It’s All in How You Handle It

What a difference a recovery can make. Taking an angry, unhappy customer and turning them around in to one of your best regulars. Spokespersons for your restaurant. People want to like you. I have said many times, it is not the mistakes you make, but rather in how you handle them.


While serving the bouillabaisse to a customer the server accidentally spills some of the liquid on the lap of the guest. “Oops,” she says as she walks away.


After spilling the fish broth on the customer, she says,”Oh my gosh, I am so sorry, are you okay?” A minute later the manager is there checking to make sure everything is alright, hands the guest a business card and insists that the dry cleaning bill be sent to him. In addition the manager buys desserts for the table. The manager then reminds the server to take the desserts off the check, and on the guests’ way out, the manager, and the server are there to make double sure everything is okay and to remind them to let them know about the dry cleaning. A good manager might even call them the next day to make sure things worked out.


A customer walks in with his or her date, goes up to the front desk to announce their arrival, tells the maître ‘d the name of the reservation and the maître ‘d peers down at the reservation book, unable to find their name, and says, “I’m sorry, I don’t have you down on my reservations…”, and sends them away.


As the guest walks in and announces the reservation name, the maître ‘d quickly scans the reservations, unable to find the name, but covers it up nicely, saying this time, “I’m sorry, we are just a bit behind, but I should have that table ready very soon…”, offers them the chance to wait in the bar, and let’s them know that he will be checking with them shortly.

As they leave, he quickly starts to look for a way to accommodate these guests, and not only that, he checks back with them in the bar a couple of times to assure them that he has not forgotten them and that their table is almost ready.

Yet another

A customer calls the server over because the salmon is a little under cooked for their liking. The servers responds with, “that’s how we serve the fish here,” and does nothing about the fish that the guest is paying $30 for.


When told about the undercooked fish, the server apologizes, picks up the plate and brings it to the kitchen, asking for a bit more fire on it–braving the attitude that they know they are going to get from the kitchen for daring to return an item of food that the cook knows is cooked perfectly. And then returns to the guest assuring them that it should just be a couple more minutes and thank you for their patience.

Handle it

Remember, it is not up to us to tell the customer what medium rare is. Even though us trained professionals may have a pretty good idea of what medium rare means, the customer who is paying for it, gets to enjoy it however they see fit.

Grit your teeth, and fix the problem. Don’t look for blame, just fix the problem. You can talk about it later, after work over a glass of wine, and try to figure out how to manage it in the future. It will lead to more returning customers, and more $ in the bank.



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