No one with a lick of sense would suggest that the economy is setting cash registers on fire.
Few people know this more than restaurant owners, which is why you see them going out of their way to please their customers these days.
Just the other day, a friend was in a new restaurant in town. He and a friend were lunching while planning a big event.
While they were enjoying this new restaurant, they decided that it would be a nice idea to take the event staff out for dinner after a long day of work.
As the meal wore on, the quality of the food and attentive service in the crowded new restaurant made it obvious that the place would be a good fit.
Before long it was a done deal, they’d decided it’d be a great place to bring their crew for dinner.
The devil is in the details
When the waitress brought the check, they asked if they could speak to the manager.
“Sure, I’ll go get her for you”, the waitress said pleasantly as she took their ticket and cash toward the register.
A minute or two later, the manager came out with their change and receipt, then asked if she could join the two men.
“Sure, have a seat. We’ve got a few questions for you”, they reply.
A conversation about their group begins. They want to bring 25 volunteers and their families to the restaurant, a total of 65 people. Their budget is $7 per person and they’re OK with ordering from a limited menu to keep prices down.
The manager says for a group that size, she can plan a menu that’ll get the cost down to $6 per person and feed everyone well. Her staff will setup a seating arrangement that fits their group comfortably. Finally, she’ll put together a kid-friendly menu for the younger set.
The pair are thrilled with how the discussion has gone. They take a few notes and ask the manager to book the reservation. She agrees and reminds them that she needs a 50% deposit two days before the meal, and that there will be a 18% gratuity for her staff.
They agree to bring by a check and everyone is glad to have the evening planned out.
In the middle of a down economy, the manager of a new restaurant has just secured a 65 seat reservation at a fixed price of $6 per head. Not only are her food costs fixed, but the deposit easily covers them.
While this type of restaurant doesn’t usually take reservations (and this one is no exception), they’re glad to book groups. Groups not only fill the restaurant and the cash register, but they introduce lots of families to their new restaurant.
New families mean future patrons. No matter what else happens that night, they’ll gross just over $400 for that hour and the wait staff will gain more experience working with groups. All that and a nice tip for a job well done.
Waking up from the dream
Unfortunately, it didn’t go like this in the real world.
When asked about the manager, the waitress asked “May I ask what this concerns?” They told her and off she went to the office.
A few minutes later, she returned with a message from the manager: “He’s too busy to come out here right now, and told me to tell you that we don’t take reservations and we don’t have room for a group that size.”
Apparently, he was too busy to discuss a group seating, much less book a steady hour’s worth of business in a place that seats at least 70. That must be a riveting game of Farmville he has going on.
The real story offers one reason why businesses fail even in a strong economy: DontGiveACrapitis.
Normally a new restaurant would love to book a group, much less introduce their new business to as many families as possible. Not this restaurant.
With any luck, maybe a smart business owner will start a real restaurant there someday.
Got a place that can seat a group like this? They’re watching your comments.
Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com.
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