Friday, May 12, 2006

Suggestive Selling Taken Too Far in Local Restaurants

During visits to two local restaurants recently, Linda and I have noticed an unusual new trend.

It's been customary now for several years and certainly good business practice for the manager and owner to make the rounds in the dining room greeting diners and inquiring about the meal and service. I am sure most diners appreciate the fact that the management/ownership make an effort to visit with their customers and seek out their feedback.

In two out of my last three visits though I've noticed a strange new phenomenon. First, a waitress at Chili's last weekend and then tonight the owner of a new local restaurant that goes by the name "1999"; stopped by our table as we were finishing our meal and preparing to ask the waitress to prepare the check.

The waitress at Chili's ask us, "How was everything?" Strangely, before I could muster an answer and within a split second of asking the question in almost the same breath, she asked a second question, "Fine?"and then abruptly walked away without waiting for me to answer.

Tonight the owner at 1999 was making his way through the dining room and, as he was walking by our table, he asked the following question in the most insincere manner I've ever experienced, "How was the meal?" and without breaking stride and with barely a glance in our general direction, he answered that question with a second question, "Fine?" and kept right on walking.

I'm sorry, but that's taking the whole suggestive selling routine a little too far. It's apparently now the "thing"to do in the restaurant business to ask questions you really don't want to know the answer to, and to avoid any possible chance that the customer might actually want to provide a thank you, or a positive comment about how much they