Ok, I stole this one from a bumper sticker. I don’t usually get much out of bumper stickers, but this one caught me off guard and really cracked me up (fortunately, it didn’t really crack me up because I was on my bike and that would have been bad). The actual bumper sticker reads: “Keep Portland Sanctimonious,” but I thought its use for Portland restaurants was pretty clear and obvious.
Has this ever happened to you?
Have you ever gone into a place for the first time, completely unfamiliar with that particular restaurant’s routine, and received attitude from the restaurant’s employees, because you didn’t know what to do, and got no help from anyone? That you were supposed to seat yourself, or you were not supposed to seat yourself, or that you were supposed to order first, and then go find a seat, or any number of other violations that you were not educated enough to know?
Whenever I am asked to consult at a place, the first thing I pay attention to is how I am greeted when I walk in. These employees don’t know that I am there in a consulting capacity. As far as they are concerned, I am just another customer walking through those doors.
That is why it can be so telling. Were they friendly? Did they try to help me? Of course, there are a number of things I must consider when I am consulting: Food cost, labor cost, ordering practices, other service issues, etc., but you can really tell a lot about a place based on how you are initially treated.
I just love this sign that I saw outside of a food cart in town (I don’t ask much of my kids, but I made them promise me that they would never eat at this food cart again):
Once again, we want friendly
And I don’t mean Johnny Friendly (Sorry, not sorry, for the obscure film reference). Restaurant owners and managers: Always assume that the person walking through your doors is a potential customer for life. Assume they don’t know a thing, and you are there to assist. And then train your staff to do the same. Every time. Have I used the every time theme before? Remember, we are in the hospitality business–let’s all try to be hospitable. What do you say?