This week I’m in Sydney Australia on a short holiday with my children. We’re going to great restaurants, shopping, seeing shows, museums and enjoying the summer. (Yes, Down Under it’s summertime with all the heat, rain and humidity that you can scarcely remember if you’re in the throes of winter.)
Tonight, we went to one of our all-time favorite restaurants. They don’t take reservations so if you want to avoid a wait, you have to get in line before opening and snag one of the first tables. This time, they seated us downstairs.
Our hostess showed us a table that was crammed in the last available centimeters of floor space; not an ideal start.
My chair was in front of the stairs that other diners used to get to their table and my son next to a stone column where the floor wasn’t flat, so his chair was on an angle. We were lucky. My daughter couldn’t back up her seat without knocking the people at the large table next to us and had to be mindful of the sideboard table that was placed millimeters from her head the waitstaff used to leave plates and water.
We were in the banquet zone.
Every table in the vast space was filled with parties ranging in size from 10 to 20. The waitstaff was buzzing around, refilling water, bringing food, and didn’t even glance in our direction long enough to make eye contact.
When I got up to find our hidden bottle of sparkling water that I thought I spied on the sideboard, someone noticed me. Our waiter’s hands were full of dirty dishes from other tables, but he apologized that he forgot to bring our bottle to the table so we could have more water. He also offered to box up our food to take home. Great. We were ready.
Eventually, one of the hostesses that was running around the floor brought us our check. Too bad nobody noticed my desire to pay, which I did fifteen minutes late. We left without our leftovers.
What Can Bad Restaurant Service Teach You About Your Customers?
Businesses, especially growing businesses, do it all the time. They ignore the small customers and put most of their attention on their largest. The small customers decide that they’re not appreciated and deserve to work with someone who values their business.
It all comes down to your business strategy. Do you want only big accounts or will your business be built on repeat sales to individuals? Figure out your answer before you decide to keep your options open because everyone is your ideal client – they’re not.
This restaurant forgot that they have an entire floor of people, one flight of stairs above us, at tables of two, three and four. Yes, it’s holiday time, and the demand for banquets is high but come February, it won’t be the same.
Maybe you don’t have a business, but you still have a leadership strategy. I’ll bet you have big-wigs in the company where you work. Ask yourself: are you giving the people above you more of your time and attention than the people on your teams?
In your family, as a parent, are you giving all of your attention to one child and ignoring the others who are “doing well” and don’t “need” as much from you? It doesn’t mean that they don’t want it.
Here’s the key lesson you need to know about where you focus your energy:
People want to feel wanted, valued and well cared for regardless of their account size. If you don’t want your current customers, be honest about your target or the way you work instead of getting a reputation that’s not the one you’re craving.
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