When aren’t customers good for your business?

Alexander Kjerulf

self defined as “Chief Happiness Officer” writes in his blog http://positivesharing.com about cases where customers are more trouble than benefit for the businesses.

He focuses his examples on the airlines industry, where thousands of people fly every day and have a few customers that are more trouble than benefit.

Mr. Kjerulf these top five reasons why business shouldn’t follow the strategy: “The customer is always right”. I will add my take on this applying his reasonings to the Restaurant industry.

1: It makes employees unhappy

Mr. Kjerulf says that business owners should always be in the employee’s side since they want to keep their employees loyal.
Of course, things are a little different in the restaurant business. Disgruntled customers mean no tips for waiters and really bad publicity (via online forums, etc.) for the restaurant.
Although I agree that you need to be loyal to your employees, and that if a customer is not reasonable and threatens any of your employees you should take always the side of your employee, I sincerely think that your employees could/would put up with any difficult customer if their demands are not unreasonable.
Happy customers are good for everybody (more tips and more referrals) and not all your clients will be pleasant and having nice personalities.

2: It gives abrasive customers an unfair advantage

The reasoning here is that abusive people get away with anything and get better treatment than nice people.
Again, I disagree here. Abusive people perhaps can bully their way once or twice; but your employees will always treat better nice clients by having extra attentions with them, engaging in personal conversation, etc., versus serving the minimum needs of nasty customers so that they don’t complain.

3: Some customers are bad for business

He has a point here. Some customers are impossible to please. Perhaps they have some mental disorders (how many people walk the streets with mental problems? Many for sure) or are just grumpy or unhappy with their lives and they share their unhappiness with everybody around them, or more specific with your staff since they probably feel superior and want to let them know who’s in control.
What can you do with these difficult customers? Well, I would suggest you to try to please them, within a reason.
However, if you see that they become aggressive or disruptive, invite them to leave your premises and tell them that you will call the police if they don’t comply.
The limit of tolerance is the point where they start bothering other clients. This is never acceptable. You can’t afford to have a few out-of-control customers spoiling everybody else’s dining experience.

4: It results in worse customer service

Mr. Kjerulf’s point here is that happier employees make happier customers. I don’t doubt this. I just think that disruptive customers are a minority and your employees should be trained to deal with them. Of course, you need to care about your employees and side with them when they are right, but you also need to care about your clients.
At the end of the day, your clients are the ones who give you the money so you need to keep a balance.

5: Some customers are just plain wrong

The example that Mr. Kjerulf gives here is about a passenger that behave like a jerk. Again this kind of behavior fits into the disruptive category that we mentioned before. This passenger, with his behavior, wasn’t only rude to the flight assistants, he was rude to the rest of the passengers and therefore this can’t be tolerated.
To conclude, your customers have the right to ask for a great dining experience in your place and should ask you to make right something that it’s wrong. However, they don’t have the right to be rude to your staff or disruptive to the rest of your clientele. This is the point where you should intervene and ask them to leave your premises, even at the expense of not charging them for the food. It is better to lose a few dollars that to start a confrontation that makes the situation very uncomfortable for you, your employees and the rest of your clients.
Any Comments? Please let me know what you think.
You can participate in the forums in my web site at www.myrestaurantmarketing.com or email me at jose@riescoconsulting.com
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.

When aren’t customers good for your business?

Alexander Kjerulf self defined as “Chief Happiness Officer” writes in his blog http://positivesharing.com/ about cases where customers are more trouble than benefit for the businesses.

He focuses his examples on the airlines industry, where thousands of people fly every day and have a few customers that are more trouble than benefit.

Mr. Kjerulf these top five reasons why business shouldn’t follow the strategy: “The customer is always right”. I will add my take on this applying his reasonings to the Restaurant industry.

1: It makes employees unhappy
Mr. Kjerulf says that business owners should always be in the employee’s side since they want to keep their employees loyal.

Of course, things are a little different in the restaurant business. Disgruntled customers mean no tips for waiters and really bad publicity (via online forums, etc.) for the restaurant.

