Customer Friendly or Innkeeper Friendly?
I apologize for the blury photo. The lighting in “Juanita Greenberg’s” in Charleston, South Carolina, wasn’t conducive for taking photos with my BlackBerry. Nevertheless, I wanted to capture this image.
The bottom of the menu says, “No separate checks for parties of 6 or more.” What struck me as unfortunate about that policy is that the time when separate checks are needed MOST is when there is a large group of people. Because it’s challenging for most wait staff to divide a check among several different parties, especially when no one raises their hand to offer to pay for the common appetizers, a no-separate-checks policy prevents the hassle. It’s a policy that is not customer friendly, but rather waiter-friendly. That’s backwards, in my opinion.
The policy should say, “For parties of 6 or more, please let your waiter know in advance if you want separate checks at the table.” Even if the patrons don’t let the waiter know about their wish for separate checks, the waiter should do it anyway. Most people have more plastic than cash in their wallets. It’s not as hard as it used to be to divide a bill among many parties.
And how does this relate to innkeeping? One thing I have certainly learned about innkeeping is how hard it is. Because it can be so hard – mostly due to have a small or no staff and attempting to be everything to the guests – innkeepers often set ground rules. These ground rules are usually stated on the policies page of your web site and/or in the confirmation email sent to guests. And these ground rules often keep you from losing your sanity.
Nevertheless, I encourage innkeepers to take a fresh look at your policies, rules, procedures, etc. and determine which are more innkeeper-friendly than guest-friendly. I know that you don’t want to be a doormat to your guests, but take a look at things from the guest perspective and see if there’s any room for change. No changes might be necessary, but you could do your customers a favor by thinking critically about them from time to time. Ask a friend who is NOT an innkeeper to take a look and offer feedback. Gaining a fresh perspective can help your business stay fresh and appealing.
**Due to the transfer of the blog, in order to preserve the comments from the old site they have been copied here…