the juniors department, and corporate would pick themes for several weeks at a time. Which is why I know all of Abba’s greatest hits and the Grease soundtrack by heart.

            2. kitryan*

              I worked one holiday season at the Gap around 2005 and apparently used up all my good Karma because I actually liked the music that year. There were maybe 3 of 15 songs that we’d actually dance to when there weren’t customers around and none of them made me have murderous thoughts, and I’m not easygoing on that front – lots of songs/sounds bug me. So I don’t know how I escaped the curse of Xmas retail music hell and I totally get how lucky I was :)

            3. Watry*

              Christmas was better for variety but worse for quality (entirely awful covers of the pop Christmas songs). Halloween was better for quality and worse for variety. Hard to say which was better/worse.

            4. Anon Supervisor*

              I hate most Christmas music for this reason alone. Retail will nearly kill the Holiday Sprit for anyone who works in it for more than a year.

        3. Shakti*

          I worked for a small high end fashion boutique that had just opened and they had 6 songs on one cd that never changed. They could’ve used an iPod to expand the playlist, but no it’s the same 6 song on repeat hour after hour. I still wince 15 years later anytime I hear one

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I don’t even want to count how many rides I could spiel myself at this point, but I know the list includes Jungle Cruise, Kilimanjaro Safari, Spaceship Earth and It’s A Small World at the very least. :P

          1. yala*

            Isn’t the Kilimanjaro Safari different every time? I mean, more or less, because it depends on what the animals are doing.

            After a few rounds I about had the Star Tours safety spiel memorized, but it’s been a minute. (Sadly. I miss Disney. So badly. Want to go back. So broke.)

            1. Lenora Rose*

              Yes and no, I suspect. The route is the same, with lots of set places for chunks of patter. You just have to switch out a few pieces based on where you see the lions and what they’re doing (And of course, there’s a lot of hidden apparatus keeping them within a relatively controlled area so the lions aren’t in the same area as the giraffes, so it’s 2-5 minutes of the ride where your brain is on “probable lion spiel next”, not the whole thing.) it’s more cutting and pasting paragraphs than using a totally different script.

              Of course I say that as someone who experienced the ride once, and never as the driver, so I could be off base.

            2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              More or less, but I’ve been on it so many times that I know enough relevant animal facts (and ride facts/sequencing) to fill in the time :)

              Little Iturri Forest. Okapi is the only known relative of the giraffe, even though it looks like a zebra wannabe. Licks its own eyeballs. Discovered by western scientists in 1900. Bongos, the ghosts of the forest, reddish striped antelope. Greater kudu, brown antelopes, second biggest on the reserve. All girls, no horns. Saddlebilled storks, nine foot wingspan which is the same width as the truck canopy, named for the yellow saddle markings over their bills. Mate for life. Black rhino, smaller of the species here on the reserve, largely solitary. Very endangered, poached for their horns, which are made of the same keratin as your nails. Off to the Safi River! ;)

          2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Do not get me started on Its A Small World….that song is the most evil ear worm of all time.

            The person in high school marching band who had to play it on endless repeat for all Two Hours of the five mile parade.

        2. spartanfan*

          My son got the Jungle Cruise golden book, its one of my least favorite books to read and I love the ride.

          1. Lilo*

            Although boy, parenting is an extremely repetitive activity. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read “Room on the Broom” and we have to be in quadruple digits for times listened to “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”.

            1. Yoyoyo*

              We always have to read “Room on the Broom” directly after “Each Peach Pear Plum” because there’s a witch on a broom in that book.

            2. Irish Teacher*

              When my little cousin was a year and a half old, he had this book he loved and I read it to him so often, that I still have pages from it by heart even though he is pushing 30 now. I was 13 at the time and I’m now 41. I will add that I only saw my cousin in my summer holidays!

            3. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

              My oldest child had a period of time where “Dr. Seuss’s ABC’s” was the only book we were allowed to read. My husband and I can still recite the whole book. She’s 26.

              1. Foila*

                Ha, I thought you were one of my parents until you gave your daughter’s age – that book was my one and only – but about 10 years earlier.

              2. Hosta*

                I just turned 40 and my father can still recite ‘Bears in the Night’ from reading it to my sister and me so much when we were little.

                “DOWN Spook Hill, THROUGH the woods, BETWEEN the rocks…”

                1. Sandy Beach*

                  The sun did not shine.
                  It was too wet to play.
                  So we sat in the house all that cold, cold wet day.
                  I sat there with Sally, we sta there, we two……
                  My daughters are 36 and 38 and I can still do a dramatic reading of “Cat In the Hat” all the way through. They never ask me to, though.

            4. Kacihall*

              I am so thankful my child has finally learned all the words to We Don’t Talk About Bruno. For awhile he would just sing that line. Repeatedly. Over and over again.

              He still sings it repeatedly but listening to a six year old trying to sing all the words and all the parts is funny enough I don’t mind (yet.)

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Weirdly, Mini Orchestra is currently all about Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins or I Love Rock And Roll by Joan Jett. (They just finished Kindergarten)

                At least it’s classic rock, that works right?

    3. PollyQ*

      I wonder if Jenn cooks brand new dishes for every single meal, or if she sometimes repeats a recipe. This is such a bizarre complaint that I have to wonder if there’s something else going on, and this is just what Jenn and John have decided to fixate on. Regardless, Alison’s advice is the way to go, and LW, you do need to be prepared to let them go, unfortunately.

      1. Miss Muffet*

        I had this same thought! Do the others ever get sick of her pattern of meals, because surely she has one – probably the recipes that guests have raved about! It’s a pretty direct parallel.

      2. EPLawyer*

        This is actually a good way to present it. It would be like Amy complaining she has to see the guests served the same meals over and over again.

        Jenn and John have lost the plot here. Sure the whole business started out as a fun idea, but its a business FIRST. Not “have fun playing on the farm all day.” Its work. Amy is doing her job — and apparently doing it SPECTACULARLY. Do they want her to not be spectacular so fewer people want to come?

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Not to fuel the fire between them, but your comment inspired this thought:
          I’m guessing that there is “family meal” or something. I’m sure the Amy guest liaison isn’t running out for lunch everyday, or pulling out a brown bag while her visitors eat. I’m sure the food is phenomenal, but there’s ultimately a limit to what foods are available.
          Can you see the reverse?
          Amy tells OP that Jenn has to mix up the menu because she is sick of eating the same “welcome night meal” or the “X day lunch”?
          or Amy hates the smell of something, can Jenn not cook with garlic/cabbage/bacon/etc. so much?
          Yeah, she’ll jump right on that.

          1. fullaboti*

            Hmmm….now that you mention it, I wonder if that is what happened. Maybe Amy wanted to mix up the menu or at least eat something different from the guests and accidently offended Jenn?

            I did a Disney World backstage tour and we stopped for lunch at one of the restaurants that served everything family style. The servers brought our food and then brought a salad for the tour guide. He just happily explained that while he loved the restaurant, after awhile he grew tired of the meal and wanted something different. He was effusive with his praise of the servers and the food, and it made sense to all of us.

            To me it might be a perk of working at the inn that you could have something different than the guests to eat, but maybe Jenn saw it differently. Or maybe I’m off base and there is some other dynamic going on here.

            1. Hannah Lee*

              “Maybe Amy wanted to mix up the menu or at least eat something different from the guests and accidently offended Jenn”

              Even if that were true, there’s absolutely no world in which the appropriate response to that is for John and Jenn to gang up on Amy and complain about how she’s doing her job … when how she’s doing her job is COMPLETELY appropriate and gets rave reviews from their paying customers.

              1. fullaboti*

                I agree 100%! Sorry if it didn’t sound like I thought John and Jenn are being unreasonable weird jerk-faces.

            2. LinuxSystemsGuy*

              Was it that one in Frontier Land that serves Thanksgiving for every meal? Because I really loved that place and would *really* hate to have eat five lunches a week there….

              1. fullaboti*

                I think it was the Whispering Canyon Cafe. It was skillets of various BBQ style food and then the desert was a giant fruit cobbler in a skillet with ice cream. Even I wanted a salad after that!

            3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

              ooh, and I’m speculating on your speculation, but what if, part of the patter is a pun or a joke based on the food being served?
              Like a terrible pun about navy beans, “but you don’t have to salute!”
              and Jenn feels like it is a criticism of the menu and therefore of her.

      3. Koalafied*

        Not only a bizarre thing to complain about in the first place, but the words they’ve used to describe it seem pretty ridiculous – retelling stories is disrespectful and rude?? In what universe, even if we grant that it’s grating or annoying, is it disrespectful or rude?

        1. Koalafied*

          And related aside: I really get suspicious when people describe someone else as “disrespectful” because 9 times out of 10 it’s one of those people who think everyone else is always doing things at them, instead of for their own reasons that have nothing to do with the complainer. It’s rarely someone actually disrespecting anything other than the complainer’s delusion of having the right to boss people around.

        2. Jam*

          If part of her patter is a joke like “this is where you’ll have your dinner – I hope you like potatoes, Jen is Irish” maybe Jen would have grounds for being annoyed at getting that week after week. But I’m struggling to think how it could be “disrespectful” otherwise, and the issue there isn’t that she only has one Irish joke.

        3. Myrin*

          Yeah, I thought the same thing – even if Jenn had legitimate reasons to be annoyed (she doesn’t), I fail to see how she has legitimate reasons to feel disrespected.

        4. Spero*

          The most charitable read I have on this is that the story in some way involves Jenn – ex they walk into the kitchen, Amy tells the same story about a past carrot incident involving Jenn, Jenn is expected to nod and laugh about carrot incident. Jenn thinks that her being asked to muster the same level of enthusiasm over carrots time and time again is disrespectful of her time/role somehow?

        5. emmelemm*

          If retelling stories is disrespectful and rude, then my mom is going to jail for a thousand years, I’m just sayin’.

          1. MM*

            Everyone alive! We all have our go-to anecdotes even when we know we’re repeating ourselves, let alone as we get older! My god.

        6. yala*

          The closest I can think is that there are some people who think if you don’t remember every interaction with them in detail, that you clearly weren’t paying attention, and therefore you were disrespectful of their time or something.

          1. Migraine Month*

            Anyone who believes that would be able to tolerate me for about 10 minutes. For some reason, I have an excellent memory for stories, but not who told them to me, who I told them to, or who was with me when the story was told.

            Actually, it’s worse than that, I have detailed *wrong* memories. I’ll remember hearing the story from a different person than who actually told it to me, and I have no idea why.

            1. allathian*

              Yup, I’m the same way. Among my friends, I’m notorious for telling a cool story I heard somewhere to the person who originally told me the story…

        7. Coffee Bean Counter*

          Have they ever been to any tourist attraction with guides?? No one is making everything up and switching the script for 100% of what they say for tours. They are completely ridiculous. The guests are happy, that’s the business they are all in. I was a tour guide at a college and didn’t get annoyed at my fellow guide on the 3rd tour of the day when we said the same stuff.

      4. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        “Jenn, you need to stop using garlic every day, and John, we’re all really sick of the number 3, so skip that one for a while, ‘k?”

      5. Summer*

        This was my thought, that something else has to be going on between Amy and Jenn & John because this is so ridiculous. How do they not realize that the script is for the guests, Amy is a tour guide and repeating oneself is par for the course? I’m highly annoyed on Amy’s behalf and am wishing OP never spoke with her about Jenn and John’s absolutely unreasonable demands.

        OP also mentions that Jenn and John stepped back from performing customer-facing duties that they didn’t like. Do they no longer want to work for the business? Because they seem to have a lot of problems related to the guests and interactions with them. I really hope we get an update to this letter because I’m so curious as to how this will work out. I don’t see it ending well with the attitude coming from Jenn and John.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I wondered this myself. The letter made me think it’s some bitch-eating-crackers thing, because “I’m annoyed by the tour patter” just does not seem all that serious to me. Perhaps they had another disagreement the OP doesn’t know about.

          Maybe some personal boundaries were crossed and that’s what’s behind all this. I don’t know. Or maybe you’re correct and they’re tired of the business altogether but don’t want to say so.

    4. Empress Matilda*

      Exactly. And I would also say that J&J should not have the expectation that they’ll never be annoyed by another person at work! Honestly if this is the biggest problem they have, then they should count themselves lucky.

      Speaking of which, OP – do you know if this actually is the biggest problem they have? I know you said there haven’t been problems with fairness etc before – but this is such a weird thing to complain about, it makes me wonder if there’s something else going on with them.

    5. Green great dragon*

      Absolutely. Like front of house staff complaining the actors spout the same script every night.

      I don’t really see why the CFO and the chef need to encounter this though? You said you reduced their client contact, but can you take the CFO right out and the chef as far away as possible from the Amy-led bits, even if it means another staff member has to pick up either a bit of Amy’s work or a bit of Jenn’s.

      1. MK*

        I was thinking this reading the letter. My understanding of an executive chef is someone who runs the kitchen and comes out at the end of the meal to receive compliments. How much time does Jenn spent with the guests and Amy? And why is the CFO going along with the guests to listen to Amy’s stories?

        1. Empress Matilda*

          I can see going along once in a while if you have a free afternoon, or if your family are guests on the tour. But that would happen maybe once-twice a year? At most?

          I wouldn’t necessarily ask *why* J&J are joining the tours, but I would certainly ask *how often* they’re joining, if they’re at the point of “continually complaining” about the scripts. Don’t they have their own jobs to do?

        2. bamcheeks*

          I would guess it depends how big each group is and how big the “restaurant” part is. If Jenn’s catering for 20+ people, then yes, she’s going to be in the kitchen most of the time and not client facing. But if it’s a group of six and it’s designed to feel like a “family” meal you can see she’d be out front more, maybe even eating with the guests.

          But I agree that even if it’s the latter she needs to reframe from “actual family & friends social occasion” to “part of a staged performance of a social family meal”.

        3. oranges*

          It’s likely less that CFO John is interacting with the guests and hearing Amy talk and MORE that John is married to Chef Jenn and has to hear her complain about this as her spouse.

        4. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          Yeah, I was wondering that, too. When and where is this happening? Is it in places where they’re doing their jobs, or are John and Jenn just hanging out in places where Amy is working? Given that it’s a small business, I’m assuming that maybe John and Jenn contribute other work on top of finances and managing the kitchen; like are they out caring for plants as well?

          Regardless, I don’t think LW should bend over backwards to keep John and Jenn from hearing Amy’s shpiels. Very little good comes from bowing down to unreasonable requests/demands.

      2. Morbius*

        My reading of the letter is that Amy is essentially practicing her spiel on the other employees.
        So when there are no guests around, she’s constantly repeating the same anecdotes and jokes.
        Which probably would be annoying, but she gives a pretty good explanation for it, so they need to just deal with it.

        1. MK*

          Well, no. Amy doesn’t get to use the other employees as audience for her rehearsals; if she is repeating the stories when there are no guests around for practice, she needs to find another way. To continue the example of turning the tables on Jenn, it wouldn’t be reasonable to demand that Amy, or anyone, serve as a taster while she is working on her recipes. It’s not your coworkers’ obligation to help you keep your job skills sharp, if they find it a burden.

          1. MM*

            I agree that this would be problematic if it were happening, but I also find it incredibly, vanishingly unlikely that it’s happening.

    6. Anonym*

      Yeah. And… how is it disrespectful??? That’s deeply confusing. I know they’re all friends, and it can be hard to realize that someone you otherwise like is being unreasonable, but Jenn and John really, really are. OP, good on you for reaching out for guidance, and I hope you can make J & J see that Amy is serving the guests, exactly as she’s meant to. You ignore your coworkers giving the same pitch over and over, and telling the same anecdotes again and again. It’s normal in other work environments (I can probably do a straight 60 minute set of my last boss’ greatest hits!), and it’s especially normal and effective here.

      1. many bells down*

        Yeah “disrespectful” is the WEIRDEST word choice. Boring? Tedious? Sure, maybe. Flight attendants probably get tired of repeating the safety procedures, too. “Disrespectful” makes it sound like Amy is targeting them with her patter somehow, when she’s not.

        1. Lilo*

          Exactly. How do they not understand that Amy’s interactions with the guests are simply not about them?

      2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

        I read through it a couple of times thinking I must be misunderstanding, and the concern is about how Amy talks with THEM not the guests. Telling the same jokes over and over in the staff meeting or repeating the same anecdotes at dinner. Like a boring uncle who digs up that fishing story every time you get together. Because otherwise it is nonsensical.

        1. learnedthehardway*

          I got that same impression, which I could understand as odd, but I don’t see it as disrespectful or rude to coworkers per se. Tedious, perhaps.

          Maybe it is the fact that Amy says the same things to Jenn and John that she says to guests – perhaps they feel like she’s rehearsing “at” them? Perhaps Amy needs to practice in front of a mirror, if she needs to keep her spiel straight. I could understand that she’s got a multi-day spiel going on with groups of guests staying for a week – that must be challenging to keep going. And that would require some rehearsal – but perhaps not to / at Jenn.

          (My family get annoyed when I repeat stories I’ve told them previously. I don’t get it – those stories are family history, and my parents and grandparents told them to me multiple times. Oral history for the win, people!)

      3. AnotherOne*

        I wonder if disrespectful is really another word for feeling like Amy is getting all of the attention because Amy is… well, the face of the business.

        Jenn may make delicious food that people rave about and John may make sure the bills get paid. But who everyone remembers is Amy.

        how much of this is just plain old simple jealousy?

        1. MM*

          First bit of plausible rather than wild speculation I’ve seen so far (not dinging the commenters particularly–a story like this almost invites us to write fanfiction to try to make it make sense). This could be something.

      4. My Useless 2 Cents*

        The only thing I can think of is that one of Amy’s “amusing” anecdotes involves something Jenn found embarrassing. ???? Like Jenn, by mistake, seasoned a dish with sugar one night instead of salt and everyone was giving the food weird looks. I could see something like that would be an amusing tour guide story but deeply embarrassing for a chef. If that is the case and Jenn asked Amy to stop telling that story but Amy won’t change her script, then that would border on the disrespectful. Without knowing the details of Amy’s script, it is hard to evaluate.
        If it’s just that Jenn is tired of hearing the same story, told the exact same way, for the 500th time, then Jenn is being ridiculous or it’s a BEC situation and the problem really lies elsewhere.

        1. oranges*

          I suspect if it was something embarrassing or inappropriate that Amy specifically said, it would have been included. This sounds like a BEC situation.

          If this situation is untenable, OP needs to decide who she can’t live without.

    7. Anon all day*

      I worked at a theme park that had set parades every day, and within a couple weeks, I could mouth along with the songs/scripts. I never knew I could demand that they change it up each time!

      1. Mari*

        I worked at a tourist attraction more than 20 years ago. I can still do the entire elevator speech by heart, in the required time frame (56 seconds).

        I’m also a teacher. Guess what? My ‘Intro to Communication. Theory’ lesson? It doesn’t change year to year. My ‘Here’s how you use a semicolon’ mini-instructions? After a year+of digital learning, my kid went back to school and when their teacher asked if anyone knew what a semicolon was, my kid put up their hand and gave my instructions word for word!! (Tells you how many times I had to remind students how to use a semicolon!)

        That’s how the human brain works!!!

    8. Allornone*

      Yeah, I would EXPECT Amy to reuse stories. It keeps the experience consistent across patrons. Plus, GUESTS LOVE HER. By extension, they love the stories. And that is the whole freaking point. The guest experience is what is key here. If they are happy, then the business does well. Obviously, worker fulfillment matters too, but this is so not a hill worth dying on. Heck, it’s not a hill worth sitting on.

      I’m a grant writer for a nonprofit. I constantly reuse language from prior grants and amend it to what I’m working on currently. I reuse anecdotes and constituent stories and tailor them to a funder’s focus. Has my boss, when reviewing my work, re-read some words and stories in the past? Yep. Does it make for more slightly boring reading? To him, yep. Are my funders moved by the new-to-them words and stories enough to give us money? Again, yep. And that last yep is the yep that matters.

      1. ferrina*

        I’ve worked for a boss who wanted something new in every thing I made that went out (even though I was sending reports to external audiences every other week). It didn’t matter that it was a different audience each time, it had to be new to them to be “innovative”. It was impossible! Not to mention a huge time suck.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          What an awful approach your boss had!
          1) it wastes staff time. Why come up with a brand! new! way! of describing a product or service every time instead of using ones you already know are effective?
          2) it is a huge de-motivator and will probably increase the odds of mediocre, “good enough” content, week after week … I’m imagining especially with writers, content creators. Why waste any time trying to develop a great turn of phrase or the best, most effective way of communicating a theme or product benefits when you know you’re just going to have to, arbitrarily, come up with a new version next week?

      2. Anon again*

        I’m a fancy lawyer, and a large portion of my work is a high end cut and paste job.

    9. Kendra*

      I’m not even sure why John and Jenn are involved in this at all. Is Amy leading tours through the kitchen? I can kind of see that, if they’re going for a “farm-to-table” thing. Maybe that’s why Jenn feels “disrespected:” she doesn’t like having customers in her space, but since she knew that was going to be part of the deal from the beginning, she’s feels like she can’t complain about that. Instead, she’s deflecting the blame onto Amy, and trying to make it about her patter (which is completely normal, but not something a lot of chefs would have experienced before). Maybe they need to talk about modifying or eliminating that part of the tour (if that’s what’s happening)?

      1. Empress Matilda*

        Oh, that’s a good thought about the kitchen tours. Although I’m still curious about John’s role in all this – does Amy take tours through the accounting office?

    10. Nanani*

      This exactly.
      You don’t get to complain about hearing Let it Go 500 times a day when you’re the person running the Frozen ride at Disney.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        And yes, it sucks if you are at the soft pretzel stand next to the Frozen ride and have to hear it all day, but the Frozen ride isn’t playing Let It Go at you. You are not being disrespected of all things!

    11. Cat Tree*

      It’s so weird that it makes me wonder if those two have ever held a job before this one.

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        Seriously. The complaint is “focusing on the guests’ needs instead of ours”?! The guests are paying to be there, you’re getting paid, adjust your expectations accordingly.

    12. Beth*

      I had one workplace that overlooked a small, dreary fun fair — a few rides and a couple of snack stands. Every summer, when we had the windows open so that we wouldn’t slowly fry in our own sweat, we could hear the exact same barker’s patter, the exact same music, over and over and over all day. I loathed it with every fiber of my being.

      But you know what? It never crossed my mind to go down there and tell the barker to stop repeating himself. Because that would’ve been totally effing nutso. I did eventually get better headphones for my walkman (dating myself, yes, I know).

    13. EZ Like Sunday Morning*

      So I did the Disney college internship and drove the Friendship boats in both the World Showcase Lagoon and the route to the resorts and Disney Studios (back when it was still MGM) and had to do my little spiel multiple times a day. Repetition was ESSENTIAL to having a smooth delivery while getting all of the information out.

    14. Robin Ellacott*

      Yes! It’s genuinely so strange to think you have grounds to complain about something like this.

      In my office I constantly hear staff explaining our process to clients and responding to their questions, and of course they use similar scripts each time! When I interview I often use the same examples and anecdotes to explain our work and priorities to candidates. And so on.

      It would be really bizarre for anyone to complain about it. This happens, I imagine, at almost every workplace.

    15. Emily*

      Right?! I was recently hiking on a trail with lots of horse tours- heard the guides delivering the same spiel with almost every group I encountered. It’s pretty much how it goes.

    16. Middle Name Danger*

      I came to comment that I used to work at Disney World. I said and heard the same commentary day in and out. Now I work in music and it’s not as exact but still similar. That’s part of any tourism or entertainment business.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yup. The spiels never change, because the information never changes but the people coming through DO change – and they all need to hear the same basic information.

    17. quill*

      Have they seriously never worked somewhere where some guest interactions were rehearsed? Or do they have this problem because they did not think about the practicalities of working with a friend and separating professional overhearing of rehearsed bits from personal conversations?

    18. firestarter11*

      Right?? And I can just imagine if they’re being this ridiculous, they’re probably back there making faces or acting annoyed when Alice does her spiel with guests there. Eventually, guests are going to pick up on the tension, which isn’t good for business… If I were at a luxury farm retreat thing and the chef was overly annoyed with the tour guide, I’d certainly be put off.

    19. JSPA*

      The food people are about the only people who don’t need to do this–after all, they’re not (or rarely) teaching people how to eat, and their “repetitive skill” is “cooking and presenting food reliably and well,” not “presenting information and a verbal experience.”

      Maybe it would work to point out to Jenn and John how irksome it would be if someone got on their case for, say, poaching tomatoes in the same way, from one day to the other; or frying eggs in the same dang pan; or not switching up which burners they use; or rearranging the pantry daily.

      After all, who wants to always find the butter in the butter dish, when it could instead be hanging out in the soap dish, or chilling with the cukes?

      If Amy SOUNDED scripted, that would be different. But then the reviews would not be so excellent. Ditto if Amy were using one particular story that makes Jenn and John uncomfortable. Or one turn of phrase that reminds them of a hated ex.

      “Please rescript this one thing” is a fine ask. But, “don’t ever recycle material”? Nobody who’s talking in front of people for a living–whether it’s comedy or teaching or improv or preaching–has all-new material, all the time. The skill is making it sound fresh; not rewriting your presentation.

      For that matter, even their best professors did this, when teaching more than one section of a class, or teaching a class over the years.

    20. Momma Bear*

      Have…they never been to such a place? I guarantee you that any tour guide type person has a “script” they repeat in every room, at every event, etc. It’s almost like a longer version of a receptionist saying “Hello and welcome to xyz company. How may I direct your call?” I had to say that so much I used to answer my home phone that way out of habit. This is Amy’s job. Maybe they should also think of it like any repetitive task they do – cooking the same food or running the same reports. They are way out of line in the expectation that she wouldn’t have a tailored script for the customers *for the company’s benefit.*

      I hope that OP can get them to see reason (or use earbuds) but other than that I’m on Amy’s side. She’s done something positive and shouldn’t be forced to change because the other staff heard her jokes before. I also think OP needs to look at it as a business thing. Yes, it might be hard to replace any one of them, but what if someone got hit by a bus? There should always be an option.

    21. Books and Cooks*

      Yes! And to actually say Amy is being “disrespectful” of THEM, by not changing her very successful guest-delighting methods so the cook has more fun? Good lord.

    22. Unaccountably*

      I am so confused by “over-focusing on clients to the detriment of co-workers.” I do not understand their perspective on how capitalism works.

