A real life Basil Fawlty

Offering your customers too much choice can have a negative effect on sales, and on relationships, as I found yesterday at a pub lunch. A group of us had booked lunch for 12.30 – 1pm to coincide with the end of a hill walk. We arrived at 12.40, ordered drinks and were directed to our table. This very small pub was offering a choice of 3 Sunday roasts, a full menu and a specials board. We made our selections then had to wait over an hour for most of the meals to be served. Three people were served within half an hour so they had finished before the rest of us had our food. One of the group asked the landlord whether we would soon be served and, to our surprise, he became very angry. He said that, if we had arrived on time, there would have been no problem and that he was having to serve smaller tables first. He said he would get the chef to have a word with us, which sounded more like a threat than a promise! I think we all felt aggrieved but it was too late to go elsewhere – we were tired and very hungry!

When the food finally arrived it was good but none of us felt like ordering desserts and we left shortly after eating. Most of us had dogs in cars and felt under time pressure anyway.

Three points came from this:
1. Don’t over stretch yourself. A limited menu would have been perfectly acceptable and less stressful to deliver.
2. Try to foresee problems before they arise. A plate of bread and an apology would have appeased us.
3. A Basil Fawlty approach is not so funny in real life. Blaming your customers is not an option if you want them to return – and to recommend you.

I don’t envy those in food service. It is stressful as we’ve seen on many fly on the wall documentaries. As we paid our bill and left, we apologised to the landlord for putting him under pressure which took the wind out of his sales – but will we go back? Trip Advisor shows this was not a one off.

If you would like help to create products and services that you can deliver without stress, and at a profit, give us a call. 01743 236631. Funding may be available.

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