Although I agree that you need to be loyal to your employees, and that if a customer is not reasonable and threatens any of your employees you should take always the side of your employee, I sincerely think that your employees could/would put up with any difficult customer if their demands are not unreasonable.

Happy customers are good for everybody (more tips and more referrals) and not all your clients will be pleasant and having nice personalities.

2: It gives abrasive customers an unfair advantage
The reasoning here is that abusive people get away with anything and get better treatment than nice people.

Again, I disagree here. Abusive people perhaps can bully their way once or twice; but your employees will always treat better nice clients by having extra attentions with them, engaging in personal conversation, etc., versus serving the minimum needs of nasty customers so that they don’t complain.

3: Some customers are bad for business
He has a point here. Some customers are impossible to please. Perhaps they have some mental disorders (how many people walk the streets with mental problems? Many for sure) or are just grumpy or unhappy with their lives and they share their unhappiness with everybody around them, or more specific with your staff since they probably feel superior and want to let them know who’s in control.

What can you do with these difficult customers? Well, I would suggest you to try to please them, within a reason.

However, if you see that they become aggressive or disruptive, invite them to leave your premises and tell them that you will call the police if they don’t comply.

The limit of tolerance is the point where they start bothering other clients. This is never acceptable. You can’t afford to have a few out-of-control customers spoiling everybody else’s dining experience.

4: It results in worse customer service
Mr. Kjerulf’s point here is that happier employees make happier customers. I don’t doubt this. I just think that disruptive customers are a minority and your employees should be trained to deal with them. Of course, you need to care about your employees and side with them when they are right, but you also need to care about your clients.

At the end of the day, your clients are the ones who give you the money so you need to keep a balance.

5: Some customers are just plain wrong
The example that Mr. Kjerulf gives here is about a passenger that behave like a jerk. Again this kind of behavior fits into the disruptive category that we mentioned before. This passenger, with his behavior, wasn’t only rude to the flight assistants, he was rude to the rest of the passengers and therefore this can’t be tolerated.

To conclude, your customers have the right to ask for a great dining experience in your place and should ask you to make right something that it’s wrong. However, they don’t have the right to be rude to your staff or disruptive to the rest of your clientele. This is the point where you should intervene and ask them to leave your premises, even at the expense of not charging them for the food. It is better to lose a few dollars that to start a confrontation that makes the situation very uncomfortable for you, your employees and the rest of your clients.

Any Comments? Please let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading and happy sailing,

Jose L Riesco
© Riesco Consulting Inc.
www.twitter.com/jlriesco
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

When aren’t customers good for your business?

Alexander Kjerulf

self defined as “Chief Happiness Officer” writes in his blog http://positivesharing.com/ about cases where customers are more trouble than benefit for the businesses.

He focuses his examples on the airlines industry, where thousands of people fly every day and have a few customers that are more trouble than benefit.

Mr. Kjerulf these top five reasons why business shouldn’t follow the strategy: “The customer is always right”. I will add my take on this applying his reasonings to the Restaurant industry.

1: It makes employees unhappy

Mr. Kjerulf says that business owners should always be in the employee’s side since they want to keep their employees loyal.
Of course, things are a little different in the restaurant business. Disgruntled customers mean no tips for waiters and really bad publicity (via online forums, etc.) for the restaurant.
Although I agree that you need to be loyal to your employees, and that if a customer is not reasonable and threatens any of your employees you should take always the side of your employee, I sincerely think that your employees could/would put up with any difficult customer if their demands are not unreasonable.
Happy customers are good for everybody (more tips and more referrals) and not all your clients will be pleasant and having nice personalities.

2: It gives abrasive customers an unfair advantage

The reasoning here is that abusive people get away with anything and get better treatment than nice people.
Again, I disagree here. Abusive people perhaps can bully their way once or twice; but your employees will always treat better nice clients by having extra attentions with them, engaging in personal conversation, etc., versus serving the minimum needs of nasty customers so that they don’t complain.