  2. Anya the Demon*

    Jenn and John are SO off base that I wonder if something else is going on here. Amy is a tour guide. Tour guides give tours and have scripts and routines. It’s one thing if they were like “Ugh, it’s kinda annoying hearing the same stories over and over again.” But to call it disrespectful and rude? I mean that’s bizarre and such an overreaction. This is part of Amy’s job, and Amy does it so well because she has it down to a science. It’s like if Amy said she wanted Jen to cook an entirely new menu every day and then called her disrespectful and rude for not doing so. You may have to lose Jenn and John over this because they are being irrational.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      That’s the thing – it’s so odd that you have to wonder if there’s something else and they don’t want to say what that is, so this is the only thing they can point to. To feel as though it’s being rude and disrespectful – what? Is Jenn jealous of something? What’s really going on?
      If you wanted to, a few group counseling sessions might get this resolved once and for all but if not – Jenn needs to go and if John has to go then so be it. Finding a chef and a finance person isn’t going to be hard.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          Coaches then. Someone to mediate the situation and get to the root cause because I don’t think it’s about Amy’s ‘schpeil’. If it’s a small group of owners it makes sense – I don’t think it would work with a larger group of coworkers.

        2. Fluffyfish*

          It’s not completely unheard of in situations like this. But it’s a very narrow set of circumstances like that it is applicable.

          Such as business partners not getting along.

          In fact if you search therapy for business partners you’d be surprised the number of things that come up.

          I supposed there are coaches too, but that’s a non-regulated field so you really don’t know what you are getting.

          1. S*

            I actually have a friend who does this exact thing – she’s a relationship coach, and that includes business partners. There are some well known and respected coaching certifications out there, so if you do your research, you should be able to find someone reputable.

        3. thelettermegan*

          Ooh I think there was a whole documentary about Metallica going into group therapy b/c resentment over the years had crushed their productivity.

      1. Tobias Funke*

        I cannot fathom a clinician wanting to deal with this. Maybe some other kind of coach or facilitator would be willing to. But this is not Golden Girls and clinicians do not just randomly do “group” counseling to mediate workplace disputes.

        1. fieldpoppy*

          Coaches do, though — and it’s not uncommon. Work is relational, and lots and lots of people need support in those relationships. That said, I’m a coach and it’s very HARD to do work stuff. So I understand why most coaches don’t.

          1. Hills to Die on*

            Yes – that is what I meant. I knew there was someone who does this. Otherwise, Jenn and John need to go if this doesn’t go away with OP’s attempts to squash it.

      2. BethRA*

        “Is Jenn jealous of something? ”

        I’d bet she absolutely is jealous of the reviews and kudos that Amy gets. Amy has more direct interaction with the customers so she’s probably getting a lot more praise from them.

      3. Software Engineer*

        It does feel a bit like a “B eating crackers” situation

        (There’s a meme about how when you dislike someone EVERYTHING they do is further proof how terrible they are—they can be just eating a cracker and it feels like they’re eating a cracker AT you just to be annoying)

        1. Julia*

          Someone bringing up BEC, the Gift of Fear, or misophonia is how you know you’re in an AAM comments section! :)

      4. IndustriousLabRat*

        They definitely need to sit down as a group and talk about expectations, with or without a facilitator present. Ultimately, LW is the majority stakeholder and has veto power, so a facilitator would just… make the conversation smoother, and show an openness to listen. But Jenn and John are making this unnecessarily difficult, and there’s a risk of tension being perceived by guests if it gets too fraught. And that is NEVER a good thing…

        After all, it’s AGROtourism, not AGGROtourism!

        1. Calamity Janine*

          well if it was AGGROtourism, then as party healer they should be very glad to have the tank grabbing all that customer aggro; sure those abilities being spammed are monotonous, but it’s just how you play the class –

          ( exits stage left, pursued by a bear and also a group of people angered over the incomprehensible mmorpg gaming terms employed for a cheap joke )

      5. Dust Bunny*

        I’m wondering if they’re touring through Jenn’s workspace and it’s disruptive, but she feels like she can’t say anything about it because she’s not supposed to exclude guests.

        1. firestarter11*

          They probably are touring through the kitchen, but, I mean, sorry Jenn, tough it out?? You wouldn’t have a job as a chef if it weren’t for the whole weekend thing and the tours.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Sure, she might. Maybe not here, but *most* chef jobs don’t include customer tours.

    2. frame*

      very good analogy. recipes and menus take time and care to develop, just like a tour script.

    3. Heather*

      Yeah I also got caught up at “disrespectful.” Like, what? If that makes any sense at all, I need OP to come clarify it for me.

      1. Migraine Month*

        When I got to the point that they were complaining that their *Head of Guest Services* “over-focuses on the clients to the detriment of her coworkers”, my jaw dropped. What do they imagine her job is?

    4. Hamster Manager*

      Yeah ‘disrespectful and rude’ is really a bizarre take on this. ‘Annoying’ sure. I’m a story-repeater because I’m forgetful, I know it’s annoying and it’s fine if people interrupt me like “yes you have told me this”.

      Why wasn’t their reaction to be like “omg AMY this again? haha you know you’ve told me this like 10 times already?” and make it a fun friend joke? John and Jenn are feeding off one another, turning a mildly annoying series of interactions into ‘disrespect’.

      Also it sounds like they’re tired of simply overhearing this stuff? Like, ok??? Is this your first job? People in all jobs use scripts their coworkers are bound to overhear. It’s not something to care about at all.

    5. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I agree. Is the script something that entertains the guests at Jenn and John’s, or any other employee’s expense? Are any of the jokes or anecdotes embarrassing to any of the employees, or make it seem like the other’s report to Amy instead of being peers? If not, then they are being really weird. But it might be worth the OP’s time if they shadowed Amy’s routine for a bit to find out (if they haven’t already).

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        I’m guessing that the stories might actually be funny mishaps and shenanigans about the farm — ie. “Watch out for the big white goat. There was the time that Jenn bent over to pick carrots and Lucy the Goat got out of his pen and butted her face-first into the compost pile….baaaaaah-hahaha.” Could be very entertaining for the guests to hear all about the farm life, but disrespectful for Jenn and she would rather that story got retired…”but it’s soooooo fuuuuunnnny!”

        …Maybe I’ve been watching videos about Emmanuel the Emu at Knuckle Bump Farms and it’s hilarious on my end, but maybe not always for the humans that live with him.

        1. Princesss Sparklepony*

          Emmanuel, don’t do it!
          But my favorite is Don’t choose violence today!

    6. not a doctor*

      TBH I wonder if it’s just that they’re at BEC levels of annoyance with her and somehow making that a Her problem in their minds and not a Them problem. Especially if they keep talking about it and reinforcing it with each other. OP didn’t help, unfortunately, by treating it like a valid complaint.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        The complaint is so bizarre I suspect Jenn is at BEC stage with Amy and has transferred that feeling to her husband.

      2. Anya the Demon*

        I agree. Good framing. This is a “them” problem they have to figure out how to handle.

      3. All The Words*

        The BEC problem is exactly what popped into my mind. They just don’t like Amy and this is how they’ve decided to act on that.

        I know who I’d be supporting.

      4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        My read was very much “J&J have reached BEC so you won’t solve this by concentrating on the stories.”

    7. Smithy*

      I agree that I wonder if something else is going on – like Jenn is working in an open kitchen space is finding that level of being on display frustrating/irritating?

      I used to fundraise for a small nonprofit, where a very common part of what I’d do with donors who visited our office was to provide a “tour”. As the nonprofit’s work was legal and very technical, I was heavily scripted to make sure that as I simplified language I didn’t inadvertently say things that weren’t true. Over time I did become more relaxed and spontaneous, but the gist of the tour was deeply repetitive and did go into my coworkers working space.

      If this was a tour I was doing every day of the week, (as opposed to once, maybe twice a month), I can see easily becoming the most irritating person in the office. While a solution might just be to say “tough it up, she’s giving this tour to donors who’s money we need” – it would have also been worth looking at the value of every donor receiving that tour and finding a way to make that option less disruptive and less common. Make it an option for donors only giving XYZ much, or scheduling tours to happen with a few donors at a time to reduce the frequency.

      If part of what is irritating Jenn is that this tour is going through the kitchen or the open kitchen makes her feel like she is an attraction in a show (as opposed to a Chef) – then that might be a better way to focus on why the irritation is so high and also how to value what Amy is doing. Perhaps the kitchen tour happens with a sous chef instead of Jenn? The kitchen tour is dropped in favor of something else and the kitchen tour reserved for guests who pay a higher premium? These are guesses, but I do just wonder if this is a case where Jenn feels that she can’t escape Amy’s job and doesn’t want to feel like she’s such a regular part of it. And what feels rude, is that she feels like a prop or example as opposed to a colleague.

      1. JustMyImagination*

        I’m wondering if it’s not a tour but maybe they help prepare the food. Like they go into the kitchen and churn butter after they’ve milked the animals. In which case, they could still has a sous chef take over that portion of the event or maybe Amy hands the group off completely to the kitchen staff and bows out for the hour or so they’re in the kitchen working. I imagine the hundredth time Jenn hears Amy tell guests to “shake it like a polaroid picture” while half-singing would get pretty grating.

        1. Smithy*

          Exactly – this is conjecture – but I do think why it’s worth digging a bit. Because this is a complaint that reads as BEC, but might be tied to something real. And if the larger desire is to preserve the partnership and working relationship – then knowing what the real thing is can help identify a genuine solution.

          In the case of my tours, going to a situation where I’m giving them every day – if it turns out that some of those donors were making contributions as low as $10, then there really is room for pushback. If guests making butter is a fun activity but disrupts/irritates Jenn – maybe there’s a very easy other place to do that?

      2. Dust Bunny*

        I suspect this is it: She’s having to work *and* perform at the same time. Like, you can’t just work, you have to make sure you don’t have RBF because you’re concentrating, so guests aren’t put off. Or you have to answer questions about the food and prep while you’re trying to focus.

        Maybe the kitchen needs to be less of a guest feature overall.

        1. somanyquestions*

          Or maybe she isn’t suited for her job if she dislikes it. Changing s successful business model because one person finds is annoying isn’t necessarily a great plan.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Or they could back off how much time clients spend in the kitchen. Kitchens are busy, in close quarters (unlike working out side), and require a lot of supervision. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to decide that visitors don’t need to as much immersion in this particular aspect.

    8. Lacey*

      Yeah, it made me think of my time working at Old Navy. I heard the same songs over and over and it was enough to make me want to lose my mind. But it would be really weird to consider it disrespectful, even though it would have been much easier for ON to have varied playlists than for Amy to come up with new stories all the time!

      1. WellRed*

        Nobody who worked at Borders when Aretha put out a Christmas album has ever fully recovered from that season.

        1. Books and Cooks*

          Ha! I worked at a movie theater back when the Kevin Costner Robin Hood movie came out. At its height, we showed it in two of our theaters, about half an hour apart. Of course, when the movie ended, the doors of each theater opened so we heard that Bryan Adams “Everything I Do, I do it For You,” song over the credits. We also played the soundtrack in the lobby; the full soundtrack is only about forty minutes long and contains that song. We were hearing that &*$#! song three or four times an hour, every hour, over the course of an eight-hour shift.

          None of us liked the song to begin with. I still cannot stand to hear it.

          1. allathian*

            Ha, that takes me back. Granted, that song is nowhere near my favorite Bryan Adams song, but way back then I spent the whole movie waiting for that song, and I was so disappointed that I had to sit through the credits to hear it.

            OTOH, in spite of the fact that James Cameron was one of my favorite directors for a long time, I didn’t see Titanic until I started dating my husband in 2005, when I finally saw it on VHS on a crappy 14 in portable TV. I refused to go see it in theater because I absolutely loathed the theme song, and when Titanic came out, it was everywhere. Whenever “My Heart Will Go On” came on the radio, I switched to another station. I still can’t bear to listen to it, or any other Céline Dion song, to this day.

    9. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      It really is weird. The guests are the ones who are paying to hear the stories and, unless they are repeat guests, it will be the first time they hear them. J&J need to learn how to tune Amy out same way you tune out the information desk/receptionist/trainers/salespeople/fundraisers if you sit near them at work. Sometimes people’s entire jobs are to repeat themselves over and over and over.

      LW, please send an update!

    10. kiki*

      I feel like the root of the annoyance is likely that Amy is being raved about more than the rest of leadership since she’s the most customer-facing (and doing an excellent job). So Jenn and John are already a bit annoyed about that and then when all the guests are laughing at a joke Amy’s told hundreds of times they’re like, “she’s not that funny, she uses the same joke every time!” Then John and Jenn are able to feed off each other’s annoyance without the reality check that repeating jokes and anecdotes is a normal part of Amy’s job as a tour guide.

      LW needs to step in and give John and Jenn that reality-check. LW should also apologize to Amy for asking her to switch things up unnecessarily.

      1. Koalafied*

        “she’s not that funny, she uses the same joke every time!”

        I’ve heard people complain before about a stand-up comic reusing material! Sure, there are a few unicorns out there who just go up on stage and riff on something different every time and do it well enough to have become famous, but the overwhelming majority of comics reuse their material and refine it along the way, even the parts that are scripted to sound like a spontaneous/idle thought. Every word is chosen, things that work are kept, and things that don’t work are dropped, because iterating on something good is one of the best ways to make something great.

        1. kiki*

          Right! Fully improvisational comedy can be stellar and some people prefer that to scripted routines, but on any given night it may flop. That’s okay in improv because people know what they’re signing up for, but for tour groups, you want every group to have a great experience.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            As someone with a degree in drama who did a lot of improv, I can confirm that both comedy and drama improv can either be great or totally awful. That’s because people are making it up as they go along! And so much depends on the audience and how they react too. There are just so many variables.

          2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I once went to see the same local improv group pretty much every week for over a year. (It was to the point that they all recognized me, and at least one called on me from the audience when my hand was not raised because no one volunteered a suggestion and they “knew I’d have something”.) They were funny, the admission was cheap, and I didn’t have anything else going on on Tuesday nights.

            Anyway, even improv groups reuse some things and have some set structures. They have certain improv forms that they’re going to use, and some smaller jokes that sneak in pretty much every week when the moment strikes and that I was able to anticipate would happen (“oh, they’re doing ‘freeze’ and two actors are in such-and-such situation – Other Actor is here this week and will totally going to clap in to do the joke he always does with that unless someone else gets there first”). And that’s in a performance type specifically dedicated to making it up as you go along!

            Taking audience suggestions or using some other kind of randomizer is key for improv to keep it from descending into the same set of scripted bits each time if you’re doing it regularly, and most tours won’t have that. All I really expect from a tour guide is enough expertise to go off-script when asked an appropriate but uncommon question. (Expectations for fielding off-script questions are higher at something like this kind of agrotourism place where I’d expect the person giving the tour to be knowledgeable about the farm and the business as compared to what I’d expect from someone working at a theme park with a script they probably didn’t get to choose and timing cues they had to meet, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the issue they’re having with Amy’s scripts.)

        2. Sandi*

          I went on a tour years ago and one of the other tourists made a really funny joke at our first meal together. His wife calmly said “It’s funny the first night, but it will be less funny next week” in a way that made me think she must have a lot of patience to have been married to him for decades and to hear the same jokes over and over again.

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        I think you make a really important point about Jenn and John potentially feeding off each other’s annoyance. It’s come up on AAM before how when a few people create a vortex of complaining, people will generally end up angrier than when they started because they all reinforce the others’ complaints. (This is different from letting off steam – time-limited complaining, openness to solutions, then moving forward).

        1. Warrior Princess Xena*

          The fact that they’re a married couple, so they then go home and still see each other and then go to work again and continue seeing each other, is probably not helping. I think a lot of people found over the last few years that actually spending 24/7 with another person without a break is totally exhausting, no matter how much you love that person, and it’s come up both on this site and on Captain Awkward that having a significant other who works at the same place you do means that you don’t get a break and everything always follows you.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Something my grandparent’s friends said to each other when they were all retired comes to mind, “I married you for better or worse, not lunch. Go get a hobby please.”

            It was funny, but probably also very true.

    11. UKDancer*

      Yes. I worked as a tour guide when I was a student and I had set jokes that I told at different places. They didn’t vary much between parties because there were only a limited number of funny tales. So I always told the Oliver Cromwell joke in the library and the one about the lord of the manor who knocked down and rebuild most of the village when we looked at his picture.

      I mean I’m sure if you had to listen to it repeatedly it probably would have been dull but tourists don’t. They only hear the tales once.

        1. UKDancer*

          OK this works better in the context of the stately home because you have to imagine yourself in an old library. Basically Oliver Cromwell came there with a troop of horse looking for the (Royalist) owner of the house. The owner was hiding himself away and had left his rather redoubtable sister in charge. She let Cromwell in and his men searched the house. Then it was late so they had to stay over camping in the grounds. She didn’t trust Cromwell so let him sleep in the library on the uncomfortable settee but kept 2 pistols on him all night to make sure he behaved himself and didn’t even let him use the privy all night (cue laughter).

          In the morning he was in such a bad mood because he didn’t get any action and was denied the privy that he shot some royalist prisoners against the gatehouse wall (point to gatehouse dramatically from window). Their ghosts allegedly still can be seen on the anniversary of their execution and sometimes you can hear their screams and gunfire (gasps from audience). [I omitted the bit about the ghosts if the audience looked very serious / sceptical]

          I mean it doesn’t sound funny when I write it down but it worked quite well when you had a group of tourists.

          1. Anonforthisone*

            I give a guided tours around some of our sites.

            Yep agree.

            You better believe I reuse the ‘always chose the losing side in the civil war’ joke for one site, or the ‘owner bitching about his cousin Teddy Roosevelt ‘ for another site.

            FoH have never complained about hearing the same references (they use themselves for brief intros :) )
            The complainers here are absolutely ridiculous.

          2. Rain's Small Hands*

            Thanks. Cromwell (and I’m an American) was an ass, so if there is any truth to the “spent all night on an uncomfortable sofa holding his bladder” that’s worth it. (Though I feel sorry about the Royalists he shot). I like the sister as well.

            (Anyone who gets rid of a king to make himself a king in all but name while claiming to abolish the monarchy is an ass. Get rid of it or don’t, but don’t set yourself up to take on the role and then have your idiot son succeed you. Sometimes I think its a good think Washington never had biological children – or frankly blood relatives he liked – I suspect that it would have been harder to turn down the role).

    12. thisgirlhere*

      It makes me worry that they’re trying to push her out on purpose. Perhaps they want to be the stars or own more of the business, whatever it is. But this seems like when someone wants to break up and harps on a very silly thing to get the other person to end it.

    13. HoHumDrum*

      I work in a job with these kinds of “scripts”. I think people don’t always appreciate how much practice and scripting it actually requires to come off as natural, breezy, and fun when in this type of job! Truly you must hone your conversations and patter to get the vibe just right, Amy is a professional and Jenn and John are loons.

      I truly don’t get their issue- when my coworker is doing their script instead of being bored I get to zone out, able to trust I know what’s being said so I don’t need to be as focused as I would be otherwise. This complaint is so weird I really do have to wonder if they just don’t like Amy and are using this to bully her.

      1. kiki*

        I think what some folks don’t realize is that having a great script that’s down pat often allows the guide to personalize the experience for guests in other ways. If I were coming up with an original story to explain why we do X farming technique, I would have no bandwidth to watch the group, make sure they’re all following, see who might need some additional explainers, etc.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          Exactly! Having the core presentation already in place allows the tour guide or leader to react to group dynamics – if you have a SME or ‘splainer in your group, or people who react to every shiny thing, or bicker among themselves, you can rearrange parts of the script to pull focus back, or to underscore a point or to give an opening for someone in the group to share something themselves.

          It also gives you a toolkit to respond to whatever unexpected thing might happen along the tour … a piece of equipment doesn’t work as planned when you’re demonstrating how bushels of apples are peeled and cored? While you’re un-jamming it, instead of going “um, um, um, hang on a minute” and stressing while your group just waits in boredom, you can smoothly launch into your spiel about the history of apple varieties in the area, how farmer Fred from the next county came across a delicious sport growing in his hay field and that’s how the best-est most well know apple of the region came to be. Because you know it by heart and don’t have to think about it while you’re kick-starting the corer.

        2. Kay*

          This! I’m not even in the tourism industry – think more legal/compliance – so knowing that I say the same things in certain circumstances pretty much guarantees that all of the required information is conveyed. Knowing I can do a core part of my job correctly even if I’m asleep is a big relief sometimes.

          I’ve been doing this for so long even if I slip up, my path to get back on track is pretty standardized too. If Amy has to be able to speak eloquently to groups of tours (presumably this is part of it-most people like well spoken speakers!) then the success of the business depends on her practicing to do this well and be able to smoothly respond to different situations and personalities (on multi day tours no less!). Any kind of speaking out loud takes skill, repetition and is a living evolution. What might have been okay to say a year or 6 months ago might not be okay today, etc. – sounds to me like Amy is crushing this to the benefit of the business.

      2. Another freelancer*

        I don’t get the issue either. The only possibility is that the jokes are coming across as backhanded insults. But the op didn’t mention that.

        I get the jokes are boring but couldn’t they sort of tune out and focus on their work when the tour arrives? Or maybe they could offer to make the tour more interactive in certain parts so they don’t feel like they are on display?

      3. Sun in an Empty Room*

        Reading this I just realized that a big part of why the customer service part of my job is so hard is that nearly EVERY interaction I have is different and I can’t employ scripts. Thinking about the rare times I can use scripts I actually know that I give dramatically better customer service because I’m more confident and relaxed rather than coming up with new information on the spot. I’m not sure there’s much I can do about it but interesting to have noticed.

      4. GlitterIsEverything*

        I work in a doctor’s office, both doing preliminary testing and as a scribe for the doctors.

        We ALL use scripts. I use a script for each test that I do, for each disease patients ask me about, even for explaining to patients that they have a minimum 20 minute wait between me and the doctor. My doctors use scripts when counseling patients on their conditions and treatments. (Obviously, there are situations when we all need to go off-script. But to get the basic information from our brain to the patient’s ears? Script.)

        I do my exams in a specific order, every time, so I don’t forget anything. My doctors do, too. Patterns help us be consistent.

        Jenn is a successful chef because she uses scripts (recipes) to create her food. She doesn’t change up the ingredients in a dish unless something isn’t working or isn’t available.

        John is good at finance because he enters information in his books the same way, every time. He doesn’t change the alignment in his books from entry to entry, because doing so would make his job harder.

        I agree, I think there’s something else going on, and the scripting issue is a red herring. I’ll be interested to see if we get an update on this and find out what the real issue was.

    14. introverted af*

      I wonder if maybe Jenn feels ‘disrespected’ because Amy has 2 stories about how cool Jenn is, and Jenn feels like “what about all these other awesome things I’ve done?” That doesn’t mean Amy needs to constantly change her script, but maybe at some kind of regular intervals Amy can ask Jenn what she wants to highlight from her work? It gives Jenn agency in how her work is portrayed, and Amy can also say, “oh we need to talk about X thing you did last year in the summer because it’s summer again and it’s relevant for Y reasons.”

      1. somanyquestions*

        I think trying to pander to someone who is being ridiculous only opens them up to more insane demands. It’s like how the LW was saying “did I take Amy’s side?”. Well, I’d hope they would take her side, because she’s the one who is just doing their job, and doing it well.

  3. Sassenach*

    I think you need to tell Amy directly that in hindsight you handled this poorly and apologize to her and emphasize that she is doing a great job and extremely valuable to the business and that she does not need to change anything. Commit your support to her and make her feel supported. Then talk to John and Jenn and tell them you handled it poorly, apologize but explain very clearly why you handled it poorly and then use Alison’s script. Try to make them feel supported as well but make it clear that after thinking about it, they were in the wrong and you should have told them so. Congratulations on your successful business! It sounds lovely and a place I would love to visit!

    1. Heather*

      Agreed. Just put it all out there, have some big awkward conversations, but say clearly that Amy isn’t doing anything wrong.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        You can even crib from Aaron Sorkin when talking to Amy.

        “Amy I’m here to apologize. ‘I did a big thing badly’ “

    2. Jessica*

      I agree with this. I feel like this letter illustrated an all-too-common LW dynamic: “I’m a manager and X complained about Y so I reflexively tried to address it as if that were a reasonable thing to complain about and I just needed to fix it, but only in the ensuing chaos am I now thinking about whether X’s complaint was even reasonable in the first place.”

      1. NNT*

        This is so true! It can be uncomfortable to have to tell people no, but part of managing is enforcing boundaries, rather than just defaulting to the solution that you believe will cause the least conflict. OP, your job here is not to “keep the peace” at all costs- your job is to make decisions that are to the betterment of the entire operation, and letting one person’s unreasonable demands hold everyone hostage will only lead to more of the very awkwardness and conflict that you are trying to avoid in the first place. Be firm, kind, and polite, but hold your boundaries.

        Just in case this sounds judgmental- I have been in this position as a new manager before, and it was a nightmare that I could have nipped in the bud with a little bit of plain speaking at the start. Eventually I created a monster who expected his every ridiculous whim to be catered to, and getting out of that dynamic was way more difficult than it would have been to set clear boundaries in the first place.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          Also regarding keeping the peace: As a business owner, you will need to make decisions about when you can approach your business from a place of friendship, and when you will need to approach your friendship from a place of business. This is a time to do the latter.

          You cannot do what is best for the business right now AND not interfere with Amy’s work AND give Jenn what she wants AND not have anyone upset. Those four things are all at cross-purposes, and it does not mean anything is wrong if you can’t accomplish all four things.

          You need to do what is best for the business right now. Period. You need to keep your eye on the ball with regard to your business. That is true even if it means you upset a friend (which, frankly, should be Jenn, because she is not being reasonable AND is replaceable). That might not be peaceful. So be it.

        2. GammaGirl1908*

          Also, there isn’t really peace if multiple people are being quietly passive aggressive, or muttering under their breath, or simmering with irritation but not saying anything, or biting their tongues.

          It’s counterproductive to have the illusion that you have succeeded at keeping the peace because it’s quiet, but really everyone is furious. As others have alluded, that’s when people quit with no notice and steal the recipes on the way out.

        3. GammaGirl1908*

          Also, there isn’t really peace if multiple people are being quietly passive aggressive, or muttering under their breath, or simmering with irritation but not saying anything, or biting their tongues.

          It’s counterproductive to have the illusion that you have succeeded at keeping the peace because it’s quiet, but really everyone is furious. As others have alluded, that’s when people quit with no notice and steal the recipes on the way out.

      2. Hannah Lee*

        I had a manager who tried to avoid that by asking “why” questions, sometimes repeatedly (not automatically 5 whys, but however many it took to make clear whether it was a problem or a “problem”)

        John and Jenn “Amy’s repeating the same stories”
        LW “Okay … why is that a problem?”
        John and Jenn “Because it’s boring us”
        LW “Okay … but guests are happy. Why is that a problem? Can’t you just tune it out?”

