My friend Jody writes - Proposal for your blog: "Ask the Guy."
I want to know what to do when I get horrible service at a restaurant... repeatedly.
I love the food, the atmosphere (or lack thereof) and convenience, but the servers are just lazy. I don't really want to punish the owners of this small independent, but .... well?
Thirsty at table 12.
Thanks for supporting Mom and Pop Jody!
Great question, and idea - an interactive blog! Peeps - yes, feel free to fire your questions my way if you think I'm qualified, and you can trust my answers. But I'm going to have to think up something wittier than Ask the Guy... Hmmmm.
Well I'm betting almost everyone reading this can relate to your question to one degree or another. I'm guessing that by "not punish" the owners, you're implying that you are thinking of NOT patronizing the place any longer, because the service is just that bad, and you've "HAD IT" huh?
Can anybody else reading this relate?
First off, you'll want to know that is EXACTLY the type of feedback nearly every restaurant manager and certainly owners WANT to hear from their customers...
In today's economy especially, things are tough for all of us. So if you're thinking about no longer spending money at their place of business, trust me, Mom and Pop WANT you to give them the feedback they need to address your dissatisfaction, and make you be willing to give them another chance (or two) before they never see you again. And never see your money in their bank account again.
I've also found that restaurant owners can be pretty prideful people - (no names...) - but do you really think one would want people using this blog post's headline used to describe their restaurant? Say by word-of-mouth, or in an online review that says so?
So while it might seem strange or even tough, you need to talk to them - or just write them a detailed letter. Tell them exactly what you told me - firstly that you love their food, but that you seem to never get drink refills or your customer service needs met when you come there. (You might even add "This is why I don't feel comfortable bringing my family / dates / business contacts here..." if it's true, that is.)
If they value your patronage, this will likely light a fire under their aprons. If one customer tells them this, they know deep down that many, many more are feeling the same way - and may have already made the decision to not come back. With this exact feedback to work from however, they will almost guaranteed-edly talk to their wait-staff, and either crack down on policies, or begin to look into some "staff adjustments" over time.
In a smaller town however, it's often just plain hard to hire and retain really good people. When I lived and worked in Roswell NM, I feel that there were often employees that should have been disciplined (or fired) that we kept, just to meet the daily staffing needs. In some restaurants, they really do find themselves in the sad position of "now hiring warm bodies" rather than "now interviewing qualified candidates".
Ours is a business where especially in the "lower-end" more cheaply priced establishments, employees who simply "show up" are considered valuable, they don't necessarily have to excel at anything to remain employed. And let's face it, kids today just suck, plain and simple. They don't have a work ethic.
I think your Mom and Pop place faces a staffing issue. That's a possible reason btw, of course. It's not a genuine excuse - but a definite challenge they need to overcome if they want keep your business.
But they may not realize this unless you tell them.
To make this approach most effective (especially since you mentioned the place is convenient for you to drop into) I'd recommend making a special trip, so that your visit and complaint is isolated from the incidents you're speaking of.
I think you'll have much more impact if you make the effort to drop in when you're not eating, and not particularly upset (i.e., it won't be as easily dismissed as a "heat of the moment" complaint - nor "solved" in their minds by giving you free meal). Just be sure to drop in before or after the lunch "rush" so they have the time to sit and listen to you. 2-4pm is ideal for most places that serve lunch, but definitely not 11am-2pm. A letter might be effective, but a personal visit will show that you've put some thought into addressing this, that you really care, and that you're really at your wit's end and about to give up on them if changes aren't made asap.
How could they not respond positively?
My only other advice (which I think you personally already get, but for others) is to not make the mistake of thinking that tipping poorly is going to get the message across. While you may be justified to tip poorly for extremely poor service (10%) it will most likely have the opposite effect of what you're going for. Especially in small towns, with small staffs, you're just going to be spoken of amongst the wait-staff as "that guy who tips crappy" and they'll become predisposed to pay you even less attention.
A vicious cycle, I know. While acting upon the common redneck phrase I heard a lot in Nashville "No tea, no tip" (pronounced "no tay, no teee-ip") by not tipping well may have given the redneck satisfaction for a moment.. what do you really think his tea glass looked like the next time he came in?
I wouldn't exactly recommend this d-move, either!
Remember tho, I'm only 99% certain that Mom and Pop DO want your feedback. Most bigger "chains" utilize comment cards, "mystery shoppers" and/or internet feedback forms these days. Why? Because they really want to know how to keep you and your money coming back, and if some lazy employee(s) is/are screwing up the odds of that happening, they want to know. Sounds like your place is small enough to not be able to afford that, so trying the old-fashioned approach of telling the business owner how you feel is most likely your best shot at getting the service you want, from the place you like to eat.
And of course, if and when you DO find a server who seems to go above and beyond and does well by you - especially compared to other experiences you have in that same establishment - make a habit of asking for them when you walk in. (Thought I was going to say "tip well" didn't you?)
Others .. How Can I Help You Today?
Got questions you think I might be able to offer some parsley and sage advice on? Comment below, or just email me if you're not a Steemian. Yet.
Get it? "Parsley & Sage Advice!"
I crack me up sometimes.
Thanks for reading Guy's Waiter Blog : Chapter 7 "The Food's Good but the Service SUCKS!"
Read other chapters starting at TheWorkingGuy.com's Table of Contents page