3: Some customers are bad for business

He has a point here. Some customers are impossible to please. Perhaps they have some mental disorders (how many people walk the streets with mental problems? Many for sure) or are just grumpy or unhappy with their lives and they share their unhappiness with everybody around them, or more specific with your staff since they probably feel superior and want to let them know who’s in control.
What can you do with these difficult customers? Well, I would suggest you to try to please them, within a reason.
However, if you see that they become aggressive or disruptive, invite them to leave your premises and tell them that you will call the police if they don’t comply.
The limit of tolerance is the point where they start bothering other clients. This is never acceptable. You can’t afford to have a few out-of-control customers spoiling everybody else’s dining experience.

4: It results in worse customer service

Mr. Kjerulf’s point here is that happier employees make happier customers. I don’t doubt this. I just think that disruptive customers are a minority and your employees should be trained to deal with them. Of course, you need to care about your employees and side with them when they are right, but you also need to care about your clients.
At the end of the day, your clients are the ones who give you the money so you need to keep a balance.

5: Some customers are just plain wrong

The example that Mr. Kjerulf gives here is about a passenger that behave like a jerk. Again this kind of behavior fits into the disruptive category that we mentioned before. This passenger, with his behavior, wasn’t only rude to the flight assistants, he was rude to the rest of the passengers and therefore this can’t be tolerated.
To conclude, your customers have the right to ask for a great dining experience in your place and should ask you to make right something that it’s wrong. However, they don’t have the right to be rude to your staff or disruptive to the rest of your clientele. This is the point where you should intervene and ask them to leave your premises, even at the expense of not charging them for the food. It is better to lose a few dollars that to start a confrontation that makes the situation very uncomfortable for you, your employees and the rest of your clients.

Any Comments? Please let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading and happy sailing,

Jose L Riesco
jose@riescoconsulting.com
>tech-fav-1

You can find more information about restaurant marketing strategies in my website http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.

When aren’t customers good for your business?

Alexander Kjerulf

self defined as “Chief Happiness Officer” writes in his blog http://positivesharing.com/ about cases where customers are more trouble than benefit for the businesses.

He focuses his examples on the airlines industry, where thousands of people fly every day and have a few customers that are more trouble than benefit.

Mr. Kjerulf these top five reasons why business shouldn’t follow the strategy: “The customer is always right”. I will add my take on this applying his reasonings to the Restaurant industry.

1: It makes employees unhappy

Mr. Kjerulf says that business owners should always be in the employee’s side since they want to keep their employees loyal.
Of course, things are a little different in the restaurant business. Disgruntled customers mean no tips for waiters and really bad publicity (via online forums, etc.) for the restaurant.
Although I agree that you need to be loyal to your employees, and that if a customer is not reasonable and threatens any of your employees you should take always the side of your employee, I sincerely think that your employees could/would put up with any difficult customer if their demands are not unreasonable.
Happy customers are good for everybody (more tips and more referrals) and not all your clients will be pleasant and having nice personalities.

2: It gives abrasive customers an unfair advantage

The reasoning here is that abusive people get away with anything and get better treatment than nice people.
Again, I disagree here. Abusive people perhaps can bully their way once or twice; but your employees will always treat better nice clients by having extra attentions with them, engaging in personal conversation, etc., versus serving the minimum needs of nasty customers so that they don’t complain.

3: Some customers are bad for business

He has a point here. Some customers are impossible to please. Perhaps they have some mental disorders (how many people walk the streets with mental problems? Many for sure) or are just grumpy or unhappy with their lives and they share their unhappiness with everybody around them, or more specific with your staff since they probably feel superior and want to let them know who’s in control.
What can you do with these difficult customers? Well, I would suggest you to try to please them, within a reason.
However, if you see that they become aggressive or disruptive, invite them to leave your premises and tell them that you will call the police if they don’t comply.
The limit of tolerance is the point where they start bothering other clients. This is never acceptable. You can’t afford to have a few out-of-control customers spoiling everybody else’s dining experience.