        1. Danish*

          This strikes me as a potentially useful tool for the complainer as well, because maybe there IS an answer to why it’s a problem that J/J aren’t expressing well. When you’re annoyed about something it’s so easy to simplify (or make hyperbolic) the action/emotion until its something else. For example I had a coworker who I have complainingly described as “talks to me like I’m stupid”, when really it’s “they focus on Downsides and will interrupt me to explain Downsides before I’ve been able to get to that part of my Proposal, so it feels like they think I haven’t thought it through.”

          it feels like “repeated stories are disrespectful” has to be mental shorthand for something else related to the stories/interaction that is making J/J feel disrespected

          Which is not to say I disagree that they’re being ridiculous and Amy is likely doing nothing that disrespectful, but def worth digging into a bit with J/J

          1. Migraine Month*

            I did this once and realized the reason I was so annoyed with my project lead was that she didn’t understand that the way I was planning to implement the project had changed. So I put it on the agenda for our next meeting, and we were able to get on the same page.

    3. Critical Rolls*

      Yes, please. Amy is fantastic at her job, and in no way to the “detriment” of her coworkers. Jane needs to understand that Amy isn’t there to entertain *Jane.* WTAF.

      1. Books and Cooks*

        It sounds to me like Amy doing her job differently–not as well–would actually be a big detriment to all of them, including Jenn and John.

    4. Kristi*

      Agreed. I am not sure that it would be possible for Amy to effectively do her job any other way. That is how how you do a job like that! This isn’t like Amy asking Jenn to change up her menu – it’s more along the lines of her being mortally offended because she wants Jenn to keep cooking the same menu, just using entirely different recipes for every meal.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      I agree that the business sounds like an awesome idea and I hope this gets sorted out and the business continues to thrive.

  4. three soft tacos*

    This was so bizarre that I was convinced I was misunderstanding the letter. I can’t imagine even thinking to complain about this, like is she meant to come up with an entirely new spiel every single day?

    1. oh geez*

      Imagine walking up to a cashier who cheerfully says “Hi there, did ya find everything alright today?” while starting to scan your items and loudly replying “Ugh, THAT question again? You ask it every time I come in!”

      1. Grilledcheeser*

        That’s a great example because i find that question SO ANNOYING – but I would never call the cashier disrespectful or rude! And while it is annoying to me, i know it is a rote time-filler question, so i just mentally roll my eyes & in real life I smile & nod & wish the cashier a lovely day.

        1. Joanna*

          I don’t think it’s a rote time filler. You ask the customer that question to open up an opportunity to add to the sale. You were looking for “Oh the Places You’ll Go?” It’s right over here on this endcap with the other books for Grads. Ring up an additional $12.00 on the sale. That’s how you increase your average dollar per transaction. (My apologies to all the former book store workers for the flashback)

          1. Allornone*

            Damn you reminding me of my Borders and B&N days. Though usually, the books for grads had their own table. And my tables were beautiful, dang it. :-P

          2. Insert Clever Name Here*

            I’ve also gotten information about when the ice cream gets restocked, or getting my name added to list to notify when a supply chain issue is resolved, by saying “everything but the cookies and cream ice cream!”

        2. somanyquestions*

          If you didn’t find something they’ll send someone to go get it for you. People in front of me in line do this all the time, lol (it doesn’t usually take long, it just always reinforces my belief that somehow I always pick the slowest line). They actually ask that for a reason.

      2. Nanani*

        The cousin of that one person who goes “but when they ask how are you THEY DONT CARE HOW YOU ARE”

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I’d love to say “Oh that question again?”
        The thing is that they HAVE to ask that question. In all likelihood management makes them ask. If they do not ask they can be written up or worse.

        The chain that I use the most routinely drops a lot of products that I like and use. The question grates on me. I have a lengthy list of things that I did not find because THEY stopped carrying it. I still go to this store because it’s got the better prices of the main competitor. It’s not the cashier’s fault, so I always answer, “Yep” and change the topic.

    2. wondermint*

      Same here! I felt that I was either reading the letter wrong or that the LW didn’t articulate the problem correctly. Especially considering Amy switches it up for repeat guests!

      1. Migraine Month*

        They’re complaining that the Head of Guest Services is too focused on making guests happy. What.

    3. ferrina*

      I read it as a case where Amy was repeating herself when casually chatting with John and Jane, or when presenting at staff meetings. I’ve worked for and with folks that repeated the same stories over and over. Boring? Absolutely. Disrespectful? No. Only when it was in an all-staff meeting where the CEO went on a 20 minute tangent that we had all heard before.
      But in that case, just don’t hang out with Amy socially (shouldn’t be hard given their roles, which sound like they are in very separate spaces from where Amy is usually working) and ask if someone can limit her presentations in all-staff meetings. It sounds like Amy is receptive to change, if a reasonable ask is made (saying that she can’t use scripts when talking to guests is not a reasonable ask).

    4. The OG Sleepless*

      I did the same. I was so confused throughout. It’s completely normal to hear your coworker’s spiels to customers over and over. My husband and I spent an afternoon in the courtyard of a B&B in St. Augustine across the street from the Sears Roebuck house. All afternoon, every 20 minutes, another horse-drawn carriage tour would come by, and we’d hear an almost identical speech from a tour guide about the house you could order from Sears Roebuck. It was amusing, and not at all anything to get annoyed about.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      Yes! I thought they were complaining that she’s like, boring socially because she tells the same stories *to them* during their down time. Which might be mildly annoying but isn’t a work issue. But they’re complaining that a TOUR GUIDE has a consistent routine??? For the customers???

    6. 1-800-BrownCow*

      Thank you! I was reading this thinking I missed something or didn’t understand what I was reading.

      LW, just because someone complains to you about how someone else does something or what they are doing doesn’t always mean you have to try and correct the person they are complaining about. Sometimes the complaints are unwarranted. You’re going to wear yourself out trying to make your employees happy about what other employee are or are not doing. Sometimes you just need to tell the complainer that the person is doing their job as expected (or better than expected in this case) and that the complainer needs to learn to be okay with it.

    1. thisgirlhere*

      Yea, I’m surprised that a practical solution wasn’t the immediate response. I doubt the CFO is spending much time around the guests. Move people around and let them wear earplugs or headphones.

      1. WellRed*

        No but in this case, the CFO spends a lot of time with the chef. I’m guessing that’s a big part of the problem.

  5. frame*

    i‘ve never met someone, especially in hospitality, who doesn’t understand the need for a script! normally people find it funny that we all say and hear the same things over and over!

    1. Moonlight*

      I have to wonder if some these people (re: the complainers) were not in hospitality before they started a business before? Or maybe they were in an area where they wouldn’t constantly overhear the tour guides? For example, I think of mountain tours, where maybe guides are taking people on long ass hikes, so other colleagues don’t necessarily overhear the spiel all the time? Or maybe a hotel that also hires tour guides to give guides of historical places in the city? It sounds like maybe this is in closer quarters than might be in different settings, so maybe they either (a) haven’t worked in hospitality before (b) haven’t worked in hospitality with tour guides before or (c) just haven’t worked this closely with the tour guide(s) before. It doesn’t necessarily make their complaining ok, but it would explain why they didn’t understand that this might bother them in practice, rather thinking they’re ok with it in theory.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        The LW says “we left successful city careers to make this happen.” So I assume that Jenn and John did not work in hospitality or in a place where they constantly overheard tour guides prior to this business .

      2. Warrior Princess Xena*

        My thought was partly this, but also partly wondering if they don’t like seeing the ‘magic ruined’? I don’t go to the same improv show/tour more than once in a long stretch of time for the same reason – I like to pretend that it’s fresh and new and that I’m not just part of audience #235. Realizing that your tour guide/whatever is reading off a script can sometimes be disenchanting.

        That said, that’s still their problem, not Amy’s. They are adults, working from a script is standard in just about any client-facing role, and unlike the tourists who are paying to be entertained they are being paid to be in hospitality and have no excuse for kvetching about the use of scripts. I get that the monotony can be frustrating (I could only ever do cashier work for about 3 hours at a time for the same reason) but the solution is not to make Amy stop using scripts.

      3. Spero*

        This is also my thought. Ex Jenn may have been the exec chef at a very successful restaurant…where they didn’t give kitchen tours. Now she is the exec chef somewhere where they DO give kitchen tours/activities daily and has realized she hates that. But she’s taking it out on Amy instead of realizing the issue is her own incompatibility with the environment of this type of hospitality business.

    2. Trawna*

      Indeed. Someone in hospitality whose very skill is replicating tried & true recipes over and over and over again. Strange.

  6. Putting the Dys in Dysfunction*

    It’s the “disrespectful” comment that makes my ears perk up. People in low power situations get disrespected all the time, but people who are in power (such as partners here) who insist on being “respected” have a stick up their glass that reeks of insecurity and demands that people walk on eggshells around them.

    A serious but “respectful” conversation on what people do and do not owe one another in workplace interactions is in order. Hopefully the idea of Amy being “disrespectful” will get no more respect than it deserves.

    1. Alexis Rosay*

      Yeah, even though Amy is a partner in the business, people often view customer-facing work as lower-status.

      I’m glad OP at least has recognized how important Amy is to their success. Now it’s just time to follow up by standing up for her when she does her job.

      1. TypityTypeType*

        I bet you’re on to something here. Amy is the person whose name is coming up in all those great reviews. The chef and CFO may well be envious or think Amy, a mere customer service professional, is getting above herself.

        Some people do feel anyone who serves people/fulfills others’ requests as part or all of their job — whether it’s in customer service or admin work — is somehow lower status.

      2. Yvette*

        But is she a partner? “There’s my partner, Alice (chief agricultural officer), and her wife Amy (head of guest services), and my partner John (CFO) and his wife Jenn (executive chef).” I interpreted that as Alice and John are the partners. In any case, John and Jenn are way off base on this. Disrespectful? Unless Amy’s patter includes derogatory jokes about the food, how is she being disrespectful? Is not abiding by their wishes disrespectful? Really?
        Someone suggested comparing the menu repetition to the tour speeches. I think that is spot on.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          I found it …. interesting … that the primary ‘conflict’ was between the two spouses of the two minority partners. Part of me wondered if there isn’t some interpersonal jockeying for influence/respect/control between the two minority partners (John and Alice) that’s manifesting itself in a proxy conflict with Jenn jockeying for influence/respect/control compared to Amy. It could be entirely one-sided with John and/or Jenn thinking they are / should be more prominent in the business while Alice and Amy are just motoring along.

          In any case, LW needs to shut this down, and also clarify roles and responsibilities of everyone in this operatoin.

          1. Sandi*

            The comment from Jenn and John that OP has ‘sided’ with Amy is also very suspect. As if this is about choosing sides and not about business decisions. When reading through the letter I had a feeling that this is about something much more complicated and interpersonal.

    2. Mockingjay*

      The roles themselves might be a factor. Amy’s role is public facing and she receives a lot of direct accolades from clients. Chefs – not so much; guests may say, convey my compliments to the chef, but that can be a lukewarm recognition compared with the effusive praise Amy receives. And Finance – no guest ever sees them unless there’s an issue with a bill.

      Not that this makes John and Jenn’s behavior towards Amy acceptable (Amy doesn’t need to change what’s she’s doing, as Alison said), but…OP, are you recognizing the accomplishments of the ‘backroom’ staff too? Make sure all your staff feels valued, especially those who are less visible.

    3. Spero*

      Perhaps in Jenn’s mind she is used to being in charge of her kitchen and all that happens in it, and this feels to her like a hostess intruding in her zone which might feel disrespectful in a traditional restaurant? But that’s just not the environment/dynamic of this place or the proper analogy for Amy’s role.

    4. Curious*

      I see “disrespectful” as a trump (sorry) card being played by Jenn — it’s not just a disagreement. Rather, Alice is disrespectful, and so of course must be wrong.

      What I found most discordant is the claim that Alice is prioritizing customers over her coworkers. Look, I get that the customer isn’t always right — e. g., if the customer is being insulting or highly unreasonable. But, outside those sorts of edge cases, a business is all about serving the customer — especially a hospitality business.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Seconded! I feel like there’s missing information here? But I do hope that it works out for the sake of everyone involved.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Thirded, as I also very much hope to hear an update.

        And, also starting to think that there may be a deeper or hidden problem here that is masquerading as “complaints about Amy’s scripts.” Though, it may not be bad to try and shadow Amy to hear the script and see what’s actually going on.

    2. TinaTurner*

      THIS is so obviously about something else. Maybe Jenn & John feel insecure here. They “split their 30%” so maybe they wish they had more power. There’s a secret agenda here.

      Is Jenn jealous of Amy? Maybe the chef wants more praise? She could do a “cooking demo” for guests using stuff they forage that day, maybe. The ideas are up to her, but it fits into the format. Then she’ll see how hard it is to change her script every time.

      Or is it money? John would know about that.

      1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

        I don’t think it’s jealousy of the amount of attention Amy gets anyway. The OP says they allowed “Jenn and John to withdraw from the client-facing aspects of their job descriptions they’d previously disliked. This has made a small improvement because they interact less with “public Amy.””

        Honestly it sounds like interacting with clientele and being “on” annoys them and Amy has become the focal point– probably because she’s the one bringing clients to them.

        1. Hapless Bureaucrat*

          Also, this feels like the premise of a cozy mystery, something like “Bad Feelings at Good Acres” and I very much need an update. Ideally one without crime involved.

          1. Calamity Janine*

            (however, if murder and crime must occur, definitely make it one of those cozy crime novels with a story-relevant recipe popped in between chapters…)

            (…or ask a manager letter reprints if it’s an official collabo with Alison. i ain’t picky.)

  7. Just Another Zebra*

    I’ll be honest, I don’t understand Jenn and John’s complaint? Like sure, I’d hate to hear the same anecdotes every day. But I’m sure flight attendants get tired of running through safety measures all the time, and call centers hate having to answer every phone call the same. Amy’s job is guest experience. The guests are having a great experience, and thus your business is thriving. J and J need a reality check, and some nudging to stay in their lane.

    1. cubone*

      as a tour guide, I absolutely annoyed MYSELF with my repeat stories. But like.. so what? That’s the job? And the job becomes SO much easier and less exhausting with a quality script, beats that work etc.

    2. HelloFromNY*

      This reminds me of NY senator Chuck Schumer. He gives a lot of speeches at college commencements. Every time he tells the same story and repeats the same anecdotes. I’ve been to many commencements in the past decade (Myself twice, friends, family, significant others). Is is annoying to hear the same speech every time? Sure. The obvious solution is to tune it out. It’s an important skills to learn, especially if you are at work. Retail stores play the same background music playlists on repeat. Radio DJs play the same top 40 hits over and over. Most people just tune it out after awhile!

  8. A+New+CV*

    The notion that someone doing customer service is somehow disrespecting her coworkers is just… what? Why on earth are they prioritizing their own entertainment over guest experience and safety? Some parts of any job are repetitive and it’s not disrespectful to repeat yourself in front of others. She’s not doing her job AT them.

  9. Colette*

    I’m very confused about where Jenn is coming from. Could she explain how to make a recipe every day for months on end without repeating herself? I’m guessing not.

    And complaining she felt disrespcted because Amy repeats stories? That is a big concern for me, because I doubt that’s the only problem with Jenn. If you’re that easily disrespected, that’s on you.

    1. Just Another Zebra*

      OP, I think this is a pretty good analogy to use with Jenn. Every time she gets a new cook and has to explain a recipe, the rest of the kitchen staff are not being “disrespected” because they already know what she’s saying. It’s part of her job, just like it’s part of Amy’s.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Or just MAKE a recipe. Most places have a set or rotating menu, maybe with new seasonal items but does Jenn honestly never serve the same item more than once? “Jenn, all the customers rave about your quiche no matter how often you make it. You need to stop repeating recipes because it’s rude and disrespectful to your coworkers.”

  10. Minerva*

    “Over-focuses on the clients to the detriment of her coworkers” My eyeballs nearly got stuck in my head from how hard I just rolled them. This is a hospitality position and Amy is not harming them.

    Yeah Jenn & John are absolutely unreasonable and in the wrong here. Having a repeated schtick is 100% normal considering Amy is being an instructor/tour guide, especially if there are safety elements involved.

    This is no different from having to listen to the corporate approved music in a store over and over again, or as Alison mentioned, having to watch/listen to the same show over and over if you manage something on stage. It’s annoying, it gets tedious, but it’s part of the gig.

    1. NeutralJanet*

      Right, obviously Amy is focused on the clients–her job is to focus on the clients!

      1. Miss Muffet*

        like, literally her job title!
        Are her repeated stories insulting her coworkers? That is the only thing I could imagine being “disrespectful” and “to the detriment of her coworkers” – is she constantly digging at the food or the chef’s abilities? I am sure that’s not actually the case – I would think that would be a more obvious thing the OP would have mentioned and also a clear thing to address with Amy.

    2. CowWhisperer*

      That was the bit that boggled my mind, too. An agro tourism business lives and dies by customer service outcomes – full stop. If Jenn and John don’t understand that, they are quite capable of killing that business.

      Those two need to either get with reality or be bought out before they do damage.

      1. Anonym*

        Yeah, you can get great food at many nice restaurants (including farm to table, and places with similar themes). The agrotourism experience is unique, and it’s not the food that makes it unique.

    3. The OTHER Other*

      This jumped out at me even more than their mention of being “disrespected” by… someone repeating their interactions with guests, who they interact with repeatedly?

      Jenn and John seem to fundamentally misunderstand the importance of customers to the business (probably one reason they want to get away from customers, which is probably a good idea), and how Amy is contributing to the success of the business with her skills. It would be MUCH harder to replace Amy than to replace Jenn or John!

      I wonder at the motivation, could it be jealousy? Perhaps Jenn feels overshadowed that she’s made this great menu but everyone is talking about how awesome Amy is?

      1. EPLawyer*

        I’m wondering if John and Jenn thought this business would be just playing on the farm all day and then finding out its WORK. that involves being nice to strangers instead of you know, being free to play on the farm all day. Amy shouldn’t be making sure the guests are happy, she should be making sure John and Jenn have the fun experience they were expecting.

        Happens with quilt shops a LOT. Little old ladies figure opening one would be a great “retirement” job. They can quilt all day and pet the pretty fabrics. Then they find out its schedules, and ordering stocks and dealing with customers who want THEIR favorite fabrics stocked, not yours. A lot of quilt shops close or change hands frequently because of this.

        1. learnedthehardway*

          Oh – good point. I wonder what Jenn and John’s expectations were of their involvement in the business. Were they expecting kudos from guests (but not getting the attention they feel they should have, while Amy gets all the praise)? OR did they think guests were an afterthought and that the point was to play farmer?

          A LOT of small retail-consumer focused businesses run into the same issue. It’s a really good reason to NOT make your hobby your job. The hobby becomes work, and it’s not necessarily work that you find interesting.

          1. Migraine Month*

            I used to work at a little boutique toy store. Apparently it was a hobby business, because the owner got another job and just stopped responding to calls about things such as:
            –someone wants to buy the giant rocking horse and I don’t know how much it costs;
            –the person who special-ordered a doll wants to know why it has taken two months;
            –the power company is threatening to cut off the store’s electricity;
            –the toy supplier says you haven’t paid them last month;
            –you haven’t paid me back wages and I’m taking you to small claims court; and
            –I know the store went out of business, but the IRS wants to know whether you withheld any taxes for me last year.

            It was a “learning experience”.

        2. Tuckerman*

          “Little” old ladies petting pretty fabrics? Nobody talks this way about men starting businesses, even when they’re equally ill-informed about what running a business involves.

        3. Books and Cooks*

          That’s really interesting! I had no idea that was a thing!

          (It reminds me of a book I read once; I can’t remember the title or anything, but there was a bit in there about a woman who’d opened a clothing boutique because she loved clothes and had excellent taste. But the problem was that she stocked her store entirely with things she liked, that she would wear and would look good on her…so the business failed, because any potential customers whose taste didn’t match hers, or whose body type was not like hers, or who preferred jewel tones to earth tones or whatever, found nothing to interest her in the store. It never occurred to the owner that she needed to appeal to a broad range of customers, not just those who liked what she liked, and that women in general wouldn’t just buy something because the owner of the store told her to.)

          I think you could be on to something wrt Jenn & John and their, “We thought it would be all fun with people like us!” thing–and maybe a touch of, “But we’re partners, so we don’t have a boss and can’t be fired, so why do we have to kiss up to strangers and listen to the same dumb stories every day? This business should be about all of us having fun together and being paid by people who do what we tell them to do, not about us having to act all fake and like the customers are the most important thing!” I’ve seen/heard more than a few business owners who want to view their businesses that way: I get paid for doing what I love, and if customers don’t like my attitude, tough. Eventually they either fail or catch on that no, you don’t get paid without customers.

        4. Unaccountably*

          My mother, after being laid off from the job she’d held for 15 years, mused that she might like to work in a bookshop.

          She had physical issues that made it difficult for her to walk, stand for any length of time, or carry heavy objects, and that would have made getting up and down off the floor to shelve books all day impossible. She hated people and would have been absolutely horrible at anything resembling a customer service position. I have absolutely no idea what she expected her job tasks to be.

          See also: my dad saying he was going to work in a hardware store after retirement and three back surgeries.

    4. Observer*

      “Over-focuses on the clients to the detriment of her coworkers” My eyeballs nearly got stuck in my head from how hard I just rolled them. This is a hospitality position and Amy is not harming them.

      Yeah, these guys don’t seem to understand how hospitality works. There is almost no such thing as “over focus” on guests. Unless you are talking about letting guests harass or abuse staff – or even insult them. Or maybe giving into guest requests that are unsafe or illegal, or so costly that they swallow your profit and even operating margin. THAT is what “over-focus” looks like. NOT “doing your job like any reasonable professional in a performance role”!

      Claiming that being subject to constant repetition of the spiel is “detrimental” sounds like a caricature, to honest.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        OP could tell the others that Amy is a great role model in this regard because no guests equals no pay.

    5. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      Yep. I’m going to guess there’s an expectations issue here.

      J&J quit their high-pressure urban jobs and thought they were moving to a bucolic paradise where everything is fun. But it’s still a job. Jobs aren’t fun.

      The customers who are paying for fresh air and light agricultural exercise are only there for a few days, and they’re being coddled and sheltered from the really nasty jobs. But if they had to do everything, day in and day out, they wouldn’t pay you, they’d want the money to go the other way around.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        If you want bucolic paradise, hospitality definitely isn’t the way to go. Honestly, neither is farming, even if you hire out all the farm work and management. I always flinch when people talk about quitting their jobs for better work life balance and talk about starting a farm or a B&B because both are hard, often unprofitable, and have terrible work/life balance unless you can hire people to do the work. I’m wondering if this reality is biting.

        1. Koalafied*

          Yes, there’s such devaluing of service/labor in people’s minds. Unless it’s some highly specialized field requiring years of specialized training, it’s like people estimate the cost of the physical raw materials and then act horrified that the business is charging more than that amount for the product.

          A humorous but poignant example of this I saw recently on a video games forum, a commenter was saying he didn’t like a shopkeeper character because he would buy items from you and then you’d find him selling them in his shop the next day at a mark-up. … I thought, what does this guy think a grocery store is?? A non-profit volunteer distribution center? Literally that is what a business does, they create value through labor. The cost to you is not just the cost of the goods, it’s also the cost of the labor that went into making it available for you to buy.

        2. The OTHER Other.*

          OMG, I went to school in the Midwest and got to know several folks from farming families, went home with a couple and saw what typical days were like for them. Let me tell you farming is WORK, and lots of it, ranching probably even more so.

          People seem to think since they enjoyed having a vegetable patch they’re cut out to be farmers. Unless you have tons of money to hire people to do the work, farm work will kick your ass. I was 19 and pretty fit at the time and a weekend tending cows and pigs was all I could handle.

          Less so now with the pandemic but people who like to cook used to dream about opening a restaurant, having no idea of the work it takes.

        3. emmelemm*

          Yeah, no kidding. Farming and hospitality such as B&Bs are practically the opposite of work-life balance, because they for sure require non-traditional hours and a bit of being “on call” at all times. There can certainly be wonderful trade-offs vs. dull office jobs, and if you hate just sitting at a desk, then it can be worth it, but it’s not a “fun romp” running such a business.

        4. Irish Teacher*

          I’m staring at the idea that people DO this. I am not a farmer and live in a town, but…isn’t farming noted for being a 24/7 job? For being a job with like ZERO work-life balance? Being a job where you have to get up at dawn to do the milking and aren’t done until the sun sets? I don’t know how true that it is in reality, but it’s sort of how farming is portrayed. Maybe it’s more glorified in countries that are more urban and less based on farming.

          1. Adultiest Adult*

            I think your last sentence hits the nail on the head. I grew up in farm country and know exactly how hard and unglamorous farm work is, and how all-consuming it is. Then I moved to a city where suddenly everyone wants to raise chickens and their dream is to run off and be a farmer! And I’m just there shaking my head, thinking, if you only knew…

            1. MK Farmer*

              Exactly. I am a farmer raising livestock for meat to sell to customers, and the majority of people I chat with clearly think it’s a bucolic romantic life on par with a hobby farm they saw on YouTube. Its both bucolic and romantic at times, but it’s definitely not a hobby and it’s a breathtaking amount of work, as is the marketing it takes to get people interested in buying directly from a farmer. There is a huge disconnect between the perception and reality of farming.

              This leads to an odd combination of people starting small farms with an unrealistic plan, and wildly unrealistic expectations on the part of consumers, though to be fair the marketing done by many farms as well as food companies contributes to that.

          2. Tiger Snake*

            Nah see, it actually does make sense as a holiday thing – spraying or shearing or reaping are fine and even fun for a few hours, but not for days on end with no end in sight. Its the same logic as a pottery course – messing about in the mud and then going home to relax in a spa when you’re tired is fun, having to do the same back breaking work indefinitely is not.

            But not fencing. I would rather plow for the rest of my life than have to do any fence repairs.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I have a friend who loves to point out anything you do repeatedly is not fun. Take a hobby and turn it into a business? It’s no longer a hobby. It’s not fun.
        To me these two sound bored. They wanted something to complain about to liven things up and they found it.

        A fascinating question to me is where do people get energy from? Some get it from gossip or fighting at work. Seriously- if they were not bashing someone they’d have no energy for the job.

  11. Prairie*

    This complaint is so strange! I give classroom presentations every semester. There is a teacher for whom I will present to eight classes in a two week period. I give them exact same spiel and inflect the exact same way each time. The only variety depends on student questions. The teacher and I usual develop a banter and will repeat it/build on it for each class. Maybe OP can help Jenn by pointing out that it’s a performance and that Jenn can be a part of it.

  12. Former Tour Guide at a Historical Site*

    Can confirm as someone who spent some time as a tour guide at a historical site in my mis-spent early adulthood. You tell the same stories and use, nearly word-for-word, the same language every time you give a tour. This holds even if you have a colleague joining you on the tour because, say, the group is too large or too young and rambunctious for a single guide to wrangle. It’s not disrespectful or insulting. It’s the nature of the job! And it’s actually good practice to give guests the same or substantially similar experience.

