A random look at the life and times of Jim Rising recovering radio addict and newspaper columnist.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Check Please

Some of the names here have been changed to protect the guilty and the innocent. In the big scheme of things this is not at the top of the list. But still it baffles me why anyone in this economy would turn down money for honest work.
Let me back up here. I have some friends who are part of a club. We will say it’s the ferret club to protect their identities. Imagine a group of ordinary folks who love all things ferrets. They have little gatherings of their little club in the summer, putting the ferrets thru their paces and award trophies for the best ferrets.
Once a month these ferret lovers like to gather and break bread. They choose among all the fine area eating joints and never had a problem. Never until the last meeting, that is.
The ferret club group on this evening numbered 9. They got a table at a local place known for its pizza. They asked the server if it would be a problem if they could please have separate checks and that’s when the night got ugly. I wasn’t there but I can recreate the scene. The waitress snapped her gum and placing her hand on her hip rolled her eyes. “We only do separate checks for parties of 8 or less.” She dug in her heels and as far as she was concerned that was that. The ferret club consulted each other and made a counter offer. They would combine orders so the waitress would need to write only four checks. No sale.
Now bear in mind that there were 9 people. One over the limit and no ferrets in sight. The manager was summoned. He backed his waitress up.
The ferret club looked at each other and agreed to leave and reconvene elsewhere.
I did a quick survey on the phone this morning. I called quite a few different restaurants. Coopers. Bennigan’s. Ollie’s, Hops and Barley’s. The Chicken Coop. The Dough Company. Pizza Hut. The Olive Garden. Ruby Tuesdays. Cracker Barrel. Red Lobster. Applebees. Lonestar Steak house. The results of my unscientific poll? Each restaurant I called said “no problem.” Would I like to make a reservation?
In the big scheme of things the loss of the restaurant that wouldn’t write separate checks was probably just over $100. The waitress, if she was tipped 20% would have made $20.
It’s not much money I know. But let me put it to you another way. One of the ferret club gave me a gift certificate to the restaurant in question. Why? They had received it as a gift and didn’t want to ever go back there, even for free. Ask yourself this. If you owned this restaurant, would you want that to happen?


Jim Rising said...

There is a book that i read awhile ago, and ever since i read it... i make sure to give it to every contractor or employee i have ever managed. It's called QBQ - The Question Behind the Question - How to eliminate blame, complaining and procrastination.

Check it out here!

there is this story in the book about this guy who goes to a restaurant and orders a coke-a-cola. for whatever reason, the restaurant doesn't have any coke... but the waiter actually went to a store down the street and bought a coke for the guy out of his own pocket. a great deal about customer service in companies has to do with empowering your employees to make decisions like this on their own to benefit the customer and your company. it seems the bigger a company gets, the less empowering they can be... and the less they trust the folks in the trenches (including management) to make these sorts of decisions.

part of this is probably due to the fact that many of these companies are built based on a 'system' that works 98% of the time. i'm sure that this particular parlor of pizza purveyance probably ran into situations where large groups of young teen-age kids would come in and split the bill on cokes and a slice. this 98% most likely cost them a lot of time figuring out that split bill, without much reward for the waitress... which is probably why the 'fewer than 8' rule was designed.

but... if the waitress (or the manager) was empowered to make a decision on behalf of the customer and the business... they could have (should have) made an exception.

i have run into a similar situation where a coupon for something like 'buy one, get one half off' got me into this restaurant called 'The Golden Eagle' here in Murfreesboro, Tennessee... only after close inspection realizing that it (the coupon) was expired. of course, melissa and i were already there... so i took a chance and asked the waitress ahead of time to see if she would allow us to use it. because she was not empowered to honor the coupon, we took our business elsewhere to another restaurant with another coupon. we have not been back to the original place since, and now the story is on the internet for the world to see. :)

Donna T said...

I also am not a fan of a minimum order to use a debit card. I was at a local bar one night and ordered a pitcher- just opened a tab. My friends wanted to leave ("This place is dead..."), so I went to cash in my tab. They wouldn't let me cash out because it was under $10. So, I bought a drink for some random stranger at the bar to make $10 and then I didn't leave a tip. Had she been nice, maybe I would have.... there was no sign displayed or anything...