Did you miss me? Let’s see which of my dining experiences over the holidays should I share with you this time? I do need to remind myself that this is not the forum to rant, but rather to educate. I’m trying…
I am writing an Ebook (a few, actually) about service, and this particular point tends to come up over and over again. Why aren’t employees of restaurants and other businesses trained to say hello to guests when they walk in the door? Don’t these business owners understand the importance of it?
Let me lead with this anecdote: No, it did not take place in a restaurant, but rather a dry cleaners of all places…further illustrating my point that it is important to ALL businesses–not just restaurants.
Being the good husband that I am (and I hope my wife is not reading this), I stopped to pick up her dry cleaning just in time for Christmas. No, it was not a present, but she needed the clothes to wear during the holidays. When I walked in, there were 5 employees standing around the front area, and not one of them said hello to me.
Finally, one of them walked over to me and said, “What can I help you with?” Not all that friendly, but helpful I suppose. My response, which seriously pissed off my wife when I told her about it, was, “I just love it when I walk in to a place with five employees standing around and not one of them says hello…”
“You said that?”, my wife responded after I told her. I think she realized that she cannot go to that particular dry cleaners ever again; or if she does, they will probably misplace some of her items or find a way to have chemicals slowly eat away at her clothing, and possibly her skin. That is the problem with speaking up.
I rarely speak up in restaurants because I really don’t want to find saliva in my food. Disgusting, I know, but I actually know of someone who spit in a customers drink once. Once that I know about. It does happen folks.
But what a difference that hello can make.
Two days later I found myself in the San Francisco Bay area, and was out shopping with my wife and kids. Since that activity does not hold much interest for me, I broke off to find us a restaurant to eat at for dinner.
I walked in and stood there and watched as 4 servers walked by me, completely ignoring me. I spoke up and got the attention of one of them who went back to find the hostess. When she arrived, large soda in hand, all she said was, “Yes?”. Not the greeting I was hoping for. I am sorry if I am inconveniencing you and that I only plan on spending $200 here tonight…but do you have a table available for 4? (No, I did not say that.) So annoying.
You would be proud of me, however. I left that place to get my family, mad as hell, but determined to not let it ruin my night or my dining experience, and it didn’t. We went there and had a fabulous meal, a big part of which was due to my full determination to not let my previous experience at the front desk affect the family gathering. I am learning. Slowly, but surely.
Compare those experiences to one where you walk in and all of the staff has been trained to greet the guests right away. Like I said before, what a difference it can make. So, do me a favor–say hello. And then train your staff to do the same.