    Speaking of tours where the stories and jokes are recycled, if you’ve ever taken the Seattle Underground Tour … they’ve been recycling the material for literally decades.

    1. Heather*

      Yes! Your comment about “even if you have a colleague” struck home. Maybe Jenn gets mad because she’s peripherally involved in it? Maybe some of Amy’s schtick involves, “… and even our food, right, Jenn?!” and Jenn doesn’t want to be drawn in to it or something. I have no idea.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      My family went to Wisconsin Dells one time when I was a kid and then I took my own kids about 25 years later, and the guide patter on the Ducks tour was so substantially the same that I was whispering the punchlines to my husband before the guide could say them. XD

      1. Lilo*

        I worked at a theme park and in some ways, that’s 100% on purpose. They want there to be a timelessness to people’s experiences and photos (so our uniforms were very similar to those worn when the park opened, for instance).

    3. Alexis Rosay*

      Yes, this is honestly what makes the Seattle Underground Tour good! The tour guides aren’t left to wing it, they get tried-and-true material handed to them.

      1. Lilo*

        No tour guide should ever be winging it, as they need information and history to impart to people. Otherwise, what are you paying for?

    4. many bells down*

      At the risk of doxxing myself, I’m a volunteer at MoPOP and I’ve been giving the same speech (and telling the same jokes) about the Dalek for probably 7 years now.

      1. SkellieBunnie*

        I used to work at PacSci in IT — our office was in a converted storage room/closet directly behind the Live Science Stage. Pretty sure all 3 of us in there could quote most of the shows. The balloon explosions at the end of the fire show were so routine/expected we didn’t jump – we ranked them. The shows varied slightly based on who was leading but there were definitely scripts, and since the shows were supposed to be a specific amount of time (about 30 minutes) each even the timing/pacing was essentially the same every time. We just came up with “games” (like ranking the explosions), or put on headphones, or even slipped out for a bit of a walk.

        And now I need to visit the center again and actually stop by MoPOP for that Dalek joke (^ヮ^)

    5. kiki*

      Yes and as a former tour guide, even if you don’t start with an actual script, sometimes you develop one over time. You see what works and you keep saying it until it stops working or you find something even better. If you know how to get a solid laugh out of the group, does it really make sense to avoid saying it just because you said the same thing to another group yesterday? It’s similar to stand-up: the individual performances may vary, but part of what comedians are doing is testing material and trying to hone their routine into something that kills every time. By the end of a tour, most of those performances are going to be nearly identical. Amy’s been testing material for a long while and now got her performance down pat.

    6. Antilles*

      I’m honestly surprised that Jenn and John didn’t realize this. Like, do they believe that every single time they’ve been to a museum the tour guide invented a brand new speech and history just for their specific tour?

      Do they visit the Natural History Museum and believe that every single dinosaur skeleton is hung there specifically for their tour? Do they go to Disney World and assume that the rides vanish the instant you walk away? Do they go to the theater and assume that they got to see the only performance of Hamlet that’s ever been on stage?

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I don’t think Jenn and John think that every tour experience (where they are the customers of the tour) is unique. I think it’s more likely that they are confusing “Amy is my coworker, and these people are customers. We are all catering to the customers” with “Amy is our friend, this is our hobby farm, it’s so rude that she doesn’t realize we’ve heard these stories a million times before.”

        Other commenters have pointed out there could be other driving reasons (Amy telling jokes at Jenn and John’s expense, Jenn is jealous of Amy, etc.), but the blurring of social and work relationships is not helping Jenn and John’s perspective on this situation.

    7. learnedthehardway*

      Yep – I was a tour guide in my home town as a teen. I was REQUIRED to learn the spiel and to be able to deliver it “just right” before I was allowed to give the tours. And honestly, it worked great, unless something unexpected happened.

    8. Parakeet*

      I was once an eyewitness to a historical tour in a park, where there was a far-right march going by on the street, and a verbal altercation that was threatening to turn physical, between a group of marchers and a group of counterprotesters, in the entranceway to the park. The tour group was no more than 40 feet from the altercation. The tour guide did not miss a beat of his usual patter, even though the tourists’ facial expressions clearly indicated that they were increasingly expecting him to. I tell this story (somewhat regularly – I bet J&J would find me annoying) to illustrate how difficult it is to faze historical tour guides in the city in question or get them to deviate even slightly from their script.

    9. Jackalope*

      Yes, from personal experience, even if you aren’t taught a specific script you tend to develop one. It’s pretty much impossible not to. And for that matter, it’s generally better to have a script to default to.

  13. Cmdrshpard*

    I don’t really have much to add, but you know who else tells essentially the same stories over and over comedians on tour, they don’t actually come up with a whole new set at every new city they preform. Does it suck to hear the same thing over and over as an employee yes, but that is part of the job.

    I used to hear the same ad on the tv in the electronics department, at one point I could quote most/all the ads by heart just by hearing the intro music, but it is just something you have to deal with.

    If John and Jenn can disengage from the customer facing side without harming the customer experience sure they can do that, but they can’t take it out on Amy.

    1. Anita Brayke*

      “If I hear Ya’mo Be There one more time I’m going to Ya’mo burn this place to the ground.” [courtesy of The 40-Year-Old-Virgin]

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I worked for an architect who would go on the lecture circuit at various colleges and conferences, and he had three or four scripted lectures that he rotated through year after year. He would edit them a little bit to include newly completed projects. I heard him give lectures at several different places, and he used the same words, inflection, and timing every time, and the audiences always laughed in the same places each time.

  14. Lilo*

    I’ve been a tour guide and worked at a theme park and having scripts is absolutely 100% part of this kind of thing. It’s 100% NOT possible to come up with new scripts for every single guest. Complaining about Amy doing a very necessary and normal part of her job is nutty. If Jenn and John get annoyed by repetitive interaction, a guest facing job is not for them. When I was a tour guide I would answer the same questions multiple times a day. It’s inherently repetitive.

    1. The OTHER Other.*

      The key is making it seem fresh when it’s your 10th tour of the day and the 100th time you’ve been asked the question. Customer service burnout is a huge challenge.

    1. Books and Cooks*

      Darn it! That was what I was going to say, lol.

      Yes, I’d love to see how Jenn would take it if OP went to her to say Amy was getting really sick of the braised lamb with baby carrots and peas, the fresh pesto pasta, and the pork medallions with plum sauce, and that she feels it’s really disrespectful of Jenn to keep cooking the same dishes day in day out without asking what Amy would like to eat that night. Amy feels that Jenn’s biggest focus should be cooking to suit Amy’s tastes, and that it is rude of her to make meals just because the guests love them instead of taking her orders from Amy.

      I’d be very, very interested to hear Jenn’s response to that!

    1. RC+Rascal*

      A thousand times this. If it comes to it, you can hire a chef. You ultimately don’t need Jenn.

      Amy is delivering the customer experience your clients are paying for. Without her, you have a big problem.

    2. Czhorat*

      This exactly.

      There is an ineffable quality to the creation of a connection with guests that elevates the experience to something truly special and memorable. Amy is the face of the experience and what makes it different.

    3. ecnaseener*

      Yep. You’re getting repeat guests because Amy is skilled enough to keep them entertained no matter how many times they return. That’s huge. You’ll lose those repeat guests if her spiels get worse because she’s forced to make them up on the spot all day every day, or if you replace her with someone less skilled. They won’t come back just for the food.

    4. Just Another Zebra*

      I wonder if that’s some of what’s driving Jenn’s complaint? That feeling of not being valued, or at least replaceable. She might be bitter that all these reviews talk about how personable and awesome Amy is, and her food is just a add-on.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        What’s driving Jenn’s complaint? They aren’t raving about her food enough because they are too busy raving about Amy.

    1. Empress Matilda*

      Right? “I find one of my coworkers mildly annoying! Oh, woe! Woe is me!”

      They sound like my cats, when the food dish is ONLY 3/4 full. You’d think they were fading away to nothing, with all the complaining that goes on!

  15. not a doctor*

    I got as far as “Jenn finds this grating, disrespectful, and rude” before I said, “Well, that’s unreasonable.” The rest of the letter makes it clear that they’re WAY out of line. Amy is absolutely and objectively in the right: any job that requires interacting with similar groups of people, in roughly the same way, day in and day out (AKA, repetition), is also going to require repetition from her by default. You yourself experienced the same thing in sales! How would it have been if your coworkers had demanded you change up your patter every day for their sake?

    You shouldn’t have indulged Jenn and John at all, OP, but you can’t uncross that bridge. All you can do now is make it clear that you are, in fact, going to take Amy’s side (the actually correct one!) going forward.

    1. Lilo*

      Yes, LW even passing on this complaint made a big error here. LW should have immediately shut this down. Passing on the complaint suggests there’s some merit to it, and there simply is not. If LW doesn’t shut this down, they’re going to lose Amy from the business.

    2. Van Wilder*

      Yeah, that was immediately obvious to me too. I have a feeling that if LW were reading this as someone else’s situation, it would be obvious to them too. I think this is one of those situations where it’s hard to see what’s going on when you’re in the middle of it.

      But Alison’s advice is spot on as usual, and I like what someone else added above about apologizing to Amy.

    3. Becky*

      any job that requires interacting with similar groups of people, in roughly the same way, day in and day out (AKA, repetition), is also going to require repetition from her by default.

      This!! I can’t think of a single customer facing field that doesn’t have at least SOME repetition or script-like wording or outline.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      It’s that or watch the look of terror on their faces when you tell them they will be tour guides and Amy will do the cooking and the finances. /do not do this.

  16. Roy G. Biv*

    I think John and Jenn are jealous that Amy gets the high marks and 5 star reviews — you know, the glory. But she is also spending the most time hands on with the customers. And that is where you want your star player to be.

    1. The OTHER Other*

      …especially when the other 2 people dislike dealing with customers and don’t seem to understand their importance to the business anyway.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Kind of makes me think they are not the right people to be in a business that is so focused on small group customer experience, especially the type of customers that go to to places with only 4-12 guests. Those folks want that personal 1:1 connection with the establishment. If they didn’t they’d be at a different type of vacation destination.

    2. Important Moi*

      “…especially when the other 2 people dislike dealing with customers and don’t seem to understand their importance to the business anyway.” Feelings can be notoriously irrational.

      They may dislike working with people, but feel like they’re contributions are being overlooked because they dislike working with people

  17. Precious Wentletrap*

    “Say, Father Callahan, Mass has been kinda stale lately, how ’bout some freestyle up there?”
    “…emergency lighting will illuminate along–” “–BO-RING!”

    She’s sales and a tour guide. Of course she has scripts.

    1. Lab Boss*

      The whole congregation can be half-zoned out through the entire Mass, but hoo boy just let the priest accidentally insert a prayer into the wrong spot and everybody’s a canon lawyer :D

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Nothing more awkward than stumbling in a point of the service that everyone should know by heart :)

        I sing in choir and hoo boy, days when that happens are the most memorable.

    2. Lilo*

      Well apparently they’ll occasionally amend “And also with you” to “And with your spirit” and it’ll trip people up for years.

        1. Unaccountably*

          “And also with you” is out of my mouth before I even realize what I’m saying and then I glare at the priest a lot.

    3. Pipe Organ Guy*

      I’m organist in an Episcopal parish. Our rector does change up some prayers every week, but everything is printed in the service booklet. There’s music I play every week, music that changes several times a year, and music that’s different every week (the hymns). I even repeat some preludes and postludes every year or two, because I like them and because the congregation likes them.

      Broadway shows operate on delivering as much the same experience as humanly possible night after night, sometimes for years.

      Many years ago, when I was in college, I knew a priest who did variations on the same sermon for every single wedding at which he officiated.

      John and Jenn are out of line.

  18. Observer*

    The others are correct. I want to point out while any one person is replaceable, even if with difficulty, it IS definitely easier to find a new executive chef, even a REALLY STELLAR one, than a stellar head of Guest Services who interacts this closely with guests.

    That’s on top of the fact that Jen is acting like a child. A bratty one, at that. Amy is not practicing at her; she’s just DOING HER JOB. The job that makes the whole thing run! You simply cannot cater to people who are this unreasonable.

    PS How does she react when someone has a food issue? I remember some discussion about chefs who don’t allow any changes in the “carefully curated” dishes. If she’s hung up on other people doing their jobs HER way, regardless of their need, is she the same way (or even amplified) when if comes to food, which is her job?

    1. MCL*

      Especially since the guest services head not only has to have awesome customer service/people skills, the person ALSO has have to have some sort of expertise about farming. Amy is mentoring people who may have never touched a garden implement before how to work on a farm, and she has to do it in a way that makes it fun! Way easier to find a new chef, IMO. Jenn does not have the leverage she thinks she does.

  19. NeutralJanet*

    This immediately made me think of the This American Life episode where the pit musicians for The Phantom Of The Opera talked about playing the same music night after night for over 20 years. I believe that Jenn and John might be vaguely annoyed at hearing the same stories over and over, in the same way that I was vaguely annoyed when I worked retail and heard the same playlist of slightly outdated Top 40 hits over and over, but that’s the job!

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Would it have killed them to replace “Music of the Night” with “Guns and Ships” just ONCE?

    2. Professional Cat Lady*

      Yes! Or the Riverdance chorus dancers, hungover and talking about dinner plans while the audience marvels at the spectacle. Everything becomes routine eventually!

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I always wonder how dancers in the chorus line or corps de ballet manage not to totally tune out, especially when there are long periods of time when they have to stay in the same position.
        I would completely lose focus and make a sudden move or sneeze or something.

        1. AFac*

          In my non-professional experience: muscle memory. You rehearse so much it’s second nature. Like how if someone asks you to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song you can just do it without thinking about how the song goes. Or how most people automatically lock their car without thinking about it, and then wonder 3 hours later if they’ve locked their car…

  20. Delta Delta*

    Maybe I don’t fully understand the setup, but why are John and Jenn with her at all? The description makes it sound like Amy’s outside teaching guests how to, say, snip grapes off a vine, while John’s inside doing the finances and Jenn is preparing meals. How would they hear her tell the story for the 200th time about how her grandfather taught her how to prune grapevines?

    It also sounds like John and Jenn perhaps don’t have backgrounds in teaching or in this kind of customer service, because what Amy is doing is normal.

    1. Nanani*

      This is a good question.

      John and Jenn are also waaaay more replaceable than a GOOD performer/guide who knows agrobusiness.

    2. kiki*

      I’m guessing Amy shepherds guests through the whole experience, so she probably overlaps a bit with Jenn when she’s getting the guests situated for meals. And Amy might introduce the group to John at some point in the tour.

      What Amy’s doing is very normal and I suspect John and Jenn are just at BEC with her and feeding off each other.

      1. misspiggy*

        I wonder if Jenn wants to be bigged up more by Amy in her guest spiels, and has got it into her head that Amy’s script about her is deliberately undermining. But is too embarrassed to say that directly.

    3. Cat Tree*

      I assumed that the tour goes through the dining area and maybe the kitchen so Jenn hears it then. At that John is just wandering or tagging along during breaks or downtime.

  21. Elle*

    Those of us that have worked in museums, public health, etc-what scripts do you know by heart (even if you didn’t give the lesson)? I can do Holocaust education, syphillis, HIV prevention, a fundraising spiel for a non profit I used to work for. Probably many others!

    1. not a doctor*

      I used to be a teacher, and my script for reading time one year was so repetitive that I once caught a student doing an ASTONISHINGLY good impression of me. Not in a mean way, mind you! They were actually playing pretend at the time and holding their own little reading circle, it was very cute. But I was still practically on the floor from how spot-on it was.

      1. Lab Boss*

        Did they even mimic your gestures and body language? That’s when you know they’ve got you totally pegged :D

        1. Elle*

          My daughter used to do that nightly with her stuffed animals. Whatever lesson the teacher did that day that she enjoyed. It was awesome.

    2. Lab Boss*

      Camp Counselor Scripts:
      Introduction to Rifle Shooting (could teach that blindfolded and with my hands tied behind my back)
      Trust Falls and Safe Spotting
      How to spot an outhouse that needs emptied & how to not overfill a trash bag
      About 2 dozen skits and songs that I could lead/perform at the drop of a hat

    3. UKDancer*

      I worked as a tour guide in a stately home when I was a student. I had a pretty good script off by heart to explain the main attractions of each room and the key stories from the history of the family who lived there.

      1. Jam on Toast*

        It’s been 25 years since I waitressed at a bar in university. I can still recite what they had on tap. I said it so many times, it’s ingrained in my memory.

    4. kiki*

      Just volunteered at a museum kids’ event on Friday night. Birds are dinosaurs! Let me explain why as I guide you through making a paper crane. I swear I was saying it in my sleep all weekend.

    5. curly sue*

      I volunteered at a museum for a while when I was a uni student – I can still do the ‘bees’ lecture that went along with our on-site hive.

      1. Workswitholdthings*

        Its when you give to back to back tours and trying to remember which bits you’ve already said twice, and which ones once….

        (I’ve one coming up.in a week. TBh I cracked a joke about it and tell them to tell me if I’m repeating myself…)

      2. quill*

        I can still do two things by heart: the speeches from hamlet that I had the most lighting cues in (to be or not to be, and Claudius’ prayer) and the hawking calls for when I worked the games booths at a ren faire.

    6. stressball*

      Welcome to The Company, here’s all the basic IT stuff you need to know. Gave that one-on-one orientation so many times…

    7. Sigrid*

      I mean, heck, I’m an emergency room doctor and I give the same spiel to patients I’m discharging based on their diagnosis multiple times a day. “If you experience any of the following symptoms, please return to the Emergency Room immediately” etc. I even give the same explanation of a condition or disease process. “Your labs show that you’re suffering from what we call Acute Kidney Injury. That’s when….” etc. I have a script for most things. I’ve worked hard on those scripts. That’s the only way I’ll be sure I communicate the important information to a patient.

      Do I get bored with my patter when I’m discharging the fourth low-risk chest pain patient of the day? Yeah. Do the nurses roll their eyes because they can mouth the words along with me? Yeah. But scripts are IMPORTANT. If you don’t have scripts, you forget to communicate things.

      1. Nightengale*

        I’m an autistic doctor taking care of autistic patients (many of whom have autistic parents.) I live for scripts. That said, I do try to remember which patients have heard which scripts before. But if I have a medical student with me for 2 days and they hear the same script about medication side effects, or how ADHD affects the frontal lobe, or parenting strategies a few times. . . well that is how it goes sometimes.

        1. SameSame*

          Oh, how I wish I could find someone like you to be part of my family’s care team! (Any advice on how to find an autistic doctor who cares for autistic patients??)

    8. Ann. On a Mouse.*

      Despite not having worked at these attractions in 10+ years, I can still recite, nearly word-for-word, the 10+ minute script for 2 theme park attractions I worked at. (I can also do a passable job reciting the script for at least 3 more attractions that I never worked at, and standard airline safety instructions, though I’ve never been a flight attendant.)

    9. Pam Adams*

      I’m doing new student orientation this summer. I don’t even need to glance at the PowerPoint.

    10. The OG Sleepless*

      I’m a veterinarian. I actually try to change up the wording a little with these so they don’t sound too rehearsed, but here’s a short list of spiels I can do while my mind is wandering ahead to something else: how to socialize your puppy, aftercare for abdominal surgery, how allergies work, how to choose a dog food (including a couple of snarky lines about how my spiel doesn’t square with what they read online), and several introductions to chronic things like diabetes.

    11. Em*

      Legal rights for migrants, the drive by version, in Spanish and English! “Don’t try to use false papers, you can refuse to answer questions if you’re detained or arrested, you have the right to call an attorney if you’re detained or arrested, and don’t open the door to immigration agents or the police without seeing a judge’s warrant”

  22. megaboo*

    She’s not speaking to them specifically though. Are they out there in the field with people doing agriculture? Isn’t Jenn in the kitchen? You are not the audience, Jenn.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      This confused me too. If Jenn is in the kitchen most of the day cooking and John is CFO-ing in an office somewhere, how are they even hearing the script often enough to be annoyed by it? Do staff dine with guests as part of the agro-tour experience, so they’re hearing the same anecdotes every night over dinner? None of this makes sense.

  23. fine tipped pen afficionado*

    Pure speculation but do Jenn & John have some intergenerational wealth blinders on that have dissociated them this far from reality? I’m being snarky about it but sincerely this is ludicrous behavior and you would be doing them a favor by letting them know that. Even if, as others have suggested, there is something more going on here… this is a wildly immature and ineffective way for them to try addressing it.

    Now I’ll just try to imagine Jenn & John working in retail during the holidays. If you think Amy’s stores are repetitive… honey you’ve got a big storm comin.

    1. Shannon Williams*

      Something along these lines occurred to me too. These folks left their big city lives to pursue a dream, and maybe they expect it to be dreamy all the time. Why should they feel any kind of discomfort when they’re Living their Best Lives?

      I admittedly don’t know a ton of people who have the means to cash it all in and pursue their passion this completely, but there is one friend I do know who pops to mind in all this. He left behind a successful a startup as a multimillionaire and now has this amazing project he has been trying to bring to life in a beautiful place. It’s all awesome… until it isn’t. He just sort of checks out when the other people involved in his dream pursuit don’t behave in ways he wants them to. It’s so weirdly entitled and short-sighted that I can’t help but marvel.

      Anyway none of my speculations are useful to the LW – Alison and all the other commenters have given excellent advice about where LW should focus the attention going forward. And clearly the LW does have the right priorities in making this dream a success! I just couldn’t help but wonder about how wealth, privilege, and entitlement may factor into the complaints.

  24. Lab Boss*

    John is the CFO and Jenn is the head chef, both positions that don’t have strong customer-facing elements and definitely not the kind of positions that would be expected to give a constant flow of patter and entertainment to customers. Do they just… not realize how common this is? It seems like they view Amy’s script as “low effort” or something, instead of just a very normal part of the job. 100% agree with Alison’s advice here and hopefully that shakes up their perspective enough to realize how Amy’s job needs to work.

    (And lest ye doubt my bona fides working with repetitive entertainment- I taught the same class for 8 years at a summer camp and got so bored of repeating the same course content that more than once I zoned out completely for an hour, teaching completely on instinctive memory. None of the campers noticed. I also worked in a college bar when “I Gotta Feeling” was super popular and to this day would cheerfully strangle the entirety of the Black Eyed Peas.)

    1. ABCYaBye*

      I’ve done some training and a couple of times, have done multiple sessions in one day. Talk about zoning out… and / or not remembering to which group you told what story.

      1. Hannah S.*

        The head of guest services is…. over-focusing on the guests? WTF?

        Are there other areas where these two seem out of touch, odd, lacking in common sense or just downright weird? It seems unlikely that they’d be otherwise intelligent, effective and valuable colleagues and then turn around and say something this ridiculous!

    2. Nanani*

      They definitely have some kind of blinders on – and LW would do well to point out how much easier it is to find a chef and a finance person than Amy’s perfect storm of unicorn qualifications.
      Amys dont grow on trees!

  25. ABCYaBye*

    This is ridiculous. If Jenn and John have the gall to say that Amy “over-focuses on the clients to the detriment of her coworkers,” they really don’t have any idea how business works. I could probably dream up some far-fetched scenario in which over-focusing on clients is a detriment to coworkers, but it would be something like allowing a client to take the coworker’s car off-roading without permission or a driver’s license… because hey, the client wants that to be happy.

    But using the same script from day to day? Just because they’re annoyed by hearing the same thing doesn’t mean that’s a detriment to her coworkers either. That’s a them problem, not an Amy problem.

    I imagine that all of the partners probably end up eating something from time to time when Jenn makes up food in the kitchen. Is everything she prepares different every day? Or are there some repeated recipes? Is she famous for her lemon cake and do clients give rave reviews for that? Well, perhaps Amy is tired of having a slice of lemon cake and wants a spice cake.

    I like the suggestion that was made above that you should walk this back and apologize to Amy. Then walk it back with Jenn and John, apologizing for not handing it properly from the start and let them know that they were wrong, and then remind them that THE CUSTOMER IS THE FOCUS OF YOUR BUSINESS. If the customers are all happy, your business is good. If you stray from what you do well, your customer satisfaction will drop and you business will struggle.

    1. Anonym*

      Yeah, what office jobs did they leave for this exactly? If they were anywhere in the private sector, there should be some pretty foundational awareness that the customer IS the business. Can’t get over how completely odd their viewpoint is. Another commenter called it ludicrous, and I think that’s fair.

    2. Atalanta0jess*

      Right, this is how business works….we work as a team to best serve the customer. Your job as part of the team is to be less catered to than the customer. Cause you’re there to work.

      This is honestly very absurd.

    3. Mill Miker*

      Yeah, there’s a reason the customers are paying, and Jenn and John are being paid.

  26. Person from the Resume*

    I’m just going to note about irresplacibility. Alice is chief agricultural officer – an unusual job title. Amy is head of guest services and has transformed the experience into something guests rave about. Amy’s job is to shepherd 4-12 guests at a time through a multi-day agricultural experience. Consider how difficult it would be to replace this extremely unique role with a very unique ans specialized skillset.

    John is CFO and Jenn is executive chef. They may be good/great at their jobs, but both of these are jobs are not unique and you can hire for them.

    When you add that up with that fact that I agree with Alison that John and Jenn are being unreasonable. They hear the same tour speil multiple times. So what? It’s the tour script. It’s going to generally be the same for each group. So you need to consider that you need to keep Alice and Amy happier than John and Jenn because Alice and Amy are more important to your success than John and Jenn.

    1. Beth*

      Yeah — you can get another chef, you can get another finance guy. You can probably get new employees who will have the very common ability to tune out repetitive stories that bore them. I’m not very good at that skill myself, but I don’t regard this as everyone else’s problem; it’s my problem.

    2. Rain's Small Hands*

      I thought the same thing. I suspect the LW NEEDS Alice – which means that he needs Amy (although Amy is excellent at her job, so that’s worked out well). I would think, Chief Agricultural Officer for an agrotourism business isn’t something you are going to find a lot of people have the backgrounds for. And I suspect that Amy has turned out to be the perfect person for her job because her relationship with Alice means she really knows the farm – in addition to her own excellent customer facing skills.

      But a chef and a CFO, those you can replace. There are a lot of farm to table chefs. And a lot of people good at a CFO role.

      Don’t kill your goose that lays golden eggs because the chicken pecks at it.

  27. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

    Totally co-sign to everything Allison said here: Amy is doing what makes sense for her job (and what allows her to excel), and further what virtually anyone else would do in her job to succeed (source: have a theater background and have worked in hospitality).

