Category Archives: Customer Service

Our bars know the lesson United Airlines is about to learn.

“Back in the Day” bars had bouncers. If a patron “mouthed off,” interfered with business, got into a spat with a regular, or numerous other offenses, we threw them out, by force if necessary. “You had to be tough” in our business. Then somewhere around 2000 we realized we were spending a lot of our days off going to court!

It was then the ultimately wise operations leaders in our company developed a security policy which placed the highest priority on avoiding violence. Forget being “right.” Forget ego. If someone is running away, let them go. If there’s immediate violence, surround a perpetrator to diffuse – strength in numbers. Cameras everywhere. Up the security staff. Stop hiring big tough guys and hire savvy normal guys who can defend themselves, but also grew up having to talk their way out of situations now and then. We stopped having bouncers and started having hosts.

We asked the question: do we want to be “right,” possibly have staff get hurt in a fight, and spend our days off in court? Or do we want to put ego aside and do whatever we can to diffuse situations creatively and be done with it? Our leadership decided on the second option and it was one of the smartest things we ever did. Injuries and lawsuits plummeted for our group, and insurance rates stayed in line.

United Airlines, Republic Airlines (the actual carrier operating the plane within the United system) and even the O’Hare Airport Police are waking up today wishing they didn’t have to deal with the disaster of yesterday’s videotaped assault of a passenger to remove them from the plane. As we learned in our business, it doesn’t really help if you’re “right” when you still have to clean up a huge, expensive mess.

Perhaps if the authorities involved adopted a policy that before using any force (except in immediate physical threats) the Captain is notified, everyone stands down, and there is a meeting of the minds on how to otherwise solve a problem. On a plane, like a ship, the Captain is the ultimate authority and can make virtually any call. Captains should be trained to be creative and not enforce rules mindlessly to the detriment of all. I’m sure United wishes someone would have just offered more money for a volunteer until someone could not resist taking their invitation to get “bumped.” It would be a lot cheaper than what’s going to happen now!

Any threat of force in a business needs to be seriously and creatively evaluated before moving forward! It’s not about who is “right,” it is about what’s best in the situation, short term and long term. We think of business creativity as innovation on a conceptual level, but it’s needed in all parts of any enterprise in order to avoid disasters.

Ego and rigid rules are dangerous to a business! Smart and flexible is a road to success.

There are still a lot of “old school” bars out there. Anyone who needs help updating their customer service – that’s one of the services offered at A-List Marketing! Reach out anytime and let’s talk.

 

If banks were restaurants they’d all go out of business.

Dear banks,

We’ve noticed as you merge and grow your customer service goes down the drain.

You replace most of the experienced people we’ve gotten to know with barely trained robotic staff.

You make up rules that don’t exist and aren’t consistent branch to branch.

You use fraud protection as an excuse for bad service and no common sense.

You’d really prefer not to have lobbies or provide any services other than selling us stuff.

The only way for a business owner like myself to efficiently and pleasantly do business with a bank to pick one branch and only go to that one branch. Get to know the people so they can make “exceptions” that shouldn’t have to be exceptions. It’s like having to know the doorman at a nightclub!

When you merge, your original shareholders tend to get short-changed unless they are bank management.

If an independent restaurant grew into a chain the way banks do, they’d go out of business.

Then again, restaurants aren’t bailed out by taxpayers when they make bad decisions!

 

 

 

What We All Lose If Tipping Is Eliminated

Updated 9-18-16

~ Prices will go up more than 20% . Trust me, they’ll have to. So customers will pay more at any place that’s even moderately popular.

~ Good servers at most places will make less money as the net wage hike will not cover the lost tips. The majority of servers I know are strongly against getting rid of tips.

~ Operators will lose as higher menu prices will decrease customer visits and spending.  ~ Most sadly, another one of the rare person to person relationships left in our social life will vanish.
~ Based on my past as a tipped server in the past, and my years in many different aspects of the hospitality business, in concepts from low to high end, I think this is a mistake across the board.

~ Everyone will lose if we get rid of tipping.

Here’s a 9-18-16 update from the Chicago Tribune on how the no-tipping experiment is failing.

a tipster not just a hipster tip sign

 

#TBT People love our food so much they take photos to send their friends!

~~ Imagine how thrilled we would have been 15 years ago if a customer had brought a camera to our restaurant, taken photos of our food and mailed the pictures to all their friends with a note on how delicious it was and what a good time they were having?  #TBT

~~ So how NUTS are restaurant managers, owners, chefs and service staff to complain about people snapping food photos at dinner and sharing them?

~~ Food (pictures) for Thought.  — TTBG

 

The most hilariously unfair one-star review of all time

I bet this nitwit is on Yelp regularly reviewing restaurants…

BGR

No matter how good your mobile app is, there will always be at least one person who will trash it with a one-star rating on the App Store, just because some people can’t help hating on things. App developer Todd Ransom, who has developed an app that maps out the areas surrounding the gorgeous waterfalls of western North Carolina, explains on Twitter that his app has gotten a one-star review for the most ridiculous possible reason: The reviewer got stung by yellow jackets while using the app.

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Why our Customers are not “Guests”

It’s been a restaurant/bar industry trend for quite a few years now to refer to customers as “guests.”  It has spread to other retailers as well.  I have frequently used this description myself.

We all like the sound of “guests;” it appeals to the welcoming  instincts of the retail and hospitality trade.  The problem is that it’s not really accurate.

  1. A guest traditionally does not pay, whereas a customer of a business does.
  2. A guest is expected to be grateful and appreciative of a host’s hospitality.
  3. A guest implies a temporary interaction.

I think using “guest” as a description can lead a hospitality professional into having the wrong attitude toward their customers.

I believe the word “patrons” is the best description we can use in the hospitality business for our desired customers, much more accurate and focused than “guests,” or “customers.”

  1. It emphasizes that we are dependent on the “patron” to financially support our business, which is true and should never be forgotten.
  2. Whereas “guests” owe thanks to their “hosts,” we as hospitality operators should always be grateful for our “patrons” support, which allows us to prosper in business.
  3. “Patron” implies a longer term relationship, which we should all be striving for with customers.
  4. A “Patron Focused Mentality” directs our attention to the customers that spend to actually support our business; not all “guests” are equally valuable.  A person can be a customer and yet not be very beneficial to a business if they are cheap, don’t visit regularly, or absorb an unprofitable amount of time, attention and resources.   The word “patron” comes closer in meaning to describing someone who is truly beneficial (profitable) to the business.

Using the word “patron” captures the precise meaning of the customers we want and value, and allows us to differentiate them from run of the mill customers or “guests,” who may or may not be valuable.

Using the more accurate term helps us never forget to thank our patrons consistently for their patronage, and work hard to have a long term profitable relationship with our patrons!

And as an unrelated fact, Patron is a heck of a good tequila! 

Cheers — TTBG