4: It results in worse customer service

Mr. Kjerulf’s point here is that happier employees make happier customers. I don’t doubt this. I just think that disruptive customers are a minority and your employees should be trained to deal with them. Of course, you need to care about your employees and side with them when they are right, but you also need to care about your clients.
At the end of the day, your clients are the ones who give you the money so you need to keep a balance.

5: Some customers are just plain wrong

The example that Mr. Kjerulf gives here is about a passenger that behave like a jerk. Again this kind of behavior fits into the disruptive category that we mentioned before. This passenger, with his behavior, wasn’t only rude to the flight assistants, he was rude to the rest of the passengers and therefore this can’t be tolerated.
To conclude, your customers have the right to ask for a great dining experience in your place and should ask you to make right something that it’s wrong. However, they don’t have the right to be rude to your staff or disruptive to the rest of your clientele. This is the point where you should intervene and ask them to leave your premises, even at the expense of not charging them for the food. It is better to lose a few dollars that to start a confrontation that makes the situation very uncomfortable for you, your employees and the rest of your clients.

Any Comments? Please let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading and happy sailing,

Jose L Riesco
jose@riescoconsulting.com
>tech-fav-1

You can find more information about restaurant marketing strategies in my website http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.

Continuous Improvement Process

Japanese companies break down all their major tasks into three basic categories:

  1. Innovation is often the responsibility of the upper management
  2. Maintenance is the responsibility of the workers
  3. “Kaizen” is everybody’s responsibility

Kaizen is the process of continuous enhancement. It is the ongoing, systematic, incremental improvement of how things are done every day. We are talking about the small, almost insignificant changes that, taken one by one, don’t seem like much, but once accumulated over time, they add up to an incredible performance.

You can apply this Japanese wisdom to your restaurant.

As a restaurant owner, it is your responsibility to come up with innovative ways to run your business, to create new marketing ideas and campaigns, to do the best to outsmart your competitors, get to know your clients and offer them a unique and satisfactory experience. Remember that clients go to your place looking for an experience, if you don’t provide them to them, they will go somewhere else!

Your employees are responsible for the maintenance. They run the business on a daily basis and they have to make sure that it is conducted in the best and most professional way. The food needs to be delicious and served on time, the clients need to be treated politely and respectfully, the place needs to be clean and pleasant, etc.

So what about Kaizen? All of you, from the owner to the janitors who clean your place, can contribute to the improvement of your restaurant by caring about it and giving you feedback for improvement.

Listen to your people when they make suggestions to you. Welcome the suggestions. If they make them, it is because they care about your restaurant, because they care about you. An uninterested employee is an apathetic employee.

If everybody contributes to improving your place, small as the improvements may be individually, they will make a big impact when taken together.

From moving the position of a table to give you clients a better view, changing the soap in the bathroom so that it smells nicer; replacing the brand of bread if it is not crispy enough (or your people discover a new provider with a more delicious taste, etc.), every detail, every step that isolated won’t amount to much, it will make a world of difference when added together.

It is very difficult, (I would say impossible) to run a perfect place. Things happen, people are moody and variable.

However, making small changes, continuously improving your operations all the time, will bring you closer to a place where people will notice the difference.

Please send me your feedback at jose@riescoconsulting.com
www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Continuous Improvement Process

Japanese companies break down all their major tasks into three basic categories:

  • Innovation is often the responsibility of the upper management
  • Maintenance is the responsibility of the workers
  • “Kaizen” is everybody’s responsibility

Kaizen is the process of continuous enhancement. It is the ongoing, systematic, incremental improvement of how things are done every day. We are talking about the small, almost insignificant changes that, taken one by one, don’t seem like much, but once accumulated over time, they add up to an incredible performance.

You can apply this Japanese wisdom to your restaurant.

As a restaurant owner, it is your responsibility to come up with innovative ways to run your business, to create new marketing ideas and campaigns, to do the best to outsmart your competitors, get to know your clients and offer them a unique and satisfactory experience. Remember that clients go to your place looking for an experience, if you don’t provide them to them, they will go somewhere else!

