Most people don’t know what they are doing when they go out to eat. It doesn’t matter if it is a fine dining restaurant or a neighborhood joint, they just don’t know. But, that’s ok. It’s not their job to. That’s what we are there for.
Ahh, the sophisticated fine diner. They eat out a lot, and like to pretend that they really know food and wine, and perhaps they do, but that does not mean that they really know how to dine out. Again, that’s ok.
They are probably going to ask you a lot of geeky, foody questions about this menu item or that one, all the while completely clueless to the fact that it is insanely busy right now, that you have food in the window waiting to be picked up and brought to another table, and that you are short staffed this evening.
I remember one time a friend of mine was in having a drink and he called me over to comment on how crazy busy we were, and then proceeded to tell me about his latest golf score. Seriously.
It went kind of like this: “Wow, you guys are really busy!” “So, then on the 14th hole I had about 157 yards to the green…”
A customer, even a savvy one can transition from the recognition that you are too busy to talk right now, to telling you their life story in a single breath. And we are there to smile and take it. It is what we do. That is one of the reasons they eat out. Not just for the food, but for someone to listen.
The customers who eat here are really is no different than those at the fine dining restaurant. Their needs might be slightly different (crayons for their little child, oh yeah, I meant to ask for the ice on the side, etc.), but they are still going to test your patience when you are at your most busy. Again, that’s the way it goes, and it’s ok.
That’s what we do!
It is important that we go in with the right attitude. The right mindset. We all need to remind ourselves of what it is that we do. We are in the business of hospitality. We are there to serve. Not to expect our customers to be sensitive to the fact that we are too busy to chat with them or to answer their questions. Even if those are the same questions we find ourselves answering every day.
The act of being hospitable. Remember it is why we are there. Let go of all of those preconceived ideas of what you think it should be about. It is not, and it never was, about you. It is about the customer and their needs. Even if they are clueless.