O’Neill Dairy Queen: From Curly Q’s on Ice Cream Cones, to “Treating” Customers with Courtesy

Tysen Hansen

George Holm is arguably the most popular man in O’Neill. Known  just as “George” by townspeople, George has become a well known figure in the community.

Holm moved to O’Neill five years ago after managing a Dairy Queen in Wayne for several years. Holm wanted to buy out the store in Wayne, but had difficulties coming up with a deal to buy it. After receiving prompting from several people in O’Neill to come and buy out the store here, he finally did.

When he came here in 2005, he came with one goal: to create a business that served the community. Many of the people who visit Dairy Queen not only love the food, they love the customer service. One person said that the service was “The best service I have EVER seen. The kids are so respectful and patient, and they don’t hesitate to throw in a  joke every now and again.”

When asked if he stressed any particular thing to his employees, Holm responded with simply “The last customer of the night.” Holm went on to explain how the last customer is the easiest to keep but also the easiest to lose.

Holm went on to mention  “the three thank you’s.” Holm said there are three times the employee can say thank you. First, they can thank the person for coming in, Second; they can thank them for their order. And third, they can thank them for coming as they leave.

When asked why he thought the community embraced this Dairy Queen more than the one before it, Holm just said “I think people were ready for a change, so I think it was supported.” Unfortunately, the people in town had a little more detailed explanation than “they were ready for a change.”

Most people’s responses about the old Dairy Queen was the same: things weren’t only bad, they were terrible.  “The food was ALWAYS cold when we got it, the service was terrible and rude, and the bathrooms were so horribly unsanitary that we just stopped coming here.” That was the quote from just one person  interviewed, and that general response seemed to reflect just about everyone.

Even when Holm came to town, he didn’t quite get the response he was looking for. People were still pretty leery about the place in general. Soon though, rumor started getting around about the “new and improved” Dairy Queen.

Holm claims that stability is the backbone of any organization. Holm has two people still working for him that started as employees with him five years ago when he opened the business. “We have been lucky enough to have employees who are unselfish and are willing to come to work basically whenever they’re needed.”

Dairy Queen has also been very involved in the community with lots of activities. Husker Hoops is a big thing around O’Neill every year. Graduated players from the Nebraska Huskers football team come to O’Neill and play a humorous basketball against prominent people in O’Neill. Referees are also citizens of O’Neill and last year George was given the chance to play referee. Since O’Neill is the Irish Capital of Nebraska, George wore a kilt, long socks, and a plaid shirt to imitate an Irishman.

Holm said that was one of his fondest memories of living in O’Neill. He also said that he enjoys all the other activities he takes part in with the surrounding area.

Holm spent a little time talking about the activities he’s part of, but went right back to talking about his employees not long after. “I’ve enjoyed the ease of getting into activities, but the best experience I think is seeing employees going off to school, coming back, and saying they got something meaningful out of it.”

Holm’s respect and love for his employees is obvious, but the question is: do the employees love him back?

During the interview, Holm got up and got a piece of paper. On the back of that paper was a message his employees had written for him on “Boss Day.” The message on the paper was obviously heartfelt with lots of smiley faces and (hugs).

The last question aksed to Holm was what response he had to a quote that one of his employees made. “He can get a little irritable when the work isn’t done correctly, but I wouldn’t pick another boss because of his humor and kindness.” When I asked Holm what his reaction to that quote was, Holm simply gave a big grin and said… “Pretty good quote.”

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