customer spills entire plate,what do you do?

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berndog
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/18 16:21:04 (permalink)
A lot of this decision depends on additional details not given. Although the meat was filet mignon, I am assuming this is not a high end restaurant, or why would the customer have been carrying his plate of food. It would have been served to him at his table.

That said, the decision to provide another meal at no charge could be based on how the customer dropped the plate and if there were any contributing circumstances on the part of the restaurant. Was the floor slippery, the tray overcrowded and hard to carry, or was the restaurant so crowded that the customer couldn't get from the food pickup to a table wthout tripping over or being jostled by other customers?

If I was the customer and dropped the plate due to my own fault, I would not expect the restaurant to replace my meal at no charge. However, I would expect fast replacement at a substantial discount, and I would be very disappointed if they did not offer to replace it gratis.

That is part of being in business. Treat the customer like they really matter to you (even if they don't deserve it)and you will be rewarded with return business and good word-of-mouth advertising from most of your customers.
#31
saps
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/18 20:44:33 (permalink)
No- no additional details needed. You want him to leave on a happy note with a good experience. Regardless of fault, the experience is already sullied by dropping the dish. You want to make the customer happy.

If you need additional details, then I would obtain the following before replacing or discounting the dish:

-Credit information
-Character references (to see if he is the type of person who would do this on purpose)
-Criminal record
-A listing of all restaurants he has been to in the past month (that way you can contact these places to see if he has tried to pull the same thing).
-Title search on any properties that he owns in order to look for liens
-Two years of professionally audited tax returns

After about a months worth of time and careful analysis of documentation, contact the customer and let him know if a discount or replacement dish is forthcoming.

Or, you can just take care of it while he is there initially.

You don't even want to put the customer in the position of having to ask for a discount or replacement.
#32
Mosca
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/18 22:24:49 (permalink)
It looks like everyone answered it with the automatic assumption that you wanted to provide the best service, not thinking that you would actually want to drive the customers away. Since you know the answer (new plate if you want to keep them, no plate if you don't), as long as you're OK with the consequences the question has no meaning since the assumed goal (customer retention) was actually undefined.

Consider this, if it's a bunch of young people who have no manners: young people grow up and become responsible and remember who was nice and who wasn't. So possibly for the next 40 years, to these 5 people you are the guy who thought having 3 people at one table and 2 at another instead of 5 at the one was more important than providing a welcome experience to some exuberant customers. So every time there's only 2 or 3 of them, when where to eat comes up your place is the one where they say, "Naw, they're nasty there." When someone asks for recommendations, yours isn't going to be it. Etcetera, etcetera

It's your business to run as you see fit. But the only way to measure its success is profitability. If you are comfortable with driving them away, so be it. But it wouldn't be my choice. And remember that kindness and forgiveness lasts FOREVER and often turns into friendship and reciprocal kindness; you had an opportunity to make customers for life, because inside they know it was their fault and that it was forgiven.


Tom

#33
BT
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/19 02:12:19 (permalink)
Mosca is right on the money.

First, I am often shocked by the number of people who post in these threads without bothering to read anything that preceeds their brilliant musings. We know it's NOT a high end place--he said it's solid Roadfood. We know he doesn't care if they come back--he said so.

He's willingly and knowingly giving up their future business. Maybe it's a mistake but it's his business and maybe it's NOT a mistake. If he's offering roadfood in the literal sense--food for travellers--these customers may have been passing by and will never pass by again and the people they badmouth to are 1000 miles away.

Bottom line--I suspect a lot of roadfood places are operating on the edge and can't afford to be giving away filet mignon dinners to one-time customers and it's up to the management to calculate the factors and decide whether to do it.