Your employees are responsible for the maintenance. They run the business on a daily basis and they have to make sure that it is conducted in the best and most professional way. The food needs to be delicious and served on time, the clients need to be treated politely and respectfully, the place needs to be clean and pleasant, etc.

So what about Kaizen? All of you, from the owner to the janitors who clean your place, can contribute to the improvement of your restaurant by caring about it and giving you feedback for improvement.

Listen to your people when they make suggestions to you. Welcome the suggestions. If they make them, it is because they care about your restaurant, because they care about you. An uninterested employee is an apathetic employee.

If everybody contributes to improving your place, small as the improvements may be individually, they will make a big impact when taken together.

From moving the position of a table to give you clients a better view, changing the soap in the bathroom so that it smells nicer; replacing the brand of bread if it is not crispy enough (or your people discover a new provider with a more delicious taste, etc.), every detail, every step that isolated won’t amount to much, it will make a world of difference when added together.

It is very difficult, (I would say impossible) to run a perfect place. Things happen, people are moody and variable.

However, making small changes, continuously improving your operations all the time, will bring you closer to a place where people will notice the difference.

Thanks for reading and happy sailing,

Jose L Riesco
© Riesco Consulting Inc.
www.twitter.com/jlriesco
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Continuous Improvement Process

Japanese companies break down all their major tasks into three basic categories:

  • Innovation is often the responsibility of the upper management
  • Maintenance is the responsibility of the workers
  • “Kaizen” is everybody’s responsibility

Kaizen is the process of continuous enhancement. It is the ongoing, systematic, incremental improvement of how things are done every day. We are talking about the small, almost insignificant changes that, taken one by one, don’t seem like much, but once accumulated over time, they add up to an incredible performance.

You can apply this Japanese wisdom to your restaurant.

As a restaurant owner, it is your responsibility to come up with innovative ways to run your business, to create new marketing ideas and campaigns, to do the best to outsmart your competitors, get to know your clients and offer them a unique and satisfactory experience. Remember that clients go to your place looking for an experience, if you don’t provide them to them, they will go somewhere else!

Your employees are responsible for the maintenance. They run the business on a daily basis and they have to make sure that it is conducted in the best and most professional way. The food needs to be delicious and served on time, the clients need to be treated politely and respectfully, the place needs to be clean and pleasant, etc.

So what about Kaizen? All of you, from the owner to the janitors who clean your place, can contribute to the improvement of your restaurant by caring about it and giving you feedback for improvement.

Listen to your people when they make suggestions to you. Welcome the suggestions. If they make them, it is because they care about your restaurant, because they care about you. An uninterested employee is an apathetic employee.

If everybody contributes to improving your place, small as the improvements may be individually, they will make a big impact when taken together.

From moving the position of a table to give you clients a better view, changing the soap in the bathroom so that it smells nicer; replacing the brand of bread if it is not crispy enough (or your people discover a new provider with a more delicious taste, etc.), every detail, every step that isolated won’t amount to much, it will make a world of difference when added together.

It is very difficult, (I would say impossible) to run a perfect place. Things happen, people are moody and variable.

However, making small changes, continuously improving your operations all the time, will bring you closer to a place where people will notice the difference.

Thanks for reading and happy sailing,

Jose L Riesco
jose@riescoconsulting.com
>tech-fav-1

You can find more information about restaurant marketing strategies in my website http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.

Continuous Improvement Process

Japanese companies break down all their major tasks into three basic categories:

  • Innovation is often the responsibility of the upper management
  • Maintenance is the responsibility of the workers
  • “Kaizen” is everybody’s responsibility

Kaizen is the process of continuous enhancement. It is the ongoing, systematic, incremental improvement of how things are done every day. We are talking about the small, almost insignificant changes that, taken one by one, don’t seem like much, but once accumulated over time, they add up to an incredible performance.

