I worked in the restaurant industry for seven years, so I think I can speak with some authority when I say what all of you already know: customers are really, really annoying. For starters, they are constantly bothering you with endless, aggravating questions like “Can I have more Sprite?” or “What would you recommend?” Then they drop their silverware on the floor and expect you to pick it up for them. They don’t always eat everything you went to all that trouble to make, and most of them just leave all their plates scattered around the table instead of stacking them neatly. I could go on…but I think I’ve made my point, so why not keep your restaurant empty all the time?
Here are some tips to do just that.
Idea #1: Abandon the host stand! Nothing will let your customers realize how unwelcome they are quite like an empty host stand. Make sure the “Please Wait to Be Seated” sign is prominently displayed, and also tell your other employees to walk back and forth in full view of the waiting customers without making any effort to seat them. The best of you will tell your host or hostess to return to the host stand, look at the waiting customers, and then go away again for no reason without having spoken to them. They say silence is golden, but it also lets people know that you wish they’d find another restaurant. If you have a drive-thru, make sure nobody is stationed there. After all, the whole point of having a drive-through is so that people don’t come into your restaurant and start making a mess, so just ignore them until they drive through and onto a different restaurant.
Idea #2: Bombard your customers with too many specials! A few months ago I went to a restaurant that featured (I’m not lying here) 16 different specials, each with (I am lying here, but only barely) 47 ingredients. Our waitress recited all of them to us and only had to look at her notes once. She had an incredible memory, but it didn’t matter much because by the time she got to the 16th special I had already blacked out.
Idea #3: Ignore your bathrooms! For gas station owners, the quality of the bathrooms is the single most important factor in determining a customer’s satisfaction (or lack thereof). I’m not sure where it falls for restaurants, but it’s got to be in the top five. Which means you should only clean your bathrooms if a pipe bursts. I’ve seen restaurant restrooms so atrocious that they should come equipped with a sign saying, “Sorry – We’re Open”. To get started, remember two things: trash cans should only be emptied when it is physically impossible to shove any more paper into them; and toilet paper should be as thin and abrasive as possible.
And there you have it. These tricks should get you started on the path to the sweet bliss that only comes when customers stop expecting you to refill your salt shakers for them. Seriously, can’t they do anything for themselves? Besides, think of all the money you’ll save on your food costs when there’s no one to cook food for!