But before people keep posting "We don't know this and we don't know that", check what's been written to see if, in fact, we do know it.
#34
tacchino
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/19 03:07:48 (permalink)
Well, sorry, BT, while I agree with you almost always, I have some issues with your statements:
1) If this a roadfood establishment, living on the line financially, why is it even offering a filet mignon special? Again, sorry, but this is my same question about places that offer ridiculously low priced entrees in shrimp, seafood, etc. You are going to attract people who may not meet your high dining standards, as well as others..you should have figured this into your costs.
2) In the end, as they say, everything comes out in the wash...while you may have to swallow your pride and over some freebies to a few ingrates, you have built a legacy of consumer loyalty among people.
3) And once again, if you are truly a roadside place that does not rely upon repeat performance, you need to question why you are offering this special to begin with. And if you reply with "it's to bring in one-time business from the interstate" then you need to work the cost of that in with customers who may not be sensitive to your rules (i.e., about the numbers in your booths, etc.)
#35
Fieldthistle
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/19 03:28:06 (permalink)
Hello All,
BT, not to get picky, but some of us wrote responses based on the limited information drsmoke gave us.
Later he mentioned it was a table for 4, and 5 people sat down, and that he was a roadside designation.
But being a roadside designation doesn't mean, unless he choses, to treat customers like, "I'll never
see you again, so who cares what you think." He can have that attitude. I don't care.
But some owners of roadfood establishments come here to see how people react to such problems so they can
pick up points and learn.
You have people like, Slick, who are good, honourable business-people who care about customers as well as
profit. But you are right, it's up to the managment to calculate the factors and make decisions.
The nature of food and eating usually makes one think that it will be a pleasurable experience. If you provide
the food and service, you want it to be a good experience for your customer. If you are the consumer, you
have hope that the provider of the service is giving you the best they are able to give for the price you
are paying. Frankly, if I drop a drink or spill my food on the floor, I don't expect it to be replaced. Rather
I am embarrassed, and want to clean it up so that the staff doesn't have to deal with my mess.
Quite often, I see restuarant owners just so angry at their customers. That is normal to a certain extent.
But if you start hating your customers to the point that it drives you nutty, get out of the business.
Whether you are an owner, chef or cook, server, your job is an art, a wonderful art that gives pleasure
to the customer. It doesn't last as long as a painting or a book, but it truly is an art. And your service
is a gift to me, even though I pay for the gift.
But BT is right, it is up to the management.
Take Care,
Fieldthistle
#36
Mosca
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/19 07:58:43 (permalink)
A little OT, but don't we all consider ROADFOOD to be LOCAL places that travelers wouldn't normally find?

Tom
#37
NebGuy
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/19 11:31:40 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by pdxyyz

It's his business and he can run it the way he wants but he shouldn't ask for input then get his back up because he isn't getting the answer he wants.

If he was confident in his decision he wouldn't have come here to validate it.



I agree 100%
#38
Adjudicator
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/19 11:47:16 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by drsmoke02

just so you know, we are a roadfood designation, 5 customers sat at a booth for 4.the food was spilled simply because of too many elbows on 1 table,they wouldn't move.my food cost on that plate was over 50%, we were running a special. am i supposed to lose money because someone is stubborn.i substituted beef briskit at no charge.


And now that we see the true incident report we see it was customer error; like it usually IS...

In the senario illustrated above, I would have replaced nothing.

#39
mr chips
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/19 12:06:40 (permalink)
My son has on occasion dropped ice crean cones on the floor of restaurants or has spilled soda. Most of the time the restaurant help has cheerfully offered replacements.
These are not high-end items so the issue may be different. Sometimes I have been brought the wrong entree by a staff who mistook my order. I will usually eat it unless it is a food I absolutely despise because waitstaff work hard and often the mistake is my fault and I don't like to see servers get in trouble.
This policy would not make or break my decision about the restaurant because I can see both sides. As BT said, this is an individual matter for each restaurant so I'm not sure there is a right or wrong decision. I think there are more positives if you give another plate so that is what I would do.
#40
drsmoke02
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/19 14:37:31 (permalink)
i didn't get my back up at all as pdxyyz suggests.i simply wanted some opinions on how others might have handeled the situation of a customer warned about table size spills an expensive entree and as i mentioned in the second post i substituted a great beef briskit platter,which i didn't have to do.i don't believe the customer is always right,far from it.my food is good enough that if someone screws up yet demands free food,i have no problem saying no way.if they choose not to come back ,they will suffer far more than me.simply put if you serve food folks can't do without,your in charge not the customer,as it should be.
#41
nvb
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/19 17:59:44 (permalink)
Don't get me wrong. I not only want to take care of that customer and their food, but I figure I'll have many other eyes on me and how I resolve this situation. I want them all happy.
#42
saps
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/19 18:11:56 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by drsmoke02
if they choose not to come back ,they will suffer far more than me.simply put if you serve food folks can't do without,your in charge not the customer,as it should be.


Charlie Trotter in Chicago has the same attitude towards customers. That's why I haven't been there and never will go.
#43
joanie41
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/19 19:34:39 (permalink)
Judging from what the restaurant owner has written, this would not be my type of place. Too many other good places where the customer is treated like a guest, not an adversary!
#44
V960
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/20 09:29:13 (permalink)
Drsmoke,
I believe you will learn the hard way that w/ a very few exceptions great food does not make a successful restaurant. As to the opinions of others, seemed to me an overwhelming opinion the clumsey jerk should get another filet. Brisket instead of a filet is just as bad as telling him to take a long walk off a short pier.

