Don’t Sell Customers Short To Make Your Life Easier
We’re in a recession, yet I’m shocked and amazed at the number of restaurants operating out there as if these were still boom times. I’m talking about stuff that shouldn’t be acceptable any time, much less during an economic downturn. Examples? I’ve got plenty. And I know there are business reasons for some of the things I’ll mention, but customers don’t give a damn about what makes your business run easier, particularly if those practices make it harder for them to be your customer.
A while back the staff of this magazine decided to have a dinner out. Nothing fancy. We looked to the type of the midscale chain that we often cover in our pages. Dinner for 18 on a Tuesday night. "No, we don’t take reservations," we were told when we called one such place. "Besides, it’s not crowded on a Tuesday night," the reservationist explained. Maybe, but no group wants to walk into a restaurant with 18 people and be surprised or have to wait while you’re setting up for such a large party. How difficult would it have been for them to say, "Sure, we’ll set aside some space for you. Come on in"? But they didn’t. Eighteen customers needlessly lost.
Here’s another not-too-uncommon scenario. A friend calls a restaurant to make a reservation for eight people. The reservationist accepts the reservation, but then sternly explains that there will be no separate checks and there will be an automatic 18 percent gratuity.
"I hang up the phone and find myself getting angrier by the minute," my friend says. "The reservationist made me feel like she is doing me a big favor accepting the reservation, and that she would only do so under these conditions."
He goes on to say, "And why can’t there be separate checks? Because it’s harder on the waitress? I’m the customer. Shouldn’t they be trying to make my visit to their business easier on me?" Eight customers needlessly lost.
Here’s one from another friend, who is convinced many restaurants operators make their lives easier at the expense of customers.
"What’s the story with the two receipts that now come after you’ve handed over your credit card?" he asks?" There used to be a carbon copy and you put your tip down, add it up and then sign. Now, there’s often no carbon with the bill, so you have to fill out the merchant copy first and, so you’ll remember what tip you left, fill out the second bill. It’s no big thing, but I resent them making my life a little more difficult so theirs may be a little bit easier."
A final scenario:I’m at an upscale restaurant and, after perusing the menu, the waiter comes by and announces the evening’s specials. Twenty of them, and they are not written down. "Are you kidding," I say to the waiter. "No," he says, "you’re supposed to pick one out as I’m telling you and then remember it." "I want the 10th special," I tell him. "I don’t know the 10th special, you’re supposed to remember," he says. The specials I forgot; the experience there I never will. One more customer needlessly lost.