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Chris LoCurto

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May 24, 2011

Did You Really Ask That?

From time to time I like to talk about tipping. Why? Because it’s the subject that keeps on giving. In Uhhhh, Tip Please I talk about how anyone who’s ever worked as a server tips well. You can’t help it. Once you’ve experienced what it’s like to be treated like a lower-class person by some ignorant…ok…calm down…you understand the need to never let anyone think that’s how you feel.

Anyway, that’s the reason I always tip well. In fact, I start everyone off at 20% , and you really have to mess up for me to drop from there. Even if you do, I still wonder if you’ve just had a bad day. The only thing I really don’t like is you telling me you can’t do something. Worst case, tell me that you’ll check on it, but first answer should never be no. There will always be some unreasonable requests, but you should still make the customer feel like you’re trying to accomplish it, even if you can’t.

With that in mind, last Monday night I was having dinner with a bunch of EntreLeadership attendees at a nice steakhouse. The service was really good, so I don’t want you to think I’m going to slam our guy. But as we get to the end of the meal, our server brought one check and set it down. The problem with that is we needed it split like five ways. On top of that, he never asked us what to do with the check(s), he just brought one.

I quickly apologized, ’cause I could have said something earlier and asked if he would split the check. His response was, “Ohhhhh, you want it split?” To which I said, “That would be great, thanks.” Now, I recognized by the way he answered that he didn’t want to take the time to do that. So in an attempt to not go the extra mile he said, “Hmmmm, how do you want to do that, like by percentages?” Percentages?! Seriously? “No sir, by how we came in. How did he respond? “I’ll see what I can do.” He turned and left to…see what he could do.

At this point I was thinking, “Someone’s working on his tip!” Now, again, he may have just been having a bad day. But if he had, I’m sure we would have seen it come out during the meal. And to be fair, it’s not like he was being rude or a jerk, he just wasn’t taking care of his customers at that moment. The answer should have been a quick, “Sure! Absolutely!” It wouldn’t have hurt our feelings if he would have taken responsibility for not asking in the first place.

Again, we had really good service until that moment. And it wasn’t enough for me to change my tip at all. But it sure was enough for me to write about it.

What areas are you falling short in when it comes to customer service? What about your team? Keep in mind that a happy customer will not only tip well, but most likely return for more of your amazing service.

How would you have handled this situation if you were the server? What if you were the customer?

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  • Darrin Dickey

    I generally tip well. Like you, I start at 20%. But if you treat me badly, like I can’t find you for 40 minutes to get a drink refill and finally go get my own, the numbers start dwindling quickly. However, I know these hard-working folks get very little money straight from their employer and I like that their pay is merit-based.

    I think you handled this situation correctly. The waiter didn’t. Always, always, always make your customer feel like they’re welcome. A good host (which is what a business is) should never make a customer feel like they’ve made a mistake or they’re putting the business out. Even if they are.

    I was in a BBQ joint the other day and ordered a cup of milk for my son. They gave me the cup when I paid at the register. As I was leaving, I accidentally knocked over the cup and spilled milk everywhere. (No, I didn’t cry. Thanks for asking.) I felt terrible. I was my clumsy fault. But the restaurant employees really went out of the way to make me feel like it wasn’t that big of a deal, happens all the time. And they had it cleaned up before I knew it. THAT made me feel welcome.

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      You are so correct on the, “Hey, has anyone seen my waiter?” As for the milk, that’s how you take care of people. I would lay down money that you will go back to that place. Thanks Darrin!

  • Kim Little

    It’s like a movie cliffhanger here CLo….did he separate it correctly? Did he still get the 20%? Did you leave him a copy of Quitter? What happened? :)

    • http://Chrislocurto.com Chris LoCurto

      HAHAHA!!! Yes, he did split it, and I didn’t change his tip. Like I say, you really have to screw up for me to do that. Quitter is actually a great suggestion. :-)