Your store, your descision but IMHO the wrong one. Good luck.
#45
TJ Jackson
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/20 12:13:09 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Parses6

If the guy demanded a new meal, that sucka getting the same damn piece of meat cleaned off and re-heated on the grill in my place of business.

wow, food taken off a dirty, bacteria laden floor, re-heated, and served again?

You're ok with that and yet mcdonald's is vomit?

You've got issues

#46
drsmoke02
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/20 12:37:48 (permalink)
v960,your absolutely right great food,by itself doesn't make a successful restaurant.we have great food and great service.we have a huge repeat customer base, i'm simply not going to allow customers dictate how i run the place.yesterday,a customer,while i was out on an errand,literally reduced one of my best waitresses to tears,he loudly yelled at her that his root beer was too cold,i kid you not.she got him another without ice,he again went into a rant that it also was too cold,the waitress was so embarassed ,she cried. i guess i should have told him,no problem,lots of people think my root beer is too cold,it's on the house.
#47
roossy90
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/20 13:38:43 (permalink)
Can you tell us the name of your business and where it is, so that we dont go there?
I sure dont want leftover food, or food that has been dropped on the floor in your kitchen to end up on my plate.
#48
Mosca
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/20 13:52:22 (permalink)
drsmoke02,

I trust you to know what's best for your business. In the black & white world of internet forums, you give the guy a new plate; in the shades of gray that make up real life, it isn't alsways that simple.

I still think that given the way you asked the question, the right answer is "new plate".

The brisket plate may very well have been seen by the customer as a just replacement for something he knew he'd been warned about. Not having been there, it's hard to say.


Tom
#49
saps
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/20 14:07:13 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by drsmoke02

v960,your absolutely right great food,by itself doesn't make a successful restaurant.we have great food and great service.we have a huge repeat customer base, i'm simply not going to allow customers dictate how i run the place.yesterday,a customer,while i was out on an errand,literally reduced one of my best waitresses to tears,he loudly yelled at her that his root beer was too cold,i kid you not.she got him another without ice,he again went into a rant that it also was too cold,the waitress was so embarassed ,she cried. i guess i should have told him,no problem,lots of people think my root beer is too cold,it's on the house.


Use some common sense. Of course you'd be justified if you tossed somebody out who was verbally abusive to the staff or yourself.

#50
NebGuy
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/20 14:22:49 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by drsmoke02

v960,your absolutely right great food,by itself doesn't make a successful restaurant.we have great food and great service.we have a huge repeat customer base, i'm simply not going to allow customers dictate how i run the place.yesterday,a customer,while i was out on an errand,literally reduced one of my best waitresses to tears,he loudly yelled at her that his root beer was too cold,i kid you not.she got him another without ice,he again went into a rant that it also was too cold,the waitress was so embarassed ,she cried. i guess i should have told him,no problem,lots of people think my root beer is too cold,it's on the house.


You're trying to draw an analogy between a customer who spills his food and one who is abusive to your staff? I don't get it.
#51
V960
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/20 15:28:44 (permalink)
Drsmoke,
I hate to be a bother but would you please use the space bar and shift keys. Reading your posts is just a bit difficult.

I have read the preceeding posts and have to add that comping anyone for anything is a difficult choice. IE...if you run a place that has no return business (you have indicated that is not the case but just for arguements sake) then freebies are not a usual thing. The higher the return business the higher the comps. The customer is a jerk, his kids are a pain and his wife is ugly (hate to admit it but I like good looking customers of the female type)..."No soup for you!!!!".

It's your place. My father was well known as a liberal who would not tolerate racism. Our head buyer was black and our head waitress was of mixed blood. The local KKK leader was not allowed in our restaurant. "I'll burn it to the ground" he whispered to my Dad on his last visit.

Dad burst out laughing..."And I'll have a vacation while they build it back. Hey everyone the KKK is going to burn this place down because my yankee butt won't serve their redneck butts a steak." Then he whispered something to the KKK guy along the lines of burn anything you want but touch any of my people and I'll take days to finish killing you...no threat a promise. Then a big smile and a bourbon to go in a cup on the house.

Never had a fire or saw the KKK guy again. This was thirty five years ago but I was reminded of it by my wife a few days ago.