    It’s understandable that John and Jenn might be a little bored or annoyed listening to the same schtick everyday, but bringing it up to you as “rude and disrespectful” of Amy is such a wild overreaction that, unless they’re both totally nuts, it makes me think there’s something else really going on here; I’d bet that if you scratch the surface here, John and Jen’s real issue is something else and they’re projecting their frustrations about whatever that is onto *this* issue instead. Maybe they have some larger conflict with Amy, maybe they’re frustrated with some other part of the business. After apologizing to Amy and reinforcing that she should keep doing what she’s doing, it might be wise to sit down with John and Jen and ask how the business is working for them in general.

  28. Sybil Rights*

    Very much agree with comments supporting Amy. It is hard enough to always ‘be on’ not just entertaining, but training and meeting a level of safety and quality control all at the same time. This is not a skill set you easily find all in one person!

    As the 70% owner of such a business, I hope you consider it part of your responsibility to research what other similar businesses are doing. Especially making a point of visiting similar dining rooms (including any farm-to-table restaurants) both in your area and when you travel. If you find yourself in a position in the next year or so that you need to replace your fabulous chef, you will be glad to know where you might find applicants. Might also be a good time to put emphasis on making sure that your support staff in the kitchen is high quality and able to step up if needed.

    Finally, does your partnership agreement covered structured buyouts so that if your chef suddenly decided to leave the partnership they would have a vested interest in a smooth transition (say, by getting paid out over 2-3 years?) If the business did not do well because the chef just leaves without a transition plan, they might get less of a payout?

    Best of luck to all of you – it sounds like a great business.

    1. Laney Boggs*

      Additionally — making sure any “important” recipes are written down. My friend’s restaurant lost their chef last year and still haven’t recovered.

      Jenn might also be projecting/on the edge of burnout? Head chef is a really difficult job and is usually characterized by crazy hours and heavy responsibilities, at least in traditional restaurants. I think backing her up and getting in other good staff that can pick up slack/work independently a few days a week is a good move whether she ends up leaving or not.

  29. Numbers Introvert*

    I think Jenn and John aren’t well-suited to customer-facing roles. That’s not a sin! I’m not, either…which is why I don’t seek them out. But they have ended up in roles that overlap with customer service…so they either need to suck it up (in terms of this element of their jobs) or find something else. Especially since Amy is the real irreplaceable element in this operation.

    I’m wondering if it would help to say, “Jenn and John, I know you’ve been on other tours and/or experiences with guides. What you heard from those guides is similar in approach to what Amy is doing. This is how this element of the world operates. I know that both of you have aspects of your work that are done by repetition and routine — this can’t be totally unfamiliar to you. Why do you think Amy’s approach is grating on you so?” And see what they say. Note — this should be done in the context of a discussion emphasizing that you’re not willing to risk the business by mucking with Amy’s very successful approach, and that it would be easier for Amy to go do what she does somewhere else than it would be for her to try to keep Jenn and John happy (which Amy will figure out eventually if Jenn and John are allowed to have their way).

  30. GraceC*

    For the “disrespectful” comment, all I could think of to make it make sense was that some of Amy’s anecdotes and jokes were something that felt insulting – I can see how an anecdote told while doing agricultural work, about the meal that’ll be cooked with this food later, could come up as part of Amy’s patter, for example. That way, it could certainly grate on the subjects of the anecdotes in a way that the “I beat you and won this medal” boss did…

    …and then I got to the “over-focuses on the clients to the detriment of her coworkers” complaint and decided that this was far too bizarre to make any logical sense of, so never mind

    1. me*

      Yeah, the *only* thing I could think of would be if some of the anecdotes show somebody in not the best light or part of the scripted dialogue teases somebody. But there’s nothing here to indicate that. It just seems like the people who don’t like Amy also don’t like the guests (or making money?)

    2. Lab Boss*

      It’s the only way I can make it make sense, though- something she’s saying bothers Jenn- she may even realize that it shouldn’t, but it does anyway. If the patter included obvious jokes at Jenn’s expense it would be much easier to say “ask her not to make fun of me.” But if it’s something that seems petty or silly, I can see Jenn convincing herself “oh, I’m not offended by that obviously harmless joke- I’m just mad that Amy is repeating it over and over because that’s so boring!”

      That doesn’t make Jenn’s complaint any more justified, but at least it makes it not so wildly out-there?

  31. EBStarr*

    LOL what?! Jenn is being absurd. She doesn’t just find it annoying, she’s actually trying to claim it’s disrespectful for Amy to… not focus her entire job on entertaining the chef?

    Alison’s comparison about the orchestra is very apt. I’m also imagining a trapeze artist getting mad at the clown because the clown’s act is the same every night. Or a train conductor being mad that the engineer doesn’t take them to a new destination every day.

  32. CatPerson*

    “they still maintain that she over-focuses on the clients to the detriment of her coworkers”

    And this…is a problem..exactly how?

    1. Nanani*

      Oh well spotted.
      Worth digging into when LW has a talk with J and J – you are not the customers, John and Jenn! Your opinion of the spiel does not matter!

  33. Not Your Admin Ass(t)*

    Letter Writer, everyone already has posted some great advice about how Amy is not the problem here and deserves an apology, and how there might be deeper issues behind John and Jenn’s resentment of her. I would also like to add that as the person with the most authority, you need to learn to examine a situation fully and see if a complaint has true merit before taking action. The squeaky wheel isn’t automatically always the one that needs to be greased. Too often, the person who keeps their head down and tries to do a good job ends up unjustly taking the blow just because a toxic person was louder with their complaints.

    1. Coffee Break*

      Agreed. Managing is so often a matter of gatekeeping to assess whether a problem has merit or not and if you decide it doesn’t, then it’s not truly a problem. It’s certainly not something that should be passed on to someone else to worry and waste time over when you have already made your decision (obviously with some exceptions).

      The fact that the OP thought it appropriate to report this to Amy, thereby making it Amy’s problem to solve, makes me think there might be cultural and interpersonal issues at play that have been allowed to brew for a while.

    2. Olivia*

      Yeah, I think what grates on me the most is that, even though it doesn’t seem like he was doing it consciously, what OP did was really take a problem that was his to deal with and offload it on Amy, who has considerably less power than he does in this situation. That’s not okay and it’s the opposite of good leadership.

      There’s also a pattern here that you see in families sometimes, where one person mistreats another and the mistreated person is expected to just not fuss about it because “keeping the peace”. The question is, who’s peace? And who pays the cost for it?

      The OP wants everyone to get along but that’s not happening, and in order to do right by everybody, you need to tell unreasonable people to knock it off, and as for the person who didn’t do anything wrong and who, it seems like, is maybe the key to your business’s success, you definitely do not expect them to put up with and even cater to(!!) mistreatment from others. You’re in charge, so it’s your job to have the difficult conversations. Trying to offload that uncomfortable situation onto Amy was a little cowardly, but you seem to get that maybe that was a mistake, so I think you can fix this and do right by her, and resolve to do better next time.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Squeaky wheel. Right on.
      OP, what you can say is, “As you work here you will hear Amy repeat the same things day in and day out. It’s part of the job to hear this repetition. And this part of the job will not change. You will need to develop coping tools if the repetition bothers you, because it’s part of what is necessary to bring in our income and YOUR paycheck.”

      It sounds like part of the problem is everyone is friends and you place a high value on everyone remaining friends. It’s not up to you, OP, to keep everyone in a good friendship.

  34. Oryx*

    This is such a weird complaint. Like I am legit so confused by all of this. It’s as if Jenn is somehow under the impression Amy is there to entertain her and not the guests. How is it disrespectful and rude? Is there some weird professional rivalry Jenn feels, if all of the positive reivews are for Amy and not her?

    “This has made a small improvement because they interact less with “public Amy,” but they still maintain that she over-focuses on the clients to the detriment of her coworkers”


    (I understand what it means on an intellectual level, but again it’s such a WEIRD complaint there has to be something else going on.)

    1. irene adler*

      Yeah- confusing.

      Only thing I can think of is that Amy’s narrative includes one or more stories about Jenn and/or John where they come off looking bad. Example: How many times can you hear about the antics that ensued after you dropped the entire birthday cake on the head of the birthday celebrant? A cake fight broke out and they cleaned crumbs from the dining room for weeks afterwards. Not something I want to re-live.

      I bet that isn’t the case here.

      This business is about entertaining the customer. So maybe make peace with Amy’s narrative as it creates happy customers. That’s the goal here, right?

    2. Warrant Officer Georgiana Breakspear-Goldfinch*

      I was trying to think of which media property this was because it is so weird. Like, is this a subplot from the new TV show The Bear, which I think is set in hospitality?

  35. CPegasus*

    “she over-focuses on the clients to the detriment of her coworkers”

    This is not….a thing? in customer service? You…have to focus on the clients. That’s where the money comes from. I’m not even sure this complaint would be reasonable if a CLIENT complained that they came to the tour twice and got the same stories twice, let alone that the rest of the staff heard different groups get the same talks.

    There are other people in the world who can do all of the jobs in the world. It would be wonderful if you can get John and Jenn to understand this and chill out (is it enough for Jenn to keep to the kitchen and play her own music and drown out the tour guide stuff?) but if you can’t….if this is a deal breaker for them, there are other chefs who will also be able to make wonderful food.

    1. Petty Betty*

      Right? Like, the customers are the entire reason FOR the business to exist. The reason the money rolls in. You can’t “over-focus” on customers when they are the only reason you have a business, job, and paycheck. Your co-workers aren’t going to pay your bills, especially when you’re ignoring customer needs for co-irker wants.
      Jenn has got some seriously weird priorities in her kitchen if she thinks the clients aren’t a priority.

    2. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      I don’t believe it’s at all what is happening here, but it IS possible to focus on clients to the detriment of team! We’ve all seen how “the customer is always right” can be distorted, leading to over-work, unreasonable expectations, and tolerating abuse. Creating a healthy, rewarding place to work for employees matters too — not at the expense of customers, but it should matter too.

      Even in your example, let’s say a client complained about coming twice and getting the same stories/experience twice. It would be over-rotating toward the customer to insist Amy completely reinvent the experience on the fly so that person doesn’t get a repeat. No, this is the package and the experience as is. It is supporting a coworker to push back on an unreasonable customer. It’s also supporting a coworker to push back on an unreasonable coworker, which is what needs to happen here.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah, it’s stop, drop and serve. Not: “I’ll be with you in a moment after soothing John and Jenn’s egos”.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      What is Amy doing, pushing people out of the way, “Guest Sue cannot see the flowers. YOU need to move. [followed by a strong shove].

      I reeeally don’t believe this is happening at all. It’s a long shot but maybe she did politely ask for something a guest needed and they felt put out by her request. “She’s not my boss. She can’t tell me what to do.” Okay. But the guest CAN request something and Amy can relay that request or even anticipate that request, that is fine.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      I mean, it can be a thing. It’s not at all a thing that’s happening in this circumstance, but for example (was this even a letter I read here? Or was it a BCO?) the winery who let the regular harass the waitstaff was focusing on customers to the detriment of coworkers.
      This is not that, not by a long shot.

  36. Rain's Small Hands*

    I wonder if Jenn has gotten to the BEC stage with Amy for some unrelated reason. This is the sort of business partner arrangement that means you spend a lot of time with each other. Not that that means anything different than what people are saying – Amy needs an apology and Jenn needs to get told to stay in her lane and the customer experience IS more important than “things that annoy Jenn about Amy.” Jenn needs to find a way to deal with it.

    I also wonder if this is a sign that Jenn is less invested in this dream project than her husband…but unable to be annoyed at her husband, she’s picking on Amy. And I’m willing to bet if that is the case, Amy is the easiest target.

    1. ABCYaBye*

      I was wondering if there were different levels of personal investment here, too. That would obviously cause some little things to bubble to the surface.

      The other thing that is challenging is that of the five partners, there are two couples. So when they go home for the day, they’re talking about work with someone from work. It makes it much more challenging to unplug and reset if they’re feeding one another’s worry, anxiety, grumpiness, etc. When my wife gets home and needs to vent about her day or vice versa, the other can offer support, advice or just listen, and then we move on. But in this case (especially apparent with John and Jenn) they go home and if they’re stressed or grumpy, it can compound and there’s no actual stress relief.

    2. Laura*

      Yes, this was my take, too! It reads to me like a romantic relationship – Jenn is ready to get out, and instead of taking a breath, and figuring out a way to mature (but likely slow/painful) way to transition out, she’s burning it down (the way that some people cheat in romantic relationships when they’re ready to be done, so the other person will have to break up with them).

      I would have a lot of questions about Jenn’s commitment to the business, and maybe start to figure out succession plans for all the people. The fact that this business relies on two marriages also makes it complicated, from my perspective – you get all the mess of the relationships as well as the mess of having a business with friends. You guys need to find some gentle ways to have the tough conversations about the deeper stuff – ie, do you really want to be doing this? What does it mean for each individual if that individual or the others don’t want to continue?

      Sounds like a tough situation. Wish you the best, OP.

      1. BA*

        The suggestion of a succession plan is SPOT ON. There’s no reasonable way to expect that everyone will want to stay with the business forever, so planning for departures now is critical. It is more imperative to plan for unplanned departures or absences. How are you handling a medical leave? A divorce?

        This situation, as bad as it is, may be a perfect jumping off point for those larger conversations.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      That could well be true, especially as I think the Letter Writer phases it as “my partner, John and his wife, Jenn” (and “my partner Alice, and her wife, Amy,” but that’s not so relevant) so it might be the LW, John and Alice who planned this and Jenn just sort of got pulled into it, because it’s her husband’s project. Maybe she’d really rather be working in a traditional restaurant and she’s really annoyed at having to deal with other aspects of things – tours, the farm, etc – and she’s focussing on this spiel, because it’s the most obvious thing, but what is REALLY annoying her is the focus on the “experience.” Maybe she’d prefer to just be working with the food and not have to deal so much with creating an experience for the guests and that is what she means by “focussing too much on the guests”?

      Like “I just want to COOK. I don’t want to have to hear over and over again about where the food comes from and how lucky we are to be eating true farm-to-table food and have to smile and answer the same stupid questions from guests.” If that is the case, it’s not really about Amy, but about whether this is the right role for Jenn.

      1. quill*

        Yeah. It seems like part of the problem is that this has become a family business where the whole family (both of them) is in each other’s pockets round the clock. I’m guessing that everyone relocated for this (left city jobs for agrotourism) and Amy has adapted splendidly to working at the business her spouse co-owns, while Jenn is possibly doing this for lack of good opportunity here / because the family’s finances are already sunk into the business to such a degree that it doesn’t make sense for her not to be part of the business.

      2. Rain's Small Hands*

        Its even possible Jenn isn’t a “chef” but a really good cook — “and Jenn is a good cook, she can be our executive chef!” Being a good chef and being happy doing it is a passion job – its hard stressful work. So she sees John and the LW and Alice doing jobs they chose….and Amy exceling and happy at the job she was thrust into which seems “easy” in comparison to getting three meals a day on the table for guests and running a kitchen, and lashing out because this isn’t what she really wanted – although the LW says she’s good at it. I’ve had plenty of jobs I’ve been good and but didn’t like. If something like that is going on, it might be time for Jenn to find a different job – if this business isn’t her passion.

        To me it sounds like Jenn isn’t happy about something and has decided to nitpick on this stupid thing rather than saying to John “you brought me out here and gave me a job I didn’t want and I don’t like it.” They left successful city careers – that means John and Jenn MOVED out to the middle of nowhere (or a relative middle of nowhere) to do this, if she isn’t in 100% because she’d rather be having Sunday brunch with friends at a hot spot in the city than cooking it for a dozen guests, she’s going to lash out in stupid ways.

        1. Books and Cooks*

          This is an excellent point! I love cooking and baking, and am very good at it–I’ve even won a couple of little local competitions and such. I’ve always joked/semi-dreamed about opening a restaurant or little bakery.

          But it’s only a fun semi-dream because I know myself well enough to know that while imagining it is fun, the reality would quickly become not so fun. I love being a great home cook; I love it when friends/neighbors/employees start asking me in October when I’ll start making the Christmas cookies, or request specific things for potlucks and such. I would NOT like cooking for paying customers on a nightly basis, though, and I do wonder if part of this is Jenn realizing that she’s sick of being in the kitchen all the time…but instead of being able to say, “I don’t want to do this anymore, it’s boring,” she focuses on, “I’m tired of hearing Amy’s stupid patter all the time,” because that’s something she can complain about without having to admit it’s not the real problem.

      3. GammaGirl1908*

        These comments really get at some specific issues that are very possible, AND that Jenn might be having a very hard time articulating; it’s a bunch of very narrow issues that run deep.

        John may have talked this farm thing up to a semi-reluctant Jenn, promising that if she gave it a real shot with a smile and they didn’t love it, they could leave after a couple of years, and now he LOVES it and she is not as happy as she had hoped (is she a city girl who had to move to the middle of nowhere for the first time, while John was always a country boy at heart and was happy to leave the city?). Then they may have sunk a truckload of money in, and leaving isn’t super feasible. Then Jenn may be good at it, but not love cooking for a living (a lot of people don’t want to do their hobby for a living), or, as noted, may prefer a more traditional restaurant to having weekend fake farmers all up in her (literal) grill. Then Jenn may be irritated at how freaking HAPPY the other spouse who got dragged into this mess is, which is why she’s at BEC stage with Amy.

        As alluded by so many others above, the solution to all of this is a new job for Jenn (…and better problem-solving by LW…), not that Amy needs new stories. Jenn doesn’t need to hate the place to leave; she doesn’t need to stomp out in a huge snit or shriek at her husband that his dream is stupid. But this kind of business really isn’t for everyone, and she may not yet have come to the reality that this setup isn’t working for her anymore.

  37. Petty Betty*

    Consider buying J&J out of their half of the 30% (15% of the overall business?) and hire a new CFO and chef. It’s better than having to buy out Amy and *her* spouse and losing a customer-facing partner who legitimately gets rave reviews and is the one who keeps the clientele happy. Finding that kind of customer-oriented person is hard. A chef and a CFO? Much easier.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      It may be possible the get a new chef and keep the CFO too. Depends on their personalities. If Jenn doesn’t like dealing with customers, there’s lots of restaurants that the head chef/executive chef doesn’t have too deal with customers. She could just be unhappy with her job now and projecting that unhappiness at Amy.

      1. Another ADDer*

        “If Jenn doesn’t like dealing with customers, there’s lots of restaurants that the head chef/executive chef doesn’t have too deal with customers….”

        But there might not be any within accessible distance if she lives at or near the farm. If Jenn would have to relocate to work at a traditional restaurant, it might not be feasible for John to stay with the business.

  38. Melanie Cavill*

    “A consummate professional, she’d never repeat a story to a guest – she has layers of stories for repeat guests – but she does repeat in front of other employees.”

    A lot of people are wondering why John and Jenn even care. Based off this line, the impression I got is that Amy is treating the other employees like her own personal stand-up practice audience? But if it’s just conducting the tour when other employees might be present and within earshot, like a professional, then the complaint has no water.

    1. Nanani*

      I read it as “sometimes the other employees are in earshot” and J&J feel disrespected that, I guess, they don’t rate the “repeat guest” treatment? Which is ridiculous because they aren’t guests.

      1. Melanie Cavill*

        If I had a co-worker who would constantly pull me into repetitive conversations against my preference, I’d go a bit crazy too. But the general consensus among commenters is that that isn’t what this is.

        What I don’t get is, isn’t an executive chef too busy in the kitchen to be witness to regular tours? Is Amy and her group trampling through the kitchen every day, boots muddy from agro-work, while Amy tells the same story every day of the time Jenn dropped a souffle and everyone laughed? Probably not. So I’m baffled at the logistics of it all.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I read it the same way you did, but if that is the case, surely the obvious answer would be to ask Amy to practice in her room or somewhere else quiet rather than asking her to change her entire routine.

          And given the solutions the LW tried, I’m guessing that wasn’t the case anyway.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      I read this as the staff overhears much of Amy’s spiel, and while she has layers of stories, of course by now the staff has !Heard! !Them! !ALL! and Jenn is expressing annoyance about it. (Jenn is still in the wrong, though.)

  39. Richard Hershberger*

    Is Amy telling these stories when there are no guests around, just to keep in practice? This is the only way I am make the complaints rational. If the complaint is about Amy using the same spiel to each batch of guests, it is completely bonkers.

    Pro tip: a CFO, and even an executive chef, are easier to replace than someone doing what Amy does as well as she does.

    1. quill*

      I imagine it’s pretty easy to trigger one of Amy’s scripts accidentally when in meetings, or perhaps just around the farm. Especially if they’re specific jokes, or if amy has to present something related to her usual patter for meetings.

      Amy: for the safety of our guests we need new equipment for activity Y, because a hand is a terrible thing to loose.
      Jenn: We KNOW
      Amy: relatedly, guests are really into our “buried secret” amontillado
      Jenn: for the love of god Montressor!

  40. idwtpaun*

    I’m just going to add to the chorus here of people who can’t believe Jenn’s complaint. Yes, Amy’s job is to tell the same anecdotes to different groups of people, as pointed out by Alison in her answer and other commentators, that’s the case with a lot of jobs!

    I can believe Jenn finds this grating, but a lot of job tasks are grating. But disrespectful and rude?!

    Unless Amy’s routine includes some sort of out of line comment about Jenn (“don’t forget to kiss the chef”? something actually crude and inappropriate?), I can’t understand what Jenn is on about.

  41. Madame X*

    “but they still maintain that she over-focuses on the clients to the detriment of her coworkers.”

    Yes, that’s correct because that is literally Amy’s job as Head of Guest Services. What’s not clicking with Jenn and John? How is this a complaint? Amy is ensuring (and excelling) that the guest have a wonderful time at this resort. Her focus should not be on her colleagues.

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      I’m wondering if John and Jenn are used to being “too dogs” in their former careers and are now learning that in a guest-oriented business, they are support staff to the customer-facing side. There are many executives I’ve met who are resentful of the accolades that go to the customer-facing side that are “junior” (in their eyes) to them.

      1. Madame X*

        It certainly sounds that way. The LW kind of hinted at it, but it seems to me that Jenn and John are jealous of the amount of accolades that Amy is receiving. The nature of Amy’s position is such that she is much more customer facing than Jenn & John, so naturally most of the praise that the guests have for the resort is going to be directed at Amy. One person mentioned this upthread that the complaints that Jenn & John have are not really issues but rather are positions. Jenn & Jonn’s position is that they have not adjusted well to the idea that their role now is more as background players, that are still critical to the business. Instead of reframing their mindset of how they fit into the success of this business, they are taking out their frustrations on Amy.

        Of course i’m speculating here, but it makes a lot more sense to me that J&J are jealous of Amy rather than the idea that the head of guest services is too focused on providing a good service to the guests.

    2. Jora Malli*

      This is the part that baffled me. How is it a problem that the head of Guest Services is focused on making sure the guests have a good experience and learn all the things they came to this farm to learn?

  42. Fiona*

    The only way I could imagine this complaint having a shred of merit would be if Amy involved her colleagues in her storytelling/joking/banter on every tour, and expected them to engage. That would be irritating to me, if my job was not in client management/services. But if it’s just about the indignity (!) of *overhearing* (!) something that helps your business thrive? Extremely weird complaint.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Or maybe she DOESN’T involve Jenn – could that be it? She’s giving a tour of the kitchen, but not introducing Jenn or ignoring her while they are in the kitchen, and Jenn WANTS to participate?

      Grasping at straws here…

    2. Kay*

      I can find that irritating as well – but still within the realms of reason for a small boutique hospitality business like this.

      I think unless Amy is purposely using the guests to circumvent Jenn & Johns wished to an outrageous degree – like encouraging guests to request last minute changes to recipes/the menu and promising them they can be done (when they really can’t without throwing away a whole meals worth of food and excessive delays) and John will do your taxes for you kind of outrageous – it doesn’t rise to complaint level. Something tells me nothing like this is going on.

  43. Pidgeot*

    Dollars to donuts this is a jealousy issue – J&J see Amy getting this warm interaction with the guests and are perhaps feeling undervalued for their own work. CFO and Exec Chef don’t really get the feel-good kudos from the happy customers when they do a good job – maybe once in a while the chef will get compliments, but they don’t get to sit their and watch people enjoy the food. They probably see Amy doing the same thing all the time and getting the spotlight, and think, “she’s just doing the same thing and she gets all this praise.”

    You may be able to nip this in the bud by thinking about how J&J get kudos/acknowledgement/praise about their job aspects, and ensuring that they feel valued. But if they’re already complaining about petty things like Amy’s script, it may be too far gone to remediate. Still, worth a try!

    I hope we get an update on this one – this is a nuanced interpersonal conflict that we don’t see often on this site, and even though J&J are likely unfairly picking on Amy, I think there is a world where you could patch this up and bring the group back together.

    But do set a timeline – if J&J can’t work with Amy, you’ll do more harm to your business by trying to hold it together rather than cutting them loose. And you could lose A&A in the process.

  44. academicadmin*

    They’re complaining that the Head of Guest Services ” over-focuses on the clients” ???

    1. Not So NewReader*

      But Jenn is too focused on cooking and John is too focused on finances. What is up with people.

  45. Retired MomCat*

    I pinged to Amy intuiting that it was Jenn who complained. There’s mud in this water. For some other reason, Jenn and Amy are at odds and it’s manifested in annoyance and pettiness. I don’t necessarily think it’s something that OP can or should dig into. Follow Allison’s spot on advice and try to get everyone on a civil, professional footing.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      It sounds like Amy is dealing with it very maturely though. She even tried to adapt her script. I agree there is more going on than John and Jenn just being annoyed by Amy’s scrips, but woah, the difference between how Amy reacts and how Jenn and John do…

  46. ENFP in Texas*

    “they still maintain that she over-focuses on the clients to the detriment of her coworkers”

    This is a CLIENT-ORIENTED BUSINESS. Without the clients, there is no business.

  47. BellyButton*

    John and Jen are ridiculous. It is a script. I sometimes teach the exact same 4 hour workshop 3 times in a day. I know what stories and jokes get people engaged and work. My dogs have heard it so much that they could teach the workshop.

  48. CheesePlease*

    Is it possible that Amy is involved J & J in her stories / tour? Ex: “Over here is where we have our pumpkin patch. Jenn, remember 3 years ago when we had too many pumpkins and you had to make pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread for a month? haha it’s was much pumpkin!” or “Make sure to wear gloves when raking, otherwise you may get blisters – John tried to help me one year and oh boy he couldn’t even use his phone his hands hurt so bad after he forgot to wear gloves” I can see that being a bit annoying if Amy is expecting them to chime in with their bits, or if they are part of a joke.

    However, one would think that 1) they would have complained about that specifically and 2) said something directly (“Hey Amy could you talk about glove safety without talking about me? I find it embarrassing”)so it’s still very weird they find the use of a (successful!) script to be disrespectful and rude

    1. kiki*

      I think this is a great point to bring up. I can definitely see how maybe Jenn and John, since they’re not operating on a script, may feel strange interacting with Amy when she is in scripted mode. It seems like OP already tried to address that, though, by letting Jenn and John pretty much fully opt out of guest interactions.

