I have the advantage of many years of experience in various capacities in the restaurant industry. From high-end Beverly Hills celebrity hangouts to fast food joints. From General Manager down to dishwasher, I have done almost all you can do in this business.
However, the real advantage I have gained has come from being out of the business, back to being just a customer–that has allowed me to enjoy (?) what I call perspective. Remember my complaining about that ridiculous corkage fee, and how the manager should have been more pro-active in dealing with it? That manager used to be me. I would get all mad when customers would bring in wine, at the same time knowing that I was going to charge them for it, and yet not warning them of our policy. I was wrong to do that. I have since learned my lesson.
I worked at another place where a party of eight came in for lunch, all ordered sodas (which we served out of a soda gun, or as we call it in the business if you want to get geeky, a cobra gun), asked for many refills, and then were charged for each and every refill. Gee, I don’t understand why they were upset when they got a bill that included over $70 in soda charges!
That’s our rule
I would like to remind all of those restaurant owners out there, that this approach will only ultimately work against you. Have some flexibility. I understand you have rules, and they are there for a reason, but some of these rules are meant to be broken.
Think of the cost of implementing some of these often too-strict rules. Those eight soda drinkers are going to end up telling over 1000 people about that overcharge. Was it worth it? For seventy bucks?
Think about the policies you have in place, and then take each case separately and make a decision accordingly. And then be clear about your decision to the customer. Our goal is to get them to come back, not to try to get every dollar we can out of them on this one visit.