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Posted By: BizNewbie
Sunday, 26 March 2006, at 12:04 p.m.

In Response To: Re: *ALL* restaurants suck (Tonya)

Hi everybody,
Thank you for psoting your insights and observations. Margaret, Dennis and Jim, thasnks for giving your insight into the business. Anyway, a few clarifications.
1) My title said why SOME small busnisses deserve to fail, definitely not all. I also stated that I was somewhat venting, and that my sample was biased based on my recent negative experiences. Go figure that was construed to mean ALL small businesses meed to fail. Perhaps my wording needed to be more precise. I have had many great experiences shopping at local businesses.

2)Since Bluto thinks he can expound about my shopper-mentality based on a couple of posts I would like to comment towards this. I am actually a business owner's dream shopper. I rarely complain, I am understanding and very patient. For example, if I see a waiter/waitress is extremely busy and somewhat overworked, I will tell him/her not to worry about me, if I need anything I will just get his/her attention. They are usually very greatful. If a problem does occur, either with a product or service I always seek a mutually beneficial solution to the problem. I am a relatively hassle-free shopper. HOWEVER, if I am mande to feel like I am being done a favour to be allowed to shop in the particular business, or I am completely ignored, then I am not a happy camper.

3) I am always careful to separate the problem of a "bad employee" from "store policy/customer service strategy". IOW, I am not going to ostracize an establishment because of the actions or words of a single employee. But as a shoper and a former customer-service employee, it is usually apparent whether the issue is a employee or owner/store one.

4) My perpective comes from: working in retail for a numbers of years; working in a big-box store for 6 months; working as a server in a restaurant; owning, in the past, 2 small home-based businesses. So I HAVE been on the other end and I DO know what businesses have to put up with.

5) I feel like someone who has been abused by different family members and then is told "shut-up not everyone is like that, don't you know they were probably under-stress, keep it to yourself, telling other about your experiences is a bad thing.".

Maybe this stance, distilled from my prior post will help clarify:

1) Depite all the books, seminars and gurus spouting the need for a small business in a competitive market to establish strong customer service strategies, and despite the promotion of giving "outstanding service that will exceed their expectations and have them screaming from the rooftops and running back for more"- I feel this much like a self-empowerment seminar, many get excited about it but not many actually use it to change their lives. To put it another way, most small businesses have not given me any reason(s) to shop there instead of big-box/department stores. I rarely shop for price and will gladly support a smaller place if I am appreciated as a customer.

2)I have had mostly good, and some bad experiences at big box stores. The bad times were usually attributed to some minimm-wage pt-time employee who didn't really care. However, I think what ADVANTAGE these places have over smaller businesses is that they have a well-planned customer service strategy. Sure it is simply to suck $$ out of your pocket, but having a good ingrained strategy usually weeds out bad employees, and allows situations to be rectified properly. Please note that I understand (been there, done that) that some customer DO have chips on their shoulders and that you can't please 'em all, as some do not want to be pleased.

Finally, I will give one more restaurant story that happened 2 weeks ago and a 6-month old, family owned buffet. I have been going there for about 4 months and have enjoyed the food there. I went last time with my room-mate who had not yet been. We were in the middle of our meal when he stopped chewing. There was a piece of plastic in his food. Upon further inspection, we looked thorugh his food and found small pieces of plastic. He DISCREETLY went to one of the family members and pulled them away from the customers' ears. He quietly told him that there were plastic pieces in the chicken dish and he had better discard it quickly. So what was his reward? The owner became very defensive and said (paraphrasing), "I know people like you, you think you can pull this on me?". "Do you think I am stupid?". I calmly went over (as a regualr, repeat and recognized customer) and explained to him that this was actually true there are pieces in the food so for safety's sake the batch should be dumped. Well so much for our attempted discretion, to make long story short, he yelled at my roommoate in front of the customers and then told him to never come back. He had the nerve to say it was ok for me to stay! I calmly waited for the older (he is the son, in his 30s) mother to come from the kitchen, and I explained what had happened and that she had just lost 2 valuable customers. She apologized profusely. I simply told her that I don't hold her accountable for her son's actions and that we tried to be discreet about it. I told her I most likely will come back when her son is not working. i have not been back.
Now, contrast this with the time I went to East Side Mario's (about 3 years ago), and I found a piece of broken glass in my drink (one of the waitresses "scooped" the ice with a glass instead of properly scooping the ice into the glass, that glass was later scooped up in my drink. Well after a non-chalant response from the server, I asked for the manager. Not only was my meal and my companion's on the house we both received free meals for our next visit -without even asking. Sure they were liable-conscious and trying to bribe us, but I was not made to feel like an unwanted customer. I have being going ever since.

Wel if you read all of this long-winded rant, please feel free to respond.

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