    2. Nonke John*

      Yes, complaints that Amy “over-focuses on the clients to the detriment of her coworkers” and is “disrespectful” make sense if she’s commandeering people’s time (“Jenn here will be happy to [give up her scheduled break and] whip up some omelettes if anyone’s peckish!”) or, as you say, making them look foolish or drafting them into her presentations in order to entertain customers. Sales and services people who drive colleagues crazy with that sort of thing are not exactly unknown. The OP seems to have thought about this a lot and probably would have noticed, though.

    3. irene adler*

      Yeah- this was my thought.
      If Amy’s narrative includes stories that make Jenn and/or John look bad/silly/inept, it can be tiring to hear that over and over again. But then, the complaint lodged should have been very specific: Please ask Amy to find another story for the pumpkin patch that does not include my embarrassing bout with blisters when I didn’t wear gloves.

      And then OP asks Amy to find a different pumpkin patch story to relate to the guests.

  49. WonkyStitch*

    Such a silly complaint. Stuff like this can cause a successful business to crash and burn.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I’d be tempted to ask the two of them why this is a hill to die on and why they seem so interested in pulling a good business down.

      In regular workplaces, the one who berates, bullies, gossips etc is a liability. This negative person can ruin a business. What will it take for them to get over their negativity and make a positive contribution to the business?

  50. Not My Name*

    I previsouly worked in a very script-heavy sales environment where we constantly heard the exact same, nearly verbatim, pitch come from every coworker with every client, multiple times a day, per our company policy. Even the personal anecdotes we threw in were also always the same- becuase that’s what works. If it works, works well, and moves your busniess forward, don’t fix what isn’t broken. Having a solid, reliable, successful script is likely what makes Amy so comfortable and confident with your guests, which is what in turn is leading to the rave reviews of your business.
    OP, if I were you, I’d apologize to Amy for throwing her off her groove.

  51. Irish Teacher*

    I was kinda thinking it just sounded like a personality conflict until I got to the part that Jenn thinks you took Amy’s “side.” Apart from the fact that you’re not a preschool teacher and should be making judgements based on what is best for the business and not based on sides, well…if anything, you took Jenn’s. I don’t mean that in a bad way; I’m not criticising you, but I cannot imagine HOW asking Amy to do exactly what Jenn wanted even if it made Amy’s job harder could constitute “taking Amy’s side.” If AMY had made the same complaint, I’d still think it a childish reaction, but I could at least see where she was coming from.

    It sounds like no compromise at all would be acceptable to Jenn, nothing short of your insisting Amy do exactly what Jenn wants would be good enough.

    And honestly, the complaint about Amy focussing on the needs of her coworkers to the detriment of her coworkers? That’s literally what she is there to do, to focus on the coworkers.

    I’m wondering if Amy is a newer addition to the team and Jenn and John just don’t like the change. Or even if they are bothered by their coworker marrying, if that was a recent thing.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      OP, the only side you need to be on is the side of the business itself. To the taking sides comments you can say, “This isn’t a grammar school playground. This is a legit business. I am on the side of making good decisions for the business, regardless of where the suggestion or idea comes from.”

  52. Lu*

    I interview candidates and onboard new hires and I absolutely have a script for both. This is enormously helpful for me on days where I’m not on my A game or feeling a bit disengaged in my job, but it also means there’s consistency in the information I’m providing. I speak to my target audience…and that’s not my coworkers.

  53. Squidhead*

    J&J sound ridiculous, especially on the “disrespectful and rude” point. But it made me wonder if the *content* of the script is the heart of the problem. Is Amy saying something incorrect? Like “the carrots are all grown locally and Jenn picks them the very morning we use them” and Jenn is like “I have never picked a carrot in my life, that’s not what executive chefs even do and I have told you so repeatedly!” If (small chance, I assume, but if) this is the case, maybe Amy’s scripts need a round of fact-checking.

    I worked in a semi-public building and a staff member would give tours to prospective clients that were wildly incorrect. It made her seem like an idiot and also seemed to us like she was selling the clients a false product, even if most of them would probably never know the difference.

    1. Heather*

      That’s a good approach for the OP to start with maybe. “I understand you have some problems with Amy’s presentation. Can you give me some details?”

      1. Observer*

        Don’t do that. That’s giving a lot of credence to their initial complaint and practically giving them a script to keep complaining without having anything legitimate to complain about.

        The thing is that J&J are both adults who should be able to use the CORRECT words to describe their problem. So if the issue is actually that Amy is saying things that are incorrect, embarrassing or actually disrespectful, they should say that. Not make up some other nonsense.

        Sure, the OP should listen to the scripts to make sure that there is nothing objectively problematic there. And also, give them an opening to present any other problems that might actually be going on. But it needs to be in the form of “This complaint makes no sense and we’re not going to keep going round and round about it. If there actually is something else going on, you’re going to need to explain that.”

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Agreed. OP should go along on a tour just to take note if there are any stories that mention J or J or if part of the tour involves getting them to interact with the customers, but their involvement was never run by them first, so now they are annoyed the tour interrupts their work. If either of these are happening, it is reasonable to ask Amy to change it up and leave J&J out of it, except for a bio of Jenn’s culinary (e.g. Jenn trained in Japan and France with ___ and ____. Prior to coming here, she was a sous chef at the French Laundry) because that IS important in this kind of experience. Jenn can vet the bio and it doesn’t have to be delivered where she can hear it.

          If J&J are not mentioned at all beyond being named as partners (backstory and founders is an important part of agro-tourism because it connects people to place) and aren’t interrupted by the tours, LW needs to tell them that Amy is doing her job and the script is an important part, so they need to adapt/cope. If they refuse or don’t like the degree of interaction with the guests, I’m thinking for this type of place you might want to start thinking of how to buy them out and replace them. My SIL owns a similar business that ran into a lot of these issues with her partners who were all equal owners. Eventually, the less customer oriented partners took a more background role and hired people to be front facing in their stead, which likely saved their business.

  54. AnotherLibrarian*

    There’s more going on here. For Jenn and John to not realize this is literally the job of a tour guide is super weird. I’ve worked at tour guide gigs all through college and early career. Some of them you are literally given a script. And I made good money doing this, because you know what? It’s hard! Anyone who thinks its not has clearly never been “on” every day for eight hours.

    I get that this whole project started as a passion thing! But this is now a business and you need to think of it as a business. The issues of “over-focuses on the clients to the detriment of her coworkers” can be a real one- if, for example, Amy is allowing clients to be abusive to coworkers or something like that, but if that’s the case you have a totally different problem on your hands.

  55. AnonyNurse*

    In nursing school, I was given a poor midterm clinical evaluation that said that I was “too focused on the psychosocial needs of patients” while also noting there were no concerns with my clinical skills.

    Translation: I was a second degree student and had been working in social services for years. Patients loved me and came to me with questions.

    IN A HOSPITAL. I was too focused on … the patients’ needs.

    I hated nursing school. Hated working in hospitals. Love being a public health nurse. :)

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      As someone who had 3 hospital stays in the past year I’m grateful to the nurses I had who focused on my needs! A nurse is usually the person who has the most interaction with a patient, and they can really affect the whole tone of the patient’s visit/stay. Glad you’re in a sector where your personal skills are appreciated!

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Oh wow. So what else were you supposed to be focusing on? If your clinical performance was on point, what other than patients were you supposed to focus on?

      (Fist bump to PH nurses. You guys and CHRs are my favorite people in the world)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Patients expect medical people to be human beings first and medical people second.

      1. Ermintrude*

        The main reason I didn’t crack it during my 2.5 week stay in hospital a year ago was mainly because of the nurses, some were almost friends by the time I left.
        Imagine if they tried to be inventive with instructions and procedures.

  56. WellRed*

    OP I suspect there are other problems here (Amy knew it was Jenn. Such a weird complaint to boot!) and this is how it’s manifesting. I wouldn’t be surprised if John and Jenn leave sooner rather than later. Would John have an issue if Jenn didn’t? Do y’all know how tourism is supposed to work?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think probably Amy will leave before anyone. She seems like she’s the rainmaker here and she’s getting all the grief. She’s only going to put up with that for so long and then she’s done. It takes a lot of energy to be a tour guide and constantly talking. And then listening to your own voice drone on and on…ugh.

  57. Paper Librarian*

    My first thought reading through the letter and Jenn and John’s complaints was, “Well, they’re wrong.” And I cringed when OP gave credence to their complaint.

    There’s a comment here that suggested maybe Jenn and John are put on display as part of this tour. Like if they stop by Jenn’s kitchen and talk about her in third person or something while she works. That could be a legitimate complaint, but that is very different from “your repetitive stories are disrespectful.” Maybe the script could be changed, but otherwise this is a problem that Jenn and John need to resolve themselves.

  58. NNT*

    This is so true! It can be uncomfortable to have to tell people no, but part of managing is enforcing boundaries, rather than just defaulting to the solution that you believe will cause the least conflict. OP, your job here is not to “keep the peace” at all costs- your job is to make decisions that are to the betterment of the entire operation, and letting one person’s unreasonable demands hold everyone hostage will only lead to more of the very awkwardness and conflict that you are trying to avoid in the first place. Be firm, kind, and polite, but hold your boundaries.

    Just in case this sounds judgmental- I have been in this position as a new manager before, and it was a nightmare that I could have nipped in the bud with a little bit of plain speaking at the start. Eventually I created a monster who expected his every ridiculous whim to be catered to, and getting out of that dynamic was way more difficult than it would have been to set clear boundaries in the first place.

  59. Lilo*

    I want to add here, part of why this complaint is so bad and the way LW handled it was so wrong is it makes it very, very hard to Amy to do her job and makes her feel like she’s under a microscope or being critiqued for something that’s way outside of her duties. It’s anxiety inducing and non conductive for her to actually do her job.

    This is why it’s so very very crucial LW backtrack, apologize for the “coaching” and passing in the criticism, and shut it down. She’s making Amy’s job impossible by entertaining this.

    Jenn and John are ridiculous but ultimately, LW, YOU made Amy’s job very hard and YOU need to fix it.

    1. NNT*

      This is so true! It can be uncomfortable to have to tell people no, but part of managing is enforcing boundaries, rather than just defaulting to the solution that you believe will cause the least conflict. OP, your job here is not to “keep the peace” at all costs- your job is to make decisions that are to the betterment of the entire operation, and letting one person’s unreasonable demands hold everyone hostage will only lead to more of the very awkwardness and conflict that you are trying to avoid in the first place. Be firm, kind, and polite, but hold your boundaries.

      Just in case this sounds judgmental- I have been in this position as a new manager before, and it was a nightmare that I could have nipped in the bud with a little bit of plain speaking at the start. Eventually I created a monster who expected his every ridiculous whim to be catered to, and getting out of that dynamic was way more difficult than it would have been to set clear boundaries in the first place.

    2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      Totally agree. One of the hardest things being a manager is to tell a complainer that they are the problem. You also need to tell Amy that you are correcting your mistake. You need to do this ASAP to ensure Amy doesn’t leave.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      Good point – there’s no way that undermining Amy’s confidence in her role won’t affect her performance and thus guest satisfaction.

  60. CASH ASH*

    It’s really simple. You defined this company as agro-tourism. That makes Amy a tour guide. Tour guides use a script for consistency. Amy has proven she is fantastic at this job, so her approach does not need to change. What should change is the attitude of the other two staff. They are not at work to be entertained. They are at work to WORK.
    If Amy had an issue with the way Jenn cut carrots would you take that to Jenn? No.
    As the majority owner, you are in charge. Tell them to update their attitudes AND go back to Amy and make sure she knows she is doing an amazing job because that is the type of feedback that can rip right through someone’s confidence.

  61. Dog Ate my TPS Reports*

    John and Jenn will find a new way to feel disrespected every week if the OP indulges them.

  62. IndoorKitty*

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Jenn and John had other issues with Amy, and this weirdness is just a symptom. You know how it is, when you don’t like someone, EVERYTHING they do is annoying.

  63. Just Your Everyday Crone*

    For this situation, I’d think digging in a little more might help, mostly because I have difficulty believing that the real issue is “Amy is disrespectful by having a script for her tour” and because it is a close-knit group. I’ve done a little training in mediation and “Amy’s disrespectful and needs to stop” is a position rather than an issue, and getting to the issue helps resolve the situation. People have already mentioned possibilities, like, are the tours disrupting the kitchen, are the jokes or stories at John or Jenn’s expense, etc.

  64. Chris too*

    When I think of a tiny restaurant in the country serving gourmet farm to table food, I imagine something where the chef is really famous in fancy travel magazines, that sort of thing. I imagine that Jenn thought she was going to be the star of the show for her skill, and is irritated that Amy is getting all the attention for her personality – something she was born with, not something she had to train or study for. Jenn isn’t being reasonable, but from a human perspective I can understand her feelings.

    If I thought the people were interested and able to make this work, both skill wise and personality wise, I might wonder about expanding the business to a separate small farm to table restaurant where Jenn can be the star, and where Amy never goes. You could hire another chef for the guest cooking in the inn. The customers would then have a choice of two places to eat, and you’d bring in a different set of customers to Jenn’s restaurant – ones that just want the experience of eating the awesome food, without harvesting the leeks themselves.

    They’d have to just be irritated with each other, not at each other’s throats. Maybe the situation is too far gone for this.

    1. Nanani*

      Well, no. Amy’s skills ARE things she trained and studied for. She has a background in theatre and education. She didn’t crawl out of the ground with those skills.

      You may be right that Jenn THINKS this way but it’s not true, and LW might want to snuff that idea out if it is indeed in play.

      1. Observer*

        Yes. Amy is repeating the same stories because this stuff is not all that natural. Yes, there has to be a basis of natural talent. But this level of performance is about as “natural” as a concert performance.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Betcha Jenn and John think she’s getting “too much praise” for what is easily acquired natural talent too. When will people learn that interpersonal skills – especially presenting or teaching – take years to develop?

    2. Jake*

      I wouldn’t say they are at each other’s throats, Jenn and John are going for Amy’s throat for no discernable reason.

      This is so bizarre on their part that trying to salvage the situation by bending to their will is likely to just drive Amy away. When you allow ridiculous people to do ridiculous things to the detriment of the business, any reasonable and good employee is going to leave.

    3. OrigCassandra*

      Nitpick: Whatever Amy’s personality, the kind of behavior she’s displaying when she’s “on” is a set of learned skills. Calling it “something she was born with” is both inaccurate and diminishes her work.

      I’m a teacher, well-known among the local student base for passion, COMpassion, clear explanations,(appropriate) humor, and integrity. I wasn’t “born with” any of that — if it looks that way, that just means I’m that much better at what I do. It takes work. Even, yes, the compassion sometimes.

      1. Observer*

        That’s not a “nit pick”. That’s at the heart of the issue. If they think it “just comes naturally” that is their problem. And it’s a huge problem because it’s the only way that Amy can actually do her job.

        Which is all to say that I agree with you 100%, and don’t want anyone to under-estimate the significance of the problem.

    4. Lady Blerd*

      This is the second explanation that I’ve seen in the comments that I buy as a reason for Jenn’s irritation. She is still in the wrong but at least her complaint would make sense to me because she probably knows she’d wouldn’t look good saying that she wanted to be the face of the business.

  65. Jennifer Strange*

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around what I just read. Their complaint is that the Head of Guest Services is providing too much service to the guests? Seriously?

  66. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

    LW, what is up with this dynamic that you thought of everything except “explain to John and Jenn that you will not grant their unreasonable request?” Why are they the ones that you and Amy have to appease at all costs? Are they boat rockers?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I think OP places a high value on “getting along”, so it may not matter who has a complaint.

      OP with any new workplace there is a honeymoon period where things are great. Once the honeymoom period is over it does not come back. You are out of the honeymoon phase and people are figuring out, “No. Wait. This is REAL work!”

  67. HufferWare*

    Lots of people can cook, Amy’s talents are far more rare. You are trying to appease the wrong person here. Maybe it’s time to consider buying out Jenn and John as they sound like they are looking for reasons to rock the boat.

  68. Almost Empty Nester*

    Honestly I would be more concerned that Amy would tire of the repetitiveness and bolt…she’s the more critical resource here. Jenn and John need to stay in their own lane.

  69. Rain's Small Hands*

    Oh, on the “we need everyone”

    Microsoft did just fine when Paul Allen moved on. The Beatles found success without Stuart Sutcliffe or Pete Best (and got rid of Best to find success). Ronald Wayne famously missed out on Apple – he held 10% for about two weeks to be “the adult in the room.”

  70. Meep*

    I feel like there is a missing reason here. Jenn is annoyed at Amy for something other than the repeat stories. Find out what the true problem is. Then you can address it.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      This is probably WAY off but I wondered if perhaps Amy wasn’t involved in the original setting up of the business, but only came on board when she married Alice? And they feel they had this really tight group of four friends running the business together and now Amy is always around when they are trying to talk to Alice and maybe she has some opinions on how the business should be run that differ a little and they just feel her being around has “changed things”?

      1. Meep*

        That is a very good possibility considering Jenn is annoyed OP sided with Amy and how petty it is.

  71. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

    Also this is so bizarre I have to ask: any chance Jenn and John have some unconscious homophobia they need to unpack?

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I don’t know. If they’ve been friends long enough to plan this business, start it and find success, I was assuming the business has been going on for a few years or more and a lesbian couple has aways been a part of it. I do suspect there is something else bothering Jenn (and John), but I’m doubtful homophobia would arise suddenly out of the blue.

      I think also suspect whatever it is is bothering Jenn and she’s bringing her husband along for the complaints and for backup. That can be a problem in a “family” business.

    2. Kelly L.*

      I’m wondering this too. Usually when someone jumps to “disrespectful” and it makes no sense, they’re seeing that person as beneath them for some reason. So I feel like there are a couple of possibilities here: maybe they think they’re Amy’s boss and they’re not; maybe she’s much younger; maybe they’re homophobic; maybe she’s a POC and they’re racist.

  72. BA*

    I’ve been reading the comments and thinking about this a lot, as I have some direct experience in this world.

    There’s one line that gets me thinking that perhaps John and Jenn aren’t totally off-base. But OP needs to definitely approach this with them. The OP writes “she has layers of stories for repeat guests – but she does repeat in front of other employees.”

    So OP needs to dig into that a little more. What is bothering Jenn and John specifically? Draw them out and really make sure they can articulate what their true concerns are. If Amy is “practicing” on them, that’s something that perhaps needs to be discussed. I can understand how that might be a problem, especially if you’re trying to focus on your own job and someone is rehearsing on you. That would make sense. But they need to articulate that specifically and directly.

    There’s more that makes me think that Jenn and John are out of touch with how hospitality and tourism work, so it is worth sitting down with them and really asking them to examine what they’re saying and why. I’d suggest having those conversations individually, not together, and don’t give them time to hash out things at home in advance. There may be more to the story. John may not be annoyed at all, but is because his wife is. So OP you need to examine things directly and really hold them to giving you examples and real answers.

    1. BA*

      Meant to also say that if Amy just has a few go-to stories she shares with the partners, so be it. That’s not disrespectful. My wife and I joke with one another ALL THE TIME when the other brings up one of our go-to stories to the other. It isn’t disrespectful that I’ve told her about 100 times about the time I stepped on a snake while running. It is a good story. And now she can finish it for me. :)

    2. i'm confused too*

      Yes, that line confused me too. It’s one thing if she’s repeating when there’s a mix of first-time guests & employees. But is she doing her script when there are no guests around? OR are Jenn & John expecting new anecdotes when they’re around with first-time guests?

      1. BA*

        J&J’s statement reminded me of conversations I’ve had with my kids, actually. And with my kids, they don’t have the experience to guide them where J&J do.
        “How was school today?”
        “Not great.”
        “What wasn’t great about it.”
        “I don’t know. It just wasn’t great.”

        Hard to empathize, sympathize or offer help without examples. There’s just enough lack of detail in what J&J presented to leave us hanging. They need to be more specific and OP should draw them out.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        I read that line (she has layers of stories for repeat guests – but she does repeat in front of other employees) as:

        There are five groups in any given week, a new group on each day. So Monday, Tuesday, etc. Amy is telling the same stories. Each group of customers hears the stories for the first time, but any employees who are around during the spiel hear the same stories five days in a row. The Monday group had such a great time, they decide to return the following Monday. Amy knows they are the same people, so she tells new stories to this group.

        Sounds to me like Jenn and John are expecting new anecdotes when they’re around with first-time guests.

    3. Minerva*

      I am reading this as “Amy is conscientious enough to realize that she has a repeat guest in the group and and goes into one of her other canned spiels to make sure the guest gets a moderately new experience” Like Amy has multiple “scripts” she works from, but if you work there you are going to hear them all many times.

      For a luxury venue as the OP describes this level of attention to detail is the type of thing that would get Amy rave reviews (“Five stars, we’ve been 3 times now and I feel like I learn something new on each tour!”)

      I don’t get that Amy is practicing on her co-workers at all from this letter at all. Otherwise moving them away from client facing positions wouldn’t help, and this letter is not framing the problem correctly.

  73. LCH*

    wow, are they joking? i’ve gone on a ton of tours, and some of them more than once. yeah, you’re going to hear some of the same things over again if you repeat a tour. that’s how it works. this is exactly like a stage performance. it’s like they are complaining that they were working backstage for the wizard of oz and had to hear the same damn songs every night. YES, THAT’S HOW IT WORKS.

  74. Some Guy in HR*

    This is probably neither here nor there, but did I read this right? People are paying to go on a vacation where they do farm work? I can’t even conceive of that. But hey, if the business works, it works, so kudos to LW.

    1. just another queer reader*


      To me it sounds fun and interesting – although probably out of my price range, lol.

    2. Kevin Sours*

      They don’t do farm work. They cosplay doing farm work. Getting out in the country and working with animals and picking fresh vegetables, etc is a nice change of pace if you are working in an office all day. Especially since nobody is going to ask you to spend all day shoveling manure.

      1. Jake*

        Well put.

        They aren’t in a combine harvesting 1000s of bushels of corn for days on end.

        They are doing some light gardening work, then giving the stuff they grew to a chef who turns that work into tasty food.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          It’s like when you’re a kid and you find ripe blackberries and bring them to your grandma and she makes you a cobbler.

          1. SnappinTerrapin*

            Except that the grandchildren have to pick a bushel of berries (and eat them) before gathering just enough to bring back to Grandma’s kitchen for the cobbler.

  75. animaniactoo*

    Does Jenn repeat dishes? Isn’t that rude to other employees that she doesn’t come up with a new amazing dish every day/round of customers?

    I would honestly be making the case to her in this way that she can’t ask Amy – who does her job really well – to do her job differently. Just as much as Jenn would have issues and be pissed if she were being asked to come up with a new amazing dish every single day/group. For her co-workers sake.

  76. Janeric*

    Aw, my first job was for a company that gave hot air balloon rides — the pilot stayed with the clients the whole time and supervised the flight checklists, and his gaggle of teens and young adults would lift, carry, set up brunch, and drive the car to where the balloon landed. Our pilot is a very safety-conscious and somewhat taciturn man, who ABSOLUTELY absolutely ABSOLUTELY had a script that covered both anecdotes and having a safe flight.

    Anyway, on crew day we all said EVERY ANECDOTE in exact sync with him the whole day. If half a dozen teens can limit their complaints about a client script to light razzing, so can adults with a vested interest in the success of the company.

  77. Accountress*

    I currently work at a very popular theme park. On an average day, I welcome 500 groups to our little artisan food nook up to my register with the same phrase, I ask 499 groups to wait in a specific place, and I direct 500 groups where to wait to get their food. When young children ask why we don’t have a popular American food add-on, I tell them the same story. When guests with allergies have questions, I answer but give them the same cautions on cross-contamination.

    Do the people I work with find this annoying? No, they think it’s hilarious. They quote me in random conversations in the breakroom.
    We all joke with our frequent visitors that I’m actually a robot who gets powered down after we close and is stored upstairs to recharge, because I have the same inflection every time. I’ve been stopped multiple times when I’m a guest at other areas of our resort by people who are sure they know me from somewhere, and I give my little welcome spiel, and it hits them.

    All this to say, Jenn and John need to remember that hospitality businesses succeed by giving the same quality experience to all guests. Developing scripts like hers takes time, experience, and effort. Her work making the business thrive needs to be rewarded.

    1. Nanani*

      Ok so where does the one group not waiting in the specific place with the other 499 go o.o

      1. Numbers Introvert*

        I assume the first group to arrive each day doesn’t have to wait anywhere…?

      2. Cormorannt*

        I was assuming that the first group of the day doesn’t have to wait, so while she greets 500 groups a day she only has to give the specific waiting location instructions to 499 groups.
        Also this makes me think of the early bartender bot in the Westworld TV show who has been retired to storage in the first season. He has a go-to joke that he reverts to any time he’s run out of patter, “Have you heard the one about the lady with the white shoes?”

  78. George*

    When I took the Jungle Cruise ride at Disneyland, I was convinced that the tour guide up front was giving me all new material…

    1. Gnome*

      I was about to post… I did that when I was about 8… and it was the same stuff when I was in my 30’s.

      Jenn seems to have a beef with the tour guide.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      I was absolutely about to post that they need to send John and Jenn to Disneyland and have them ride the Jungle Cruise. Then ride the Haunted Mansion. Then the Jungle Cruise. Then the Haunted Mansion. Then the Jungle Cruise.
      Then go home understanding there’s an art to telling the same damn story 300 times a day but sounds like it’s off the top of your head.

    3. Phony Genius*

      It could be new material to you. There is a list of jokes that the cruise guides use. Some are required, but they can choose others from a list. So you can ride it multiple times and hear something you haven’t heard before. (This is how it worked 10 years ago, not sure if they changed it.)

  79. Jake*

    I wonder if the business has evolved to be more experience-centric than Jenn thought it would be, and now she is trying to rein the business back into being a restaurant where she serves people food they farmed themselves.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I think J&J just fundamentally misunderstand the skills involved in the experience part, and thought that it would be the fun part after their “real work” was handled. I can see them thinking the experience element would happen naturally, like conversation at a cocktail party. All you need is interesting clientele! Uh, no. This is the whole reason people open failing b&bs; because they don’t put any work into the very skills needed to make it a hit. Because J&J realize they’re not being entertained, and in practice are excluded from the guest-focused patter, they’re behaving like Amy is socially snubbing them, rather than realising she’s simply treating them like colleagues who aren’t there to be socialised with.

  80. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

    All I can say is great executive chefs are a dime a dozen right now. This might be a position better suited to an employee than a minority-share owner with too many opinions about stuff outside the kitchen.

  81. Pisces*

    I have the opportunity to see three tribute band concerts in as many consecutive weekends. Same act, by two different bands.