I hate admit it but my wife and I have talked about your question quite a bit over the last few days. To the point that we took a road trip w/ our daughters in search of a prom dress (what is this crap w/ prom dresses anyway?) this Saturday and had both of them ask us to shut up about the filet platter. She feels that the platter should NOT be comped. My reply is that she is a bean counter accountant and I am the front office type that makees the customer happy. Her reply is that I am a feel good glad hander. We're both right.

She is my book keeper on all our ventures. I am a glad hander salesman w/ a laugh, joke and smile. She is a no BS accountant. She is also one of the best negociators I've ever seen and I have a MBA from a major southern university.

However we've been married for 24 years and I have learned to listen to her. Comp the guy, don't comp him...got to make the descision on your feet.

#52
jellybear
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/20 15:49:50 (permalink)
I say your right.My Fault I pay,Your fault you pay.Take it to the back wait ten minutes then bring it back to the clutz.Make sure its hot.
#53
drsmoke02
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/20 16:03:06 (permalink)
mosca, you make a good point,the internet is indeed a black and white world,to explain any situation in detail would be impossible. my original question basically asks where do you draw the line? 1 in 4 customers drops their food 1 in 10, 1 in 100? what if a customer said that was terrific, i want another one,for free. point is if i screw up i pay,if the customer screws up i believe they should pay. What other profession or business is run with the notion that something goes wrong everything gets replaced so as not to lose goodwill.Your attorney loses a lawsuit on your behalf, next one free?i didn't like the movie, give me my money back,you know,i don't really like my new red car afterall,i want you to exchange for a new blue one,i only have 300 mi. on it.bottom bottom line i serve great food in a clean friendly atmosphere,great service,just a refusal to pay for others obvious mistakes{the 5 who sat at a table for 4 after being warned about the problem of too little room,thereby causing the spill}
#54
drsmoke02
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/20 16:07:22 (permalink)
sorry v960 ,i'm clueless as to what i'm doing wrong on the posts.i know,i know ,folks will say i'm clueless about the restaurant business.
#55
TJ Jackson
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/20 16:34:06 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Parses6

And a filet mignon that falls on the floor is still edible...

and there you have it, folks....you've just witnessed the end of all credibility that this fellow might once have had on this website.

a moment of silence now, please, for the loss of Parse6's credibility...
#56
The Travelin Man
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/20 16:59:22 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Mosca

A little OT, but don't we all consider ROADFOOD to be LOCAL places that travelers wouldn't normally find?

Tom


Come on, Tom. After being around here for so long, you should know that the one thing that we all CANNOT agree on is the definition of "roadfood."
#57
Mosca
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/20 17:05:56 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by drsmoke02

My original question basically asks where do you draw the line? 1 in 4 customers drops their food 1 in 10, 1 in 100?



Simple. You draw the line at profitability. If it is profitable in the long run to replace a plate, you do it, unless in the short run you can't afford to cover the initial cost of that action.

If 1 in 4 or even 1 in 100 customers are dropping plates, you have a problem with people goofing on you (or your tables are too small ;) ). I dine out probably 50 times a year, and over the last 20 years I don't think I've seen a single customer dump a plate of food. Not to say it doesn't happen, but I haven't seen it, in places from Perkin's to Brown's Beach House.

So I'll ask other professionals here, how often does this happen?


Tom
#58
zataar
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/20 17:18:16 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by Mosca
[
So I'll ask other professionals here, how often does this happen?


Tom

Maybe 3 times in 30 years. The entree was always replaced, with no charge and as little fuss as possible.
#59
bassrocker4u2
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RE: customer spills entire plate,what do you do? 2006/02/21 08:35:33 (permalink)
i have been a corp management monkey, and owner as well. everytime(not very often) i was faced with this scenario during my corp days, i would bite my lip, and replace the meal, as a well trained corp monkey is supposed to do. but the accident in question could have been prevented with a proper host/hostess at the door. that said, i would have put my foot down in the beginning..."sorry folks, firematial rules prevent me from allowing 5 poeple to sit in a table for 4. if you will please follow me, i have a table ready for you right over here....." and if they refuse, then be more persuasive. eventually, the point will be taken, or they will leave. either case, i followed corp rules, covered my butt(make sure you have employees to witness situation).
now, if i am owner, i first assess the customer. if they are unruly, then i probably dont want them or their friends or their friends friends to come into my place. done, now i take care of the good ones.......
#60
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