A series of anecdotes with or without any connection to the running of a restaurant.

Friday, March 30, 2007

I am sailing...

I know, at least by sight, most of the customers who frequent my restaurants. After all, I have met some of them while they were still being carried in their mothers bellies...

Two couples have been coming to our restaurants EVERY FORTNIGHT for the last TWENTY YEARS bar holidays. Is this a record? I am honestly very flattered, but what kind of a life can it be when you know exactly what is on your agenda every other week?
What happened to spontaneity?
There are also those customers who come to celebrate their anniversary and insist on the same three-course meal every year. "I stick to what I know!"
What happened to the sense of adventure?

One has to really keep an open mind when running a restaurant. After all, if you really dissect the whole concept, it is like inviting strangers into your dining room, day in day out.
The only difference is that they are paying customers who can afford to be critical if your food or service are not up to scratch. On the other hand if they are complimentary, then it means that you've done your job.

My motto has always been:
"The customer is always right...until he's left!"

Within the confines of the restaurant, this has to be the only rule. The worst thing one can do is antagonise a customer. If I am told that a fillet is tough(!?!?) then the fillet is bloody tough and I am changing butchers in the morning!
All that unhappy customers want is to be proved right in front of their partners or guests. And all you need to do is agree with them this once and you've won them for life.

On the whole, over the last twenty two years I have met some great people, from all walks of life, all corners of the Globe... I believe that if you remember to put yourself in the customer's shoes, you are half way there.

The one single thing that sometimes spoils a good evening is when someone says:"So, where do you keep your yacht, then?"
I feel like saying: "If I had a yacht, I'd be on the Med right now, instead of listening to you!" but instead I just smile as I put the money in the till.
I think I should keep a copy of the above photo in my pocket for the next time someone asks that question.
But honestly, when things are right and the sun is shining inside my heart, my job is plain sailing...
Love it!!!
(The Royal Yacht Britannia on her way down the River Clyde. Copyright Scottish Media Newspapers)

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Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

What you've said about agreeing with the customer reminds me of a book that says you can negotiate anything you want. I'm learning a whole lot how to 'get what I want' without antagonising others. The art of 'sweet talking'.

Yes, yes, put that photo up, and when customers ask about your yatch...

30/3/07 2:26 PM  
Blogger Akelamalu said...

Ah, flattery will get you everywhere!

You own the Royal Yacht Brittania??????? :)

Caught up with the reading now and it didn't get worse!

30/3/07 2:43 PM  
Blogger Cream said...

Gigi, you cannot beat the art of sweet talking, even Bill Gates swears by it. But is that really an endorsment?

Akelamalu, I am amazed that you caught up so quickly. There have been a few ups-and-downs, I am sure you noticed... C'est la vie!

30/3/07 5:31 PM  
Blogger Akelamalu said...

I'm a fast reader!

30/3/07 6:19 PM  
Blogger lettuce said...

d'you think customers complain more often than they used to? it doesn't come easily to lots of English people, as I'm sure you know - but I think maybe we're getting better at it!

30/3/07 6:28 PM  
Blogger zoe said...

you have customers regularly visiting your resto for the past twenty years ???

come closer to me cream ... "what is your secret ingredient ?"< /whisper >

sacré bleu! mon ami, tu as scored!

30/3/07 7:48 PM  
Blogger Hayden said...

amazing. just amazing. there isn't anything I've done for 20 years except live inside the SF city limits.

not. one. thing.

slowly I'm learning to thank people effusively for things they should have done last week and have only just promised to get done. usually I find it means that they get right on it. finally. sigh.

30/3/07 10:41 PM  
Blogger Cream said...

I'd love to learn speed-reading, Akelamalu.

Lettie, the British are only now getting better at complaining because they can tell the difference between a courgette and an aubergine...
We must thank supermarkets for that. However they sometimes complain about the wrong thing though, like the lasagna being mouldy if it's made with green pasta... It just takes time.

Z, it is true, honestly.
I, personally would shoot myself if I had to go to the same restaurant every other week for 2 months let alone 20 years.
The secret ingredients are honesty and consistency.
Customers can tell whether you are bullshitting them or not and they do not like sudden and erratic changes either.

Hayden, man is a creature of habit but 20 years!!!
It takes all sorts...

31/3/07 1:57 AM  
Blogger Akelamalu said...

It comes of having too much to do and not enough time!

31/3/07 10:24 AM  
Blogger anna said...

With that kind of sweet-talking expertise, you should have been a salesman. ;)

31/3/07 10:17 PM  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

I can't remember complaining in a restaurant even if I didn't like the food? I just wouldn't because I think here most of them don't care... but I love the picture and I do always order the same things, oops I'm one of those!

1/4/07 6:26 PM  

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