Customer Contempt

I never really understood this one.  You work in the hospitality business, depend on the generosity of others to make your living, and yet you have nothing but contempt for those you serve.  Those who pay your bills.

I see it often when I walk in to places.  That look on the face. “Oh no, another customer.”  It doesn’t matter if it is at the beginning of the evening, the end of the evening, slow, busy, or just another normal night.

I see it when I go out to eat with my parents.  They go to the same haunts, and although they are very friendly–lots of please and thank you–and reasonably good tippers, I still see them get that look.  “Oh, they’re here again…”

I’m baffled

I have to admit, this is a challenging one.  How does a restaurant owner keep his employees from behaving this way?  A good question.  Like so many things, there is no absolute answer.  Every place is different, with different employees, different customers, and therefore, different problems.

Consulting clients are often sharing generalizations with me that they found in some restaurant management book.  Or Google.  It cracks me up, and I kind of get an idea of what doctors must go through when their patients are going on and on with their own diagnosis, based on a half hour of internet research.

There are some helpful ideas, though

So, the point is, there is no universal answer to these problems.  You have to try things that would work best for your own particular set of problems.  But, you can try a few things that will solve a lot of employee morale issues.  Most of which I have mentioned in previous posts, but still are worth revisiting.

Hire well

Take the time to vet those potential employees.  Check references.  Pay attention to that gut feeling.  Don’t just hire them because they are a friend of a friend…

Feed them

Besides the fact that this will keep them from stealing, they will appreciate the job more.  You should buy them a glass of wine or a beer, too.

Reward those who go that extra mile

Stepped it up and came in when you really needed them to on their day off? Stayed late when a coworker had to leave early because they went home sick?  Came in on their weekend to help you paint, or clean out that horrible mess you call a walk-in?   Give them a bottle of wine.  Give them a gift certificate to your, or another, restaurant.  Remember, if you are controlling food costs, that $50 gift certificate you are giving to a deserving employee only cost you about $15.

You can’t rid yourself of all employee morale issues, but you can minimize them with just a little effort.  These efforts will not only pay off with happier employees, that stuff spills over into creating happier customers, and seriously cuts down on that customer contempt.

I need to add one more point:  Look in the mirror.  When I consult and these issues come up, it is usually (but not always) because of how the owner is treating his employees.  As with just about everything else in this business–it starts with you.




One Comment Add yours

  1. Jane Morrill says:

    Here here! Best post yet Tom.

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