    I’m committed to the first and the third, the first because I haven’t seen that group before. I have seen the other group previously, and committed to the third show when it was scheduled long ago.

    Still deciding on the second. That one was scheduled more recently, but it’s near my home and normally I’d likely go.

  82. Fabulous*

    When I first read this, I had thought that Amy way telling these stories to the coworkers over and over, no guests – that had to be the case because why would they be so incensed over it? Scripts are so flipping common (and a best practice) for sooo many professions (not just theatre) that this complaint comes so far out of left field and is absolutely off base with how customer-facing positions work. Jenn and John need a reality check, like yesterday.

  83. Frankie Bergstein*

    I’m missing the point of this letter and column, I know, but please recommend some leaders in this field! I want this to be my next vacation!

    1. Books and Cooks*

      Lol, right? One of the few letters where I’m dying to know the name of this business, because it sounds awesome and Amy sounds like an amazing “tour guide” for it.

      (OP–please take under advisement that total strangers who have no idea who any of you are IRL are wishing we could visit your business not just because, “Oh! Farm!” but because of Amy’s service and enthusiasm. That is how valuable Amy is to your business.)

    2. pancakes*

      In Italy and Spain it’s called Agrotourismo, and in France, Agritourism, and in Portugal, Agriturismo. It’s a huge industry, often supported by the local government, and you’ll find many lists of best stays in travel magazines.

  84. Kayem*

    John and Jen are being bizarre. I used to work as an interpreter in a couple national parks and part of the job is to give programs on everything from history to geology to botany. The programs are given over and over (and over and over) throughout the season and only minimally changed through the years, often including other interpreters who were assisting, auditing, shadowing, etc. The same anecdotes, the same jokes and puns, etc. Yes, sometimes the material got a bit stale, but repetition also made it a whole lot easier to come off as professionals who knew what we were doing.

  85. JustKnope*

    I think it’s important to emphasize the part of Alison’s advice where she talks about having to shift your mindset when you move from startup mode to being more established. I would make sure you’re focusing on creating processes and documentation in areas where Jenn and John work (and everyone else too!!) so that losing one person wouldn’t feel like a crisis. That’s an important part of moving out of that startup mindset where you have to keep people at all costs. Amy is invaluable now but maybe also consider recording some of her spiels so you don’t lose the magic if she gets fed up with J&J at some point.

  86. Kevin Sours*

    “she over-focuses on the clients to the detriment of her coworkers”
    In a service oriented business *this* *is* *the* *job*. Your clients pay you to be there because the experience is a lot of fun. You get paid to be there there … because it frequently isn’t.

  87. Hannah Lee*

    Jenn feels disrespected and unseen because she thinks I took Amy’s side. Did I?

    If you didn’t, you should have from the start. And you should now. Apologize to Amy. Reaffirm that feedback about her from customers is stellar and that it’s okay if she has go-to stories and ways of managing, entertaining the guests. That’s what works in these kinds of roles. Also, as an aside, it is no small thing that Amy is not only doing a great job entertaining your paying customers, she tripling down on things by also keeping them SAFE and happy while doing tasks on a farm. This stuff right here:
    “she mentors them in their ag work, ensures safety/quality control, and sees that they’re comfortable and having a good time”
    The fact that you have a skilled employee who is consistently GREAT at doing all that stuff and is happy doing it. That’s agro/ecotourism business gold my friend! Do NOT mess with that.

    So from a business perspective, asking Amy to change things up makes no sense.
    And from an interpersonal, managing employees perspective, in what world would a business owner (you) tell that stellar employee she has to change up the successful way she’s performing the core functions of her job because … her co-workers are basically bored with it? Don’t find it personally interesting or entertaining?

    Jenn and John need to take a seat on this one. They are both being unreasonable and Jenn saying she feels “disrespected and unseen” over this is ridiculous.

    After you give Amy 100% of your support, you have to sit the two of them down and put a stop to their complaints about the scripted nature of guest services. And see if you can sniff out if there is some other issue going on with this. If you’ve played into this in any way by enabling or joining into any of the interpersonal nonsense, own that and stop doing that (Though I suspect that Jenn and John may just have wound each other up, until they got a BEC view of Amy … if so, they either completely knock that off (get an attitude adjustment as my mother used to say) or they get shown the barn door)

    It may also make sense to have a partners’ meeting to clarify the point of this operation, what everybody’s roles and responsibilities are and reset expectations about work in public facing roles (your co-workers aren’t there to entertain you, people sometimes need to put aside personal preferences (like not wanting to overhear anecdotes) in order to allow a business to function and thrive)

  88. Skytext*

    My thought was that it’s like the stage manager or someone who works backstage at a Broadway show complains that the actors are saying the same lines every night!

  89. H.Regalis*

    The “this is disrespectful to your coworkers” comments from Jenn and John are just so out there. Like everyone else has said, having scripts is part and parcel to jobs like Amy’s. Have Jenn and John never worked in any client-facing job before, and never known a single other person who has? Their reaction is really bizarre. I would love to know more about how they came to the conclusion that Amy is being disrespectful to them.

    As an anecdote, this reminds me of an Uber driver I had who got angry with me because I didn’t want to engage in a conversation with him. “I have to sit in this car all day and it’s boring!” Dude, I’m paying *you*. I’m not obligated to entertain you.

  90. Foley*

    I was just thinking about this. I took an 8.5 hour tour last week and when reading the reviews, it was clear everyone loved Frank’s stories. (He drove a van AND led tours at historic sites). It was crystal clear that he told the same stories over and over (from the detailed reviews), and all I could think was, ‘Go Frank!’ for doing it every day and in his second language, no less. If I took the tour again, I’d FULLY expect to hear the same things.

    There was a second guide leading the same tour and we bumped into them from time to time. I can’t imagine the other guide was like, ‘gosh darn, there goes Frank again.’

    That’s literally Amy’s job. She has great reviews! John and Jenn need to find something else to occupy their time.

  91. dedicated1776*

    Jenn and John are weird.

    Even knowing the drama, this place sounds dope af and I wish I knew which place it is so I could go.

  92. Et*

    Hi. Amy uses a technique called the testing effect in the Cognitive Science literature (also cognitive psychology). It is a method that has been proven to increase memory capacity. She won’t know this; she’s just hit on the fact that repeating things over and over again to people helps (the control group used in science is restudy, which is what the testing effect beats hands down).

    However, the testing effect can be completed alone. I did it for years throughout my education with great success. And that is what Amy needs to do, practise alone. This isn’t some issue she has, she is perfectly fine with the tourist clients. It doesn’t matter how good Amy is with them, this should have been nipped in the bud a long time ago.

    1. Et*

      I interpreted the letter as Amy repeating the story to her colleagues over and over. Got that wrong but there’s no edit or delete button.

    2. BA*

      I’ve used this too. And I agree that this is definitely something that needs to be addressed. The only thing I’d say to perhaps soften your statement that it should have been nipped in the bud a long time ago is that the one(s) on whom she’s practicing need to be very specific in what their complaint is. They’re not providing the OP enough specificity for OP to approach Amy with constructive feedback.

      “Amy is disrespectful and annoying” is not constructive or helpful. “Amy is practicing her script with me and I’m trying very hard to focus on my tasks. I’ve asked her to stop and she won’t, which is disrespectful” is helpful. OP can then go back to Amy and help her understand the negative impact her actions are having and also find ways to help Amy do what she needs to do.

    3. Yvette*

      But nowhere does it say Amy is practicing on John and Jenn, they only hear it when they are around the guests, from the OP “My solution was to try to coach Amy into creating new dialogue (failed) and allow Jenn and John to withdraw from the client-facing aspects of their job descriptions they’d previously disliked.” There is no mention of Amy practicing in front of them. They just hear it when she is working with the guests.

    4. M. from P.*

      Huh? How do we know that Amy doesn’t know a technique she’s using? And what do you mean by nipping this in the bud? Can you explain?

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      This makes no sense. Amy is repeating anecdotes to guests. The stories are new to the guests, but her coworkers have heard them a million times because that is how this kind of thing usually works.

      I feel like you are for some reason imagining Amy standing in front of her coworkers rehearsing the same stories for hours but that does not seem at all to be what is being described in the letter.

    6. Unaccountably*

      Cognitive science literature isn’t written in Linear B. Many, many concepts from it are accessible, and available, to the public. In fact, “Repetition is the mother of memory” is a proverb alleged to date back to the Roman Empire, and most people refer to the “testing effect” you used with great success as “studying.”

      It’s very strange to assume that (a) Cognitive Science (which should not have initial caps) came up with the idea of studying by repetition, (b) Amy cannot have ever encountered Cognitive Science or any of its elements or theories before, and (c) repetition helps memory in some other way than increasing memory’s practical capacity.

  93. Blinded By the Gaslight*

    You can find a great cook anywhere, but truly gifted guest-facing performers/guides/educators who win you rave reviews for multi-day light-labor excursions are gold, my friend, GOLD.

    Genuinely apologize to Amy for getting it wrong, and tell her directly that you love what she does, that you trust her judgment in how best to perform her job, and that you want her to keep doing what she’s doing because she’s great at it and you see the results in the glowing guest reviews. I guarantee you that will go MILES to repairing your relationship with Amy and will help her regain her trust and confidence in you. She needs to know she has your full support of the incredible amount of labor she puts in guiding multiple guests through multi-day physical and learning activities, and that you’re not going to ask her to change her whole job again based on someone else’s uninformed and totally off-base complaint.

    Also, you mentioned there being some degree of safety information that Amy provides. The best way to increase risk of a guest accident on your property is to make Amy go off-script. Repetition helps Amy deliver all of the critical information to guests so they can have a great, SAFE time and follow instructions.

    Maybe tell Jenn everyone is sick of hearing “Add 1/4 cup of finely diced onions,” and that she needs to come up with a fresh, totally original way of imparting recipes to kitchen staff. Like, if she doesn’t get how ridiculous her complaint is after that, she needs to go. Kitchens run on routine, and so do many, many, many other jobs.

  94. Froggy*

    Jen and johns behaviour sounds like it’s verging on bullying to be honest. I don’t know if that’s inspired by some sort of personal or professional jealousy, but targeting a high-performing colleague repeatedly with an accusation of “you’re annoying” just seems so so off.

    1. Skytext*

      I agree it’s bullying. When you target someone for doing something perfectly normal, that isn’t in any way, shape, or form directed at you, then claim “disrespect” and “rude” just because you personally don’t like it? That’s bullying.

  95. Skytext*

    “It’s rude and disrespectful, Jenn, to serve the same meal to the guests! Even though they have never had it before, and I’m not the one eating it, I am affronted and demand you serve a brand new recipe every time!”

    Put it like that and maaaaaybe Jenn will get how ridiculous she’s being.

  96. employment lawyah*

    The best analogy is DISNEY.

    Disney is exceedingly good at customer satisfaction. They do this by acting just like Amy: Developing a successful act *and repeating it for everyone*.

    What Amy is doing is 100% correct and she should keep doing it.

  97. Mitzii*

    I’m wondering what would have happened if I told my dad I thought it was “disrespectful” of him to tell the same stories over the dinner table….. hmmm. Can’t wait for the update to this one!

  98. Tex*

    Let me guess- Jenn and John consider this a lifestyle business, seek to be authentic in their dealings with guests, and are annoyed that Amy isn’t engaging in heartfelt dialogue with guests who come for a singular experience.

    I think Jenn and John have drunk the organic koolaid. This may have started off as a hobby or dream business, but it’s a legitimate money making operation that needs to run as a tight ship. Good for Amy for figuring it all out.

  99. redflagday701*

    “…and they split the remaining 30%.”

    My guess is that this is what it’s ultimately about. Jenn and John have the idea that as CFO and executive chef, they’re more important than a head of guest services — whom they view as a mere tour guide anyway — and they’re thinking if they can push out Amy, they can hire a replacement for less and bump up their share of their slice of the pie. How’s their attitude toward Alice?

    1. starsaphire*

      Coming in super late here, but this is my question too.

      Do John and Jenn think they can increase their stake/profit when (not if) they force Alice and Amy out? Because that sure sounds like what’s happening to me.

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      Hmmm. This certainly sheds a new light on it. They may be thinking that any ol’ person can be a tour guide, especially one who reads a boring script. How hard can it be? But everyone’s not a star chef or great with numbers, and even rarer to get that in a couple.

      Little do they know that their skills are the easier ones to find for a business like this (and being a couple is unnecessary). They may think getting rid of the other minority partner would be advantageous financially, but are underestimating how much it would hurt the guest experience.

  100. Zap R.*

    If Jenn wants Amy to use new material then she needs to either sit down and write Amy some new material or shut up. Writing jokes is HARD.

  101. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    As a teacher/trainer—yes to everything said about needing a script. There are SO many reasons to do this—breaking up the delivery of dense/complicated information with a short anecdote, building rapport quickly, illustrating examples of whatever is being learned/discussed, etc. Each class got the same clever explanation or memorable anecdote. You know why? Because it worked.

    Am I supposed to forgo the great, concise way of explaining semicolon use to 3rd period just because 1st period heard it? Or not share the “we’ve all been new at one point” story that hits home with a class of new hires just because the class that started last month heard it? Jenn’s annoyance is absolutely banana-crackers.

    Please apologize to Amy; she’s been told her (very successful) way of interacting with guests is wrong and that’s completely untrue. I mean, thank goodness your conversation with her “failed” or you’d be losing business.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I’m learning a new computer program to produce safety documents. I wish that our trainer (Internet) had more of a script and less tendency to go on tangents. Yes, I understand that he is doing a number of different customers, etc. I need it in straight forward steps, so that I can easily get accurate product out. (I am currently the only one able to do the work, since finding another chemist is an uphill battle).

      Off topic complaint. In today’s session, he substituted playful terminology in showing us (me and the local IT person) how to change things. That drove me crazy, but I am comfortable with more tangible wording. I enjoy hiding materials under obscure names, such as amorphous boron-silicate for glass.

      1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

        That sounds terrible. Absolutely none of the reasons for using scripts or anecdotes include doing things that are cute and/or for your own amusement.

  102. WantonSeedStitch*

    I work in a completely different kind of business. I have a coworker with whom I pair up to do a training session for new employees so they know what kinds of work our teams do, and how we will work with that new employee in their role. 90% of these training sessions are the same even without a PowerPoint presentation. Each time we do one, he hears my habitual patter, and I hear his. Do I occasionally zone out and check my e-mail or do other work while he’s talking because I’ve heard it a zillion times before? Yup. Do my little quips and analogies probably get on his nerves occasionally, especially if he’s busy and would rather be doing something else? Almost certainly. But neither one of us would ever dream of complaining about it because just like for Amy, this is an effective way of communicating information so that things don’t get left out.

  103. AcademiaCat*

    Hrm. I’m wondering if Amy’s patter in front of Jenn and John is somehow landing as personally insulting to them? Like, is she saying something specific that they’re finding insulting, rather than just “Jenn is the kitchen mastermind who takes the produce from your hard work helping [do X, depending on season] and turn it into amazing meals. Her experience is [some credentials] and she was inspired by [some stuff]. Jenn, would you like to introduce the group to [kitchen project they’re here for]?” (then in my happy fantasy, Jenn says “Sure Amy! Hi everyone, [project] is very important for [reasons] and you’ll be doing [thing] . . .”)

    But if it’s just repetition, they need to chill and/or take a vacation. They’re not the intended audience, they’re really part of the performance, and they should know the script by now.

  104. Delphine*

    I really want to know if LW means that Amy uses a script when speaking with Jenn and John, or if the “issue” is that Jenn and John overhear the scripts she uses with guests. If it were the former, it would help explain the irritation, but also why LW even bothered to take the complaint seriously in the first place. If they were complaining that Amy was using a script with guests…that is just bananas.

  105. Hoopa*

    I feel like Jenn would hate my job. The number of times people talk about the weather?! Every day, sunny, rainy, hot or cold… part of talking to people though.

  106. MAOM7*

    Oh. My.

    Jenn (and John) need to pull up their big girl/boy pants and stop being children. I run a small craft business, selling handmade items. One of my BIGGEST sellers is my biggest seller because of my sales patter. Is it boring to my business partner who is sitting on the other side of the booth? YES, it is. Do I still sell these things by the dozen? YES. Amy is doing her job and doing it well and Jenn (and John) may need to leave the business and do their own thing. You’ll find another culinary genius, I’m sure, that could replace them. I do think, honestly, that this is about jealousy, or perhaps something else, as they are attacking Amy. Have they had a dustup of some sort? Is Jenn jealous of how customers react to Amy’s sales patter? Jenn (and John) need to sort this out, and decide if they want to stay. As majority owner, and the person who ultimately makes the decisions (and takes the risk), you have to decide if the drama is worth keeping Jenn (and John).

  107. Risha*

    I’m wondering why LW even entertained Jenn/John’s complaints in the first place. If it is Amy’s job to tell stories to and entertain guests, I don’t understand why you spoke to Amy about ridiculous complaints. She isn’t there to entertain the staff, and if Jenn doesn’t like it, no one is forcing her to stay and listen to Amy. Or perhaps Jenn can assist in writing a daily script for Amy to use that would please Jenn enough. I’m not trying to be harsh on you OP, but I’ve been in Amy’s spot where a manager spoke to me about some nonsense complaints instead of telling the complainer to knock it off (the complainer said I don’t smile genuinely enough at them in the morning).

    I think you need to apologize to Amy right away for the way you mishandled the situation. Honestly, if Amy was my friend, I would tell her to consider finding a job where the supervisor will back her up against petty complaints from (most likely) jealous staff. Then you should go back to Jenn/John/whoever else has an issue and lay it out for them. Let them know very clearly that Amy is not there to entertain them and you do not want to hear anything about how disrespected Jenn feels over Amy doing her job. If there’s a valid concern, of course Jenn should let you know, but make it crystal clear that you’re not dealing with pettiness and nonsense anymore. Jenn can simply walk away whenever Amy is dealing with any guests.

  108. Mark Roth*

    As a teacher I use the fact that you’ll get the same jokes next year as a selling point if you can’t find any other reason to pass my course.

    Is this not how the real world works too?

  109. SwampWitch*

    I worked hospitality for years and you have to have a mental script to guide guests. If I just rattled off: Your cabin is to the left past the main pool, the dining room isn’t open on Sunday afternoons, shuttles leave for town between noon and 4 pm, the ski shop doesn’t take Visa but we have an ATM on site, they looked at me with a glazed over expression and then got flustered because it was a lot to retain at once. Jen and John sound privileged and entitled. I grew up in the country outside of NYC and people who left “successful city careers” to start country businesses felt they could talk down to everyone. I’d check and see how Jen and John treat your local employees, because that’s unacceptable in my opinion.

    1. Observer*

      That’s a really good point. And not just the employees, but any local vendors and businesses.

  110. Canadian Librarian #72*

    How ridiculous. Amy basically is a tour guide! Obviously she’ll be repetitious. She’s doing nothing wrong; it’s her coworkers whose expectations are at odds with reality.

  111. ILoveLlamas*

    I’ve scrolled through the comments and there are some great insights. I agree that Amy using a script is a good idea. I think J&J complaining about Amy is the surface of a bigger problem. Some folks asked if Amy was doing a kitchen tour — good point. Maybe that is where Jenn is getting rubbed the wrong way. Maybe Jenn is jealous or maybe there is more to the issue than we are aware of. Is Amy getting tips and perhaps others think they should be a part of it? Just a random thought…..

    Have you considered getting a mystery shopper to come through and experience your place from start to finish? Maybe an experienced mystery shopper in the tourism world could offer some insights. I am partial to the mystery shopper idea for many reasons, not just this current situation. It might shed some light on other areas that could perhaps warrant a closer look. The mystery shopper could be a mentor, someone else in tourism — doesn’t have to an “official” shopper.

    I do think this situation can be a good learning experience for you in managing your people. Alison has some great posts about management, so I would suggest taking a look at some of them. As other readers commented, I agree that we all need to be cautious when we have a squeaky wheel and make sure to get all the facts before determining a course of action. Good luck and please give us an update!

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Oh, man — I wish Alison could be the mystery shopper and that the OP would agree to let her divulge her findings to us, the readers (with proper anonymization of her business). That would be the best update ever.

      1. Calamity Janine*

        especially because there’s a high chance of all this being augmented by baby goat pictures…

        or baby chicken pictures. or baby cow pictures. or baby sheep pictures. or baby vegetable plant pictures.

        …i ain’t picky.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        That would be AWESOME. And the whole idea of a “mystery shopper” sounds good.

  112. yala*

    Clearly John and Jenn never worked retail and got to experience the joy of the same twelve Christmas songs on loop for two months.

    But also, like…disrespectful? HOW? Even if there weren’t a script for guests involved, it would seem so incredibly self-involved to have someone repeat a story and assume it was out of some kind of disrespect, rather than just, y’know. Memory issues? My friends and I tell each other the same stories all the time. So does my Dad. My brother hates it, but just because he finds it boring, not disrespectful.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I do it because I have a GOOD memory and nobody else seems to remember the stuff I do, so I have no idea how much other people remember and end up telling them stuff I’ve told them before. I know I’ve told them before; I’m just not sure whether my remembering telling them before means they will remember hearing it as so often I’ve mentioned “remember such a conversation” and gotten blank looks and “when did that happen?” *thinks” “Maybe 3 or 4 years ago.” “How do you expect us to remember THAT?”

      I’m sure I overcompensate and tell people stuff I told them recently enough that they DO remember and I’m sure people find it annoying, but…I’m certainly not trying to disrespect anybody. Maybe you could say I’m underestimating their memory skills, but…

  113. Former Retail Lifer*

    This is going to be an issue in every customer-facing job. There’s always a script or a comfortable anecdote or a joke that always gets a laugh that gets repeated when you’re dealing with customers/clients all day. Jenn and John should not be in customer-adjacent fields if this is a problem for them. It’s such an odd thing to complain about that I’d think they have an issue with Amy herself, not this very normal thing she’s doing.

  114. GarlicMicrowaver*

    What the… ? Frankly, I don’t see why there ever was a problem to begin with. Seems like there are more deep-seeded personal issued between the staff.

  115. Just Me*

    Yeah Jenn and John aren’t being realistic. I used to be a tour guide and basically said the same thing over and over and over and over and over again. Did it annoy my colleagues who heard me every day? Sure. But that wasn’t my problem. My job was to lead an effective tour. If what Amy is doing is allowing her to do the job effectively and makes the company money, then why on earth does it matter?

  116. The Cosmic Avenger*

    Just another commenter agreeing that I made up scripts in my head when repeating the same information day in and day out. I answered telephones and later supervised the phone staff, and we had “recommended language” for a lot of issues and questions. I encouraged staff to learn them, then riff on them as they saw fit once they mastered the information, and if they came up with a phrasing that seemed clearer or easier to say and/or understand, we would update the recommended answer, of course! I’m sure Amy is adapting her stories, or shifting when she tells them or which ones she tells, based on her feel for the guests, and I’m sure she has a much better feel for that than the other partners, since she has the most guest interaction. But if they are working for her, she usually won’t need to change a word.

    tl;dr version: Amy is doing exactly what I have done and trained others to do in customer-facing roles, and John and Jenn are being….ridiculous, to put it kindly.

  117. Roxana*

    Do they not realize that her repetitive stories make sure that they all have a paycheck at the end of the day?

  118. Phil*

    I used to teach in professional setting and I had several shticks about several subjects.

    1. pancakes*

      It was a huge help for me when I realized that most of my contracts law prof’s schticks came from Corbin on Contracts. He assigned it as supplemental reading, which initially seemed like a warped joke considering how much assigned reading there was, but I did eventually get around to having a look, and it pretty much superseded all the other reading.

  119. Forty Years In the Hole*

    I wonder if the other 20 employees consider Amy’s (by now) well-honed patter “rude & disrespectful.” I assume that guests are shown/interact with all aspects of the farm, incl the staff who are responsible for: coaching the planting, harvesting, animal husbandry (squee!…baby goats!?), preserving or marketing harvest, equipment management, etc.
    That means a pit stop at each station…and likely the same intro-spiel…each & every visit, so as to fully engage the guest. A chef can deke into the kitchen. A CFO can (may be should?) hide in the office. An agro worker has no way to avoid and will need to engage – that’s their job. And I’d bet a slow-roasted lambsbank that every one of the “hands” has developed their own routine. Totally saw this when I visited a number of Dutch tulip farms; virtually all of them had a similar “story.” Didn’t make it any less fascinating.

  120. MuseumChick*

    Late to the party but as someone who used to give tours that could last over an hour. Sticking to a script is critical, and non-negotiable, and I would absolutely quit a job like that if I was told to stop. In other words, Amy is right and as the person in charge, you need to have her back on this 100%.

  121. Ellis Bell*

    So everyone is needed, and this is everyone’s dream? Ok….. I feel like this set up has blurred the following boundaries: 1) the boundary between work expectations and social/fun expectations, 2) the boundary between friends and colleagues, 3) the boundary between being the boss and being a friend. OP, I feel like the only possible way you will all remain friends is to be a strong leader who is okay with the possibility of not remaining friends. It might be possible for J&J to get with the program about customers needing customer service if you present it as a golden rule, and behave like a boss here. If it’s laid out in no uncertain terms that customers trump a need for varied chit chat during the day, they may see that it’s a business case, not favouritism and stop dicking around trying to be the most popular kids in your eyes. It may not work, but it could and if it doesn’t then they don’t understand customer service and they should leave the business anyway. What definitely will not work is tip toeing around hurt feelings and ridiculous requests to be entertained by a colleague. All that has gotten you is yet more pouting and socially entitled feelings from the socially entitled couple, while the more professional colleague was given anxiety and nearly derailed from doing what works.

  122. It Doesn't Have To Be This Way*

    Jenn & John are ridiculously petty & ridiculously ridiculous.

    I never heard anything so ridiculous. Do they think tour guides make up new lines every time they lead a new group? That retail cashiers find new words & cadences every time they ring someone up? That actors in a play deliver different lines in different ways every performance?

    Amy is a performer. And it sounds like she’s performing flawlessly.

    Probably the same way Jenn repeats recipes that work??

    This is so bizarre & precious I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around their problem, but it is definitely THEIR problem.

    Is this a microcosm of the way Jenn & John are in other situations? e.g. Blowing minor annoyances up into bigger issues? Prioritizing their personal preferences & inclinations? Turning them into issues of ‘respect’ or ‘rights’?

    Or is there perhaps something else going on under the surface in these relationships? As in, are they bothered by *other* things in the business, or things with Amy/Alice, and this is simply the portal it’s coming out through?

    Agree with Alison on every point, including what to do now with the ridiculously ridiculous Jenn & John.

  123. anon4eva*

    “A consummate professional, she’d never repeat a story to a guest – she has layers of stories for repeat guests – but she does repeat in front of other employees. Jenn finds this grating, disrespectful and rude, as does John.”

