As I have already mentioned, poor service is usually not an isolated incident – just one event perpetrated by just one employee. No, it is usually a system or culture that is off kilter, sometimes stemming from a leadership style that is ineffective, or cost control measures that ‘unexpectedly’ backfire.
I recently worked with an owner who provided a a perfect example of the latter. Knowing that labor is one of its largest expenses, the business looks for ways to cut shift costs to the bone. So during slow periods, maybe just one person is scheduled in the dining room, covering greeting new guests, answering telephones, serving, and maybe even bartending. Not a problem if there are only three tables, but with only one server on, critical mass is quickly reached, and it only takes one or two more parties to turn adequate service into poor service. At this point, the customer who is already there, the potential customer and the new customer all suffer equally. The phone doesn’t get answered, (the potential guest makes reservations elsewhere), new guests wait too long to be seated, (they don’t feel welcomed or confident in the business – or may even leave), the existing diners watch their food cooling in the window while their server is busy at another table (and begin to get annoyed). There is the very real possibility that each of those individuals has now been lost forever as a customer.
It seems to me that such operators are gambling against themselves. They are willing to ‘bet’ that business will be slow and staff accordingly, which veritably insures that their business will continue to be slow! HA! Now that’s clever!