You can apply this Japanese wisdom to your restaurant.

As a restaurant owner, it is your responsibility to come up with innovative ways to run your business, to create new marketing ideas and campaigns, to do the best to outsmart your competitors, get to know your clients and offer them a unique and satisfactory experience. Remember that clients go to your place looking for an experience, if you don’t provide them to them, they will go somewhere else!

Your employees are responsible for the maintenance. They run the business on a daily basis and they have to make sure that it is conducted in the best and most professional way. The food needs to be delicious and served on time, the clients need to be treated politely and respectfully, the place needs to be clean and pleasant, etc.

So what about Kaizen? All of you, from the owner to the janitors who clean your place, can contribute to the improvement of your restaurant by caring about it and giving you feedback for improvement.

Listen to your people when they make suggestions to you. Welcome the suggestions. If they make them, it is because they care about your restaurant, because they care about you. An uninterested employee is an apathetic employee.

If everybody contributes to improving your place, small as the improvements may be individually, they will make a big impact when taken together.

From moving the position of a table to give you clients a better view, changing the soap in the bathroom so that it smells nicer; replacing the brand of bread if it is not crispy enough (or your people discover a new provider with a more delicious taste, etc.), every detail, every step that isolated won’t amount to much, it will make a world of difference when added together.

It is very difficult, (I would say impossible) to run a perfect place. Things happen, people are moody and variable.

However, making small changes, continuously improving your operations all the time, will bring you closer to a place where people will notice the difference.

Thanks for reading and happy sailing,

Jose L Riesco
jose@riescoconsulting.com
>tech-fav-1

You can find more information about restaurant marketing strategies in my website http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.

Surveys and Car Dealers

I don’t know about you, but I hate the Car Dealer Surveys.

Some months ago, my wife and I bought a new car: a Toyota Prius. The car dealer didn’t know much about the car. He told us that all the models came with a rear camera (wrong) and he even had difficulty starting the car (you just need to push a button instead of turning a key). He was a nice guy and we loved the car so we bought it anyway.

Since we had the kids with us and the purchase of a car can even dent the patience of the most dedicated Zen Monk, we left the dealership asking our sales person to prepare the paperwork for us so that we could come a couple of days later and just sign it in.

Of course, a couple of days later we showed up just to find out that the paperwork wasn’t done (he hadn’t even started it). We waited patiently (again with the kids bored and complaining) and after two more hours we’ve got the car. All in all, a normal car buying experience.

But now, here it’s the kick: after all was done and we sat on the car ready to leave, the smiley car dealer comes by with a Toyota survey and ask us to fill it in saying “Anything less than 5 stars is unacceptable”. Five starts means “exceeding expectations”.

Now, I am not really picky, I was ready to score as average since the service was average (actually it was probably below average) but come on! Exceeding expectations? I don’t think so (and really I don’t have very high expectations about car dealers).

So I’ve just ignored the survey (he was a nice guy after all and I didn’t want to damage his scoring) but I kept on wondering what’s the meaning of these surveys anyway?

Does really Toyota (or any other car manufacturer for that matter, since this happened to me also at Honda) think that all their dealers exceed customers expectations? What’s the game here?

I mention this anecdote because we don’t want to repeat this mistake in our restaurant business. If you ever ask your clients for feedback, ask for (and expect) genuine feedback and don’t get mad or defensive if the feedback that you get is less than optimum.

The purpose of feedback is to gather realistic information about your business so that you can improve it. By conditioning your audience about what to write in the feedback, you lose its purpose.

Ask sincerely and expect candid answers. This is the only way for you to get better and to make your place among the best in the industry.

If you only want to hear positive things, then don’t bother with a survey, have your friends talk nicely to you about your place. It won’t help you improve your business, but it will make you feel good and/or bust your self-esteem.

However, if you are serious about improving and getting better at what you are doing, then you need to confront the reality and accept the criticisms. Analyze and address all the critics. Even if they are due to a human error or a mistake, you can always thank the person giving you the feedback and either compensate them (if appropriate) or assure them that the problem or issue won’t happen again.