    What exactly do they find disrespectful and rude about it?
    I guess repetitive stories could be *grating* if a CFO and a Chef have decided they wanted to be included as part of a guest audience on some infinite tour of their own work place.
    Why is is only the *stories* annoying these employees? What about guests repeating the same questions, being shown the same things, or doing the same activities over and over? And, like doesn’t the Chef repeat the same food over and over? Wouldn’t that get old first?

    I like Alison’s script, but I would’ve told the Chef to stay in the kitchen and the CFO to stay in their office.

  124. Bern Notice*

    John and Jenn complaining about Amy using the same stories/anecdotes over and over for each tour group is kinda like someone who operates the It’s A Small World ride at Disney complaining about that (god-awful) song playing over and over. It’s really ridiculous!
    It sounds as if Amy is the most important client-facing member of their partnership – and she should be treated as such. She gets stellar reviews and that alone is probably bringing in tons of new business for them. OP needs to sit down w/John and Jenn, pull rank on them as 70% owner, and tell them to stop this nonsense immediately as it’s impacting the business that they’re all working so hard on together. I mean, what is WRONG w/these two?

    1. Dawn*

      To be fair, if that were my job, I would ABSOLUTELY complain about that effing song to anyone who would listen.

      1. SwiftSunrise*

        As would I, but I’d never complain to my manager and expect the ride to switch over to “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts” on my say-so.

  125. Just Me.*

    Ah yes, the chef who can’t grasp the concept of how the successful use of the same ingredients can make a quality meal every time. What does Jen think Amy is doing? Metaphorically Amy is using the same ingredients to make a quality meal every time.

  126. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    How long has it been since any of the 5 of you took a proper vacation, or even a break? I ask because this is a pretty small business and it might be difficult to get time away to recharge under the current set-up. Especially when a vacation may mean that two of the five core people are away at the same time. Previous commenters have mentioned the need for a succession plan, which is a great idea in general, but also makes it more straightforward to cover when key people are away.

    I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t take time off on a quasi-regular basis, I get burned out, crabby AF and very much am not my best self. Things that would be minor annoyances really get on my nerves during this time. This obviously does not justify me being a jerk to anyone because I’m crabby. (Every so often, I will repeat “don’t be an asshole” to myself for 30 seconds as a reminder not to take out my crabbiness on others).

    So if it’s been a while since y’all have each had some time off, ensuring that everyone has the chance to relax and recharge might really help the situation and give people a better chance to have a productive discussion about what’s going on.

  127. Let's Bagel*

    Well I have to say I’m utterly disappointed. I came here for the Schrute Farms comments — 500+ and not a single one?!

    My advice to you is to fire Jenn and hire Mose instead. Also, make sure that one of your rooms is themed as Irrigation. And do you have enough manure?

    1. Books and Cooks*

      It was the first thing I thought of, too, and I too was disappointed. I thought for sure someone would ask about the LW’s table-making demonstrations, or if perhaps Jenn was upset that Amy spotted her in the outhouse with the door that kept blowing open.

  128. Startup fan*

    A number of years ago, I had the opportunity hear Al Gore speak twice within the space of six months.
    He told the same (corny) jokes at both occasions. It’s called a stump speech. That’s what Amy is giving, and it’s a hit with your guests. Dare I remind OP that the purpose of her business is to make her guests happy?
    Tell Amy to keep doing what she’s been doing, and for the other co-founders to get with the program or take a hike.

    1. Despachito*

      I once saw two footages of Penn and Teller’s famous nail gun performance – these were two different opportunities, yet Penn said the exactly same thing to the extent that the video actually mingled some parts into one, and it sounded almost like an unison.

      I imagine someone complaining about that.

    2. Kayem*

      John and Jen are going to be very surprised if they go see their favorite artist in concert more than once.

  129. ZK*

    Amy has a recipe for success to follow with her script, just like Jenn has a recipe to follow in her kitchen. Jenn and John are being ridiculous.

    1. AnotherSarah*

      This is a very good point! Jenn probably knows what’s a crowd-pleaser, and puts those items on the menu with some frequency!

  130. SpaceySteph*

    Did you know every time you ride Disney’s Jungle Cruise they tell the same joke about the backside of water? How dare!

    Seriously, Amy is basically a tour guide and she has her shtick. It’s great she’s able to remember repeat guests and switch it up for them, honestly that’s above and beyond what I would expect out of “experience tourism.” John and Jenn are being ridiculous.

  131. Not So NewReader*

    I have similar situations come up at work regularly. I have developed go-to scripts for the situation. Then I just monitor my tone of voice so I do not sound like I am on autopilot.

    One day a man called. He had X situation, which people frequently have in my arena.
    I explained, “okay we can do a, b and c then that will take care of things.”
    He blurted out, “You have to say this a lot don’t you?”
    I said it was my job.
    He offered his condolences.
    We laughed.

    Telling people the same thing each time is known as being factual and fair. Amy can’t talk about pink petunias if the petunias are purple. She has to stick with the facts. Amy can’t leave out whole chunks of her tour just because it’s repetitive, it’s not to the guests who are there.

    John and Jenn sound like they don’t understand what the business is.

  132. Not So NewReader*

    One more thought. It’s not clear to me if Amy is practicing on them when no guests are around. I assumed she was talking to guests when these two got “offended”.

    If she is practicing on them privately away from guests. why can’t they just tell her to stop? I don’t get it. Why do they have to go running to OP, who stole their power? No matter how I look at this one I don’t see adult behavior coming out of Jenn and John. I thought they had experience in the work world. hmm.

  133. Dawn*

    You know, I’m just really BORED hearing Mary repeat the same lines in her role as Juliet every night. Just because we’re performing Romeo & Juliet doesn’t mean that having to hear the same lines over and over again isn’t disrespectful to ME.

    I think she should change it up and do some gangsta rap lyrics to keep me entertained. I’m sure the theatre patrons won’t mind an unexpected and unexplained 16th-century rendition of F The Police.

    1. Dawn*

      And sure, I know I’m being deliberately ridiculous here but straight up, when you are doing a job in a specific industry and setting, there are ONLY SO MANY GOOD STORIES TO TELL and you aren’t just telling them off the cuff either, you take the best ones and you edit and refine and tweak them until they’re the kind of story you CAN get a good reception on every time.

      Amy is actually going WAY above and beyond her job already, perfecting an entire patter routine AND having enough material in her back pocket to switch it up for previous guests. That’s a full-time job all on its own and she could clearly take that skill-set to all kinds of settings and be wildly succesful!

      Don’t bring this up with Amy. Ever again. Don’t drive her away. Good chefs are all well and good but they’re not exactly uncommon. Good CFOs are all well and good but they’re hardly unreplaceable. Aside from being completely in the wrong, Jenn and John are EXPENDABLE in a way that Amy is emphatically not. You can hire a new chef and accountant much easier than you can find someone as brilliant at her job as Amy, if you can do it at all.

      1. Dawn*

        And honestly, now that I come to type it out, I wonder if that isn’t in play to some extent; have John and Jenn REALIZED that they just aren’t as vital and indispensable to your business’ success as Amy is, and are they acting out of jealousy, or to (in their eyes) bring her contributions down a few notches?

      2. Despachito*

        This is what I am thinking too – it would be much more difficult to replace Amy than to replace J and J.

        (Not that it should mean that if it was the other way round the “more valuable” (for the business) person should be allowed to bully the “less valuable” ones, but in the given situation it makes things easier that the bullies are more expendable)

  134. Austen girl*

    Buy J&J out and hire a chef-keep Amy, she’s the bread and butter of your venture.

  135. raincoaster*

    Jenn presumably makes the same dishes night after night, and Amy hasn’t complained. Jenn needs more roughage in her diet.

  136. Books and Cooks*

    LW, run–do not walk–to Amy, and apologize. Tell her that she is wonderful at her job, that she is a huge reason why the business is as successful as it is, and that you are very sorry that you were so focused on making peace that you didn’t stop to think about her feelings. Ask her if J&J have been making any other comments to her, or if there have been any other issues with them that you need to know about. And if there have been, apologize for those, and deal with them immediately.

    For J&J, Alison’s speech is (of course) excellent. If you like, then aside from the “You don’t cook what Amy wants every night, so why do you expect Amy to focus on your tastes?” point that has been made a few times (more nicely worded, of course), you could ask them if it might help them to think of it like a tour guide’s speech, or as the reason they have a successful business in the first place–like instead of hearing The Same Story They Heard Yesterday, they can train themselves to hear a little ka-ching! as more money is added to the coffers. That is only if you feel like it, and if the conversation is going well, though, because their problem is *their* problem, and they need to get over it. They might be partners in the business, but it is not *their* business, and ultimately, they should be incredibly grateful that Amy hasn’t told them to eff straight off and quit, taking her incredible skills and reputation to a competing business/farm.

    I wonder if maybe sending J&J to some sort of business seminar or something might be helpful? Like, something to remind them that the customer is the most important thing, and that making the customer happy should be much higher on the priorities list than amusing one’s coworkers? Something to remind them that in the real world, there’s no such thing as “focusing on customers to the detriment of co-workers’ fun times?” Which would have the added benefit of giving them a little break, which another commenter suggested and I also think is a good idea. Maybe if they go BE customers somewhere for a few days, they will be reminded that their experience as a customer is what matters most?

    It’s hard to think of suggesting getting to the bottom of J&J’s grievances here, because one hates to even seem to consider their complaint as legitimate. But it might be worth finding out if this gripe of theirs is actually just a sort of totem, and what’s really bothering them is XYZ. Maybe there is a way to make them happy without actually dignifying their nonsense or making poor Amy hear another word about it, but without turning them into a couple of disgruntled grumps, either. (Yes, their behavior is on them, and they are far more easily replaceable than you probably think, but still.) Maybe the tour doesn’t need to come into the kitchen every time Jenn is there, but a sous chef or someone can be present. Maybe Jenn doesn’t need to stand behind an open counter while Amy gives her speech in the dining room, but she can take a break at that time. Something like that.

    None of that last paragraph is or should be necessary, of course. Jenn’s complaint is so alien to a complaint any business owner should be making that I am honestly tempted to say, “Just offer to buy them out, and do it. Get a new CFO and chef, because these people are ridiculous and unprofessional enough that I personally wouldn’t want them involved in my business anymore.” My gut is telling me this isn’t the only way these two have been unprofessional and/or damaging to your business, either–I could be wrong, but it’s just a feeling I have. Either way, just in case you want to really try to salvage the relationship, you could ask about that, and see if compromises of some sort can be made–but ONLY compromises that involve Jenn not hearing Amy or Jenn wearing headphones or whatever! Amy makes NO compromises and is not asked to change a thing, is not made to feel like she’s done anything wrong, is treated like the stellar asset she is, period.

    J&J are bullies. Do you really want or need to work with, and be business partners with, bullies? Bullies who are so selfish and unprofessional that they complain about the thing that makes the business successful?

    I wish you the best of luck, and I really, really hope you keep us updated (and really wish you were joining in the comments–please, even if you think it’s “too late” to chime in, do so. It’s not too late! Lots of people subscribe to comments or check back).

    1. Despachito*

      I, too, would really like to know what the REAL problem is, as JandJ’s complaints sounds so nonsensical. And the wording as “disrespectful” makes it even more intriguing.

      When I was reading it, I had a flashback of a somehow similar situation, albeit it was not in a work setting. I had a friend who used to be a teacher, and (I assume) had her repetitive spiel for her students. But the “technique” of repeating the same jokes spilled over to her non-work life, and yes, it was annoying as hell.
      But I noticed that the degree in which I found it annoying was directly proportionate to other problems I started having with her (which had a touch of feeling she was disrespecting me as well) , and all these combined ended up almost in a BEC situation.

      So in my case , the repetitiveness was far from being THE problem, it was just its most visible and nameable sign. I bet this is something similar in Amy’s case, and I would be very much interested what this is.

      (I still think J and J are in the wrong, and I wonder whether the relationship can be saved irrespective of what the true cause is)

  137. Coin_Operated*

    WFT? As Alison pointed out, this is like, LITERALLY Amy’s job. I can’t help but think this is personal, especially if it’s coming from Jenn (I don’t want to stereytype or generalize, but I’ve worked with enough “chefs” to know that there’s tons of egos in the industry, and is Jenn just pissed that Amy is getting all the attention simply because her role is to interact with guests and that’s what they rave about? Is she upset that, that Amy might be outshining her food? (in her mind).

  138. Observer*

    LW, look at the letter from the small business owner whose employee complained about another employee, so the owner took the complaint to the other employee. It was similar level of ridiculousness – and it blew up the business.

    Put a stop to this now.

  139. Lady Pomona*

    Museum teacher here: Alison is 100% right; Amy is using a tried-and-true teaching approach that ensures that she covers all the bases with visitors and that enables her to organize her presentation so that she remembers everything that she wants the visitors to hear. She is there to make sure that all your guests have an enjoyable, informative experience and it sounds as if she is doing that beautifully. She is NOT there to entertain Jenn, John or anyone else on your staff – and Jenn, John and everyone else on your staff need to learn that ASAP.

    LW, please go to the AAM “Search” box and search for “Laura and Miranda”. You’ll get an eye-opening, jaw-dropping account of what happened when a manager allowed her best employee to be pushed out the door by a conniving colleague who’d ingratiated herself with the LW / manager. (Spoiler alert: Suffice it to say that that LW lost both her business and the “friendship” she’d thought she’d had with the conniver.)

    Alison is absolutely right: you cannot become so dependent on ANY employee that you become convinced that you can’t do without them OR that you let them dictate how you manage any other employee. And that goes for Jenn and John, too! Remember, life happens; a family emergency, a freak accident, a change in life goals could take any of your employees away from your company at any time. Please heed Alison’s advice and rethink your attitude towards your employees; yes, you value them, but no, they really aren’t your family. THEY know that – and you should too!

  140. Calamity Janine*

    i will admit i very much hope we get an update on this one. this smells like A Fight That Isn’t About What People Are Saying It’s About, and i am absolutely nosy enough to want to know what it was really about at all.

    if i had to wildly guess, the grumpiness may be coming from discomfort at the role. being head chef in your own kitchen where no customer dares to tread is very different from being a chef in a kitchen where public filters through on tours. the way that this is being expressed is bananas, but i can see how someone struggling to articulate other problems would land on this complaint. mainly because it makes it someone else’s problem. the actual issue, giving the best benefit of the doubt and a good stretching session before i do all this reaching, may be more like “having to be a performer for tours is stressful and draining in a way i didn’t anticipate. i always feel like my kitchen isn’t really under my control and that i have to be ready to be interrupted so much that i feel like i can’t start something without having to stop halfway thru so it becomes much more stressful work. instead of being fed orders i expect, i end up feeling like i have to be the tour guide’s stage partner. i can manage a kitchen as head chef, but that’s with me at the helm. that’s what i expect and that’s what i built my career around. now i don’t have the control i aimed for as the pinnacle of my career… and i can’t even cuss in the kitchen without being nervous a guest will overhear, ugh! this is leaving me drained and dissatisfied. but if i admit that i am the one struggling, then it’s my fault, and it calls into question all the life plans my partner and i made, and… anyway what if i just blame the person who is there being ‘on stage’? that’ll make me feel better. AND i don’t have to face down this being my fault and all the scary things that flow from that!”

    or something completely different. “actually i wanted to be retired now instead of working but this is where we sunk all our money…” “i hate living in a more rural area honestly. once upon a time i didn’t know what so much manure smelled like, and those were truly halcyon days” “i think my partner and i are heading towards a break-up and if things are going to blow up, if i am the one making it go kaboom, i can feel like i am in control of the situation” “interacting with the public directly is making me customerphobic and nobody can tell me i am truly wrong for that” “i was abducted by aliens and they told me self-sabotage was the only way to achieve my dreams of running away to the circus, and also they said Amy’s full of thetans”… whatever.

    but the repeating scripts in the nature of the job is an easy little irritation to hang all of the other more complicated foibles, anxieties, and concerns on.

    now a vast majority of this is quite simply not something a business partnership can really help with, or should be expected to help with. but for the sake of friendship, it might be worth a conversation of “level with me – what is this REALLY about?”

    …but odds are good the real core issue won’t be revealed until they stop picking at an unrelated scab just to have something to pick at.

    in conclusion i would like to applaud Alison’s professionalism for not absolutely filling this letter with a bumper crop of puns about how the complainers will reap what they sow, they should stop having a cow and milking this for all it’s worth but instead try to not carrot all about hearing the script repeated (it may be corny, but they can squash the impulse if they try), etc etc…

    1. CM*

      Same here, I would love an update because otherwise this makes absolutely no sense. Rude and disrespectful for having a script to tell guests, who love the script and Amy? Even if the issue was that Amy was a bore, constantly repeating her own stories in a social setting, that still isn’t rude and disrespectful.

      I see a little clue here: “…allow Jenn and John to withdraw from the client-facing aspects of their job descriptions they’d previously disliked…”
      Maybe Jenn and John just hate dealing with the public, and hearing Amy’s patter is part of the public-facing part of the job so they hate that too. In which case, they may be in the wrong business.

  141. Canterlot*

    Good for the LW, and I’m not exactly mad about their successful business – but paying someone else for the privilege of doing farm work kinda blows my mind. I used to do seasonal farm work from April – October for sub-minimum wage and damaged produce. It’s really hard, grueling, dangerous work in all kinds of weather. I messed up a shoulder one year and gave myself a bad concussion another.

    I wonder what kind of farm work they let people do? Milk a goat and pick an apple, maybe? It feels kind of Hunger Games District One, I’ve got to say.

    My mind was just as blown the first time I saw people doing kettle-bell carries at the gym. I was thinking – Someone’s paying a gym $60 for this. These guys could carry buckets of bush beans and actually make money doing it.

    1. Drifter*

      I’m a farmer and occasionally do farm tours. Farming and farm tours are as similar as building a house is to Lego. Think of it as the customers are playing in a giant sand pit. They want to play on tractor, have a go loading feed into a bin, plough one row in a paddock. Feed the lambs, calves and kids, milk the cow, feed some hay, pick a bushel of apples, dig up a few potatoes etc. the point is they want to ‘have a go’ at multiple farming things not actually farm. It would be way quicker without them:)
      And yes people pay a lot to do this because it’s nostalgic entertainment.

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely. In England there’s a theme park called Diggerland which uses essentially plant vehicles to mimic construction, rides include digging with a JCB, stacking tyres, racing mini tractors etc. My mother had the best birthday there. People love it because it’s fun pretending to drive a JCB. That doesn’t usually translate into a desire to work in construction, any more than playing at farming translates into a desire to work in agriculture.

        A lot of things are fun for a day but not so much fun when you have to do them every day for minimum wage and in all weathers. Also I don’t entirely think it’s bad for people to learn what farming entails, they might appreciate farmers a bit more if they do.

        1. CM*

          Agreed — as somebody who works behind a desk, doing even basic farming tasks on a voluntary basis can be tiring and difficult, and it definitely gives me an appreciation for farmers and their hard work! (As for the kettlebell — if nobody is paying you, you can put it down whenever you want, and well before you get an injury.)

    2. Unaccountably*

      Your last point is very relevant here, in that you don’t seem to be considering the fact that not everything is about making money, or that doing loaded carries at the gym for ten minutes is useful exercise and carrying buckets of bush beans all day every day is back-breaking labor – or, for that matter, that the ten minutes’ pay gained by swapping out paid bush-bean carrying for unpaid kettlebell carries isn’t going to make a difference in the financial status of anyone who has a job that allows them to afford a gym membership to begin with.

      It wouldn’t surprise me at all if J&J were overlooking the same concepts. With the money they used to buy into the business, they probably could have bought a small country house with a vegetable garden and a barn they could rent out for weddings when they felt like it, but maybe Must Run Full-Time Business was the default in their heads. Now they’re there and they clearly don’t like it, maybe because it turns out that ten minutes of exercise is not, in fact, anything like full-time physical day labor and occasional cooking for appreciative audiences is not like having guests trooping through your kitchen and touching things they shouldn’t. They’re just taking it out on Amy, who does seem to enjoy it.

  142. Tiger Snake*

    “Amy asked me directly if it was Jenn who complained”

    Oh-ho. This sounds like a case of Jenn has tried to tell Amy to stop, Amy explained why its necessary, and then Jenn ran to the teacher because she didn’t get her way.

    1. Drifter*

      ” but they still maintain that she over-focuses on the clients to the detriment of her coworkers”
      I’m only guessing but I reckon it went down like repeated versions of this:
      Customers are picking apples and reminiscing about Grandma’s apple pie. They ask Amy who replies ‘let ask our marvellous chef Jenn’ who answers ‘no I’m making this Devine apple meringue sponge with raspberry sauce reduction, you guys are going to love it’. Tour carries on. Jenn gets angry later with Amy telling her she’s told her for the last couple of weeks she doesn’t make pie and never wants to hear the question again! Amy is confused because to her it’s part of the patter and is talking up Jenn’s culinary ability. Jenn takes it as a direct insult to be repeatedly asked about pie when she doesn’t make pie and Amy should just tell the customers already!

  143. Summer*

    “but they still maintain that she over-focuses on the clients to the detriment of her coworkers”

    This has got to be the strangest line of the entire letter. OP, do J&J not realize that without the customers there would be no business? Amy is doing a terrific job by all accounts and the other two are feeling annoyed and disrespected because of that? You did blow it by not shutting down the cattiness and ridiculousness coming from J&J right away. Also, because Amy guessed at who complained, I have to imagine other stuff is going on with them that you might not be privy to but you need to get a handle on it before your booming business goes bust.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      Right? In a customer service business that makes all its money by keeping customers happy, there is no such thing as “… over-focuses on the clients to the detriment of her coworkers…”

      The two complainers seriously have their priorities out of whack. They need a wake-up call and a reality check.

  144. HappytobeWorkerBee*

    Worked in a bank as a teller for some years some years back. Went to many, many trainings on what to do if you were robbed. Could have actually taught that training after all those sessions, it was so ingrained on my brain. Never was robbed there, however, I was robbed at a retail establishment that I closed one night alone. After figuring out the robber was there only to rob, rather than harm, all that training kicked right in. I felt confident and able to handle the situation, albeit scared. The whole thing was over fast-robbery and robber caught within 45 minutes. I have always been incredibly grateful for those trainers and their endless repetition.

  145. UserEx*

    So, there are some personality conflicts and annoyances appearing in your semi-
    -utopian, intentionally planned, and magically somehow profitable cooperative community that governs itself with consensus process?

    Whooda Thunk?

    Realistically, it sounds to me like all of these folks are real, real involved with each other. Y’all might need to have a significant, direct conversation about workplace & community expectations, and how to address interpersonal friction without letting it alienate anyone or undermine the work and business you’re trying to build. These small moments of drama can turn very toxic very quickly.

    Are people getting enough breaks from each other? That might be a crucial place to start.

    1. CM*

      This is a great point, and above somebody suggested mediation or coaching. There are definitely some intense and unproductive group dynamics happening here. An outside facilitator or coach could help them acknowledge those dynamics and figure out how to change them. If not for the whole group, I think OP could use coaching on how to handle conflict and group dynamics. Letting someone’s complaints get to the point where your star employee is unhappy and uncomfortable is not good for business.

  146. Up and Away*

    I feel like there might be more at play here, as in some other deep seated resentment that John and Jenn are not verbalizing, but rather blaming it on the surface “issue” of Amy’s repetition, which obviously is a key part of her job.

  147. V. Anon*

    A day late, but fascinated by this, AND: a few people have flagged that Amy immediately knew the complaint was coming from Jenn. I really don’t think there’s a business complaint here at all; I think this is 100% interpersonal stuff masquerading as work stuff. You were all friends, and now you are all coworkers. It’s going to break. It is already breaking. The question now is: does the whole business go down in flames along with two marriages and the friendships, too? Or do the friendships break but the business (and probably the marriages) survive? I don’t think you get the business/marriage/friendship trifecta anymore. It’s breaking. I’m really sorry, because it sounds like it was, at one point, IDEAL.

  148. Raida*

    The people that are annoyed hearing the customers getting good service – totally understandable.

    I worked at KFC for years as a teen and into my early 20’s and the cooks *hated* when I was there.
    Not because I was bad at my job or gave them any grief – because I sounded like a robot.
    “Hi this is Raida just place your order when you’re ready!” in the exact. same. perky. tone. every. single. time. for. six. hours. straight. I was always put on drive-thru, I got positive feedback from customers (very rare), we had customers change what day of the week their bought KFC to come through when I’d be in drive-thru.

    Those staff can’t relocate and just had to suck it up, and they never ever thought to complain. That’s right, teenagers at their first jobs were more professional that these co-owners.

    The co-owners are focussed on how they think they are important and they should be treated – instead of what is best for the customers and the business. They can move away from the customers and have some nice music playing in their area, the *asset* interacting with customers can continue bringing in the 5 star reviews.

    This is not managing staff. This is owners coming to a conclusion on what is important – the business’ success or forcing staff to talk differently around them.

  149. Curmudgeon in California*

    My spouse repeats stories. Heck, I repeat stories and data if I’m not sure who I’ve told things to.

    My roommate hates it when anyone tells her the same thing twice. Then she complains that we didn’t tell her things that we know we’ve told her, but tried not to tell her twice or more. We aren’t allowed to have memory issues and stuff, but she is. We’re all over 60, and both my spouse and I have had head injuries that have messed with out memory. It is one of the major sources of tension in our household – because Ms Doesn’t Want Repeats insists that everything be her way.

    I think the two complainers need to build a bridge and get over it, because Amy’s repeating stories keeps them in memory for use with clients. Maybe Amy can present them with earplugs.

  150. Em*

    Legal rights for migrants, the drive by version, in Spanish and English! “Don’t try to use false papers, you can refuse to answer questions if you’re detained or arrested, you have the right to call an attorney if you’re detained or arrested, and don’t open the door to immigration agents or the police without seeing a judge’s warrant”

  151. Rachel*

    This is insane. John and Jenn seem to be bullying Amy for doing her job??? Like how is anyone supposed to come up with new fun things to tell guests daily???

  152. Christina*

    Lol in my job not only do I tell the same jokes over and over again, but I stole most of them from the person who trained me. This is very very normal and John and Jenn are weirdos.

  153. Erik*

    John and Jenn need to get a grip. I mean give me a break. This sounds like textbook front of house performance. Leave poor Amy alone

  154. Lena*

    Actually I’m wondering if this is a case where Jenn feels like she’s trying to come up with new recipes and menus all the time, and she feels resentful that Amy gets to recycle the same jokes over and over again. I can easily see Jenn feeling like her efforts are being overlooked and taken for granted while seeing Amy be praised for what appears to be low-effort repetitive work. That can explain why she thinks Amy is being disrespectful towards guests by not coming up with new material.

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