Also, try to see if you can find patterns in the comments. If so, this is an area that you need to focus on and improve. Again, thank the people who gave you the honest feedback, and put together an improvement plan (involve your employees in its implementation).

At the end, using feedback to improve your business is the best way to get ahead of your competitors. Unfortunately in this industry, owners often disregard honest criticism and always try to justify their actions, even if they or some of their employees were responsible for whatever wrong it happened (we are all humans, we all make mistakes from time to time) instead of using this feedback as a way to improve their processes and their employees.

And since we are talking about feedback, please feel free to send me any feedback regarding these blogs. Do you find them useful? Do you think that they are too obvious or a waste of your time? Just let me know. I won’t get mad. I promise

Thank you for reading,
Jose L Riesco
www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Surveys and Car Dealers

I don’t know about you, but I hate the Car Dealer Surveys.

Some months ago, my wife and I bought a new car: a Toyota Prius. The car dealer didn’t know much about the car. He told us that all the models came with a rear camera (wrong) and he even had difficulty starting the car (you just need to push a button instead of turning a key). He was a nice guy and we loved the car so we bought it anyway.

Since we had the kids with us and the purchase of a car can even dent the patience of the most dedicated Zen Monk, we left the dealership asking our sales person to prepare the paperwork for us so that we could come a couple of days later and just sign it in.

Of course, a couple of days later we showed up just to find out that the paperwork wasn’t done (he hadn’t even started it). We waited patiently (again with the kids bored and complaining) and after two more hours we’ve got the car. All in all, a normal car buying experience.

But now, here it’s the kick: after all was done and we sat on the car ready to leave, the smiley car dealer comes by with a Toyota survey and ask us to fill it in saying “Anything less than 5 stars is unacceptable”. Five starts means “exceeding expectations”.

Now, I am not really picky, I was ready to score as average since the service was average (actually it was probably below average) but come on! Exceeding expectations? I don’t think so (and really I don’t have very high expectations about car dealers).

So I’ve just ignored the survey (he was a nice guy after all and I didn’t want to damage his scoring) but I kept on wondering what’s the meaning of these surveys anyway?

Does really Toyota (or any other car manufacturer for that matter, since this happened to me also at Honda) think that all their dealers exceed customers expectations? What’s the game here?

I mention this anecdote because we don’t want to repeat this mistake in our restaurant business. If you ever ask your clients for feedback, ask for (and expect) genuine feedback and don’t get mad or defensive if the feedback that you get is less than optimum.

The purpose of feedback is to gather realistic information about your business so that you can improve it. By conditioning your audience about what to write in the feedback, you lose its purpose.

Ask sincerely and expect candid answers. This is the only way for you to get better and to make your place among the best in the industry.

If you only want to hear positive things, then don’t bother with a survey, have your friends talk nicely to you about your place. It won’t help you improve your business, but it will make you feel good and/or bust your self-esteem.

However, if you are serious about improving and getting better at what you are doing, then you need to confront the reality and accept the criticisms. Analyze and address all the critics. Even if they are due to a human error or a mistake, you can always thank the person giving you the feedback and either compensate them (if appropriate) or assure them that the problem or issue won’t happen again.

Also, try to see if you can find patterns in the comments. If so, this is an area that you need to focus on and improve. Again, thank the people who gave you the honest feedback, and put together an improvement plan (involve your employees in its implementation).

At the end, using feedback to improve your business is the best way to get ahead of your competitors. Unfortunately in this industry, owners often disregard honest criticism and always try to justify their actions, even if they or some of their employees were responsible for whatever wrong it happened (we are all humans, we all make mistakes from time to time) instead of using this feedback as a way to improve their processes and their employees.

And since we are talking about feedback, please feel free to send me any feedback regarding these blogs. Do you find them useful? Do you think that they are too obvious or a waste of your time? Just let me know. I won’t get mad. I promise.

Thanks for reading and happy sailing,

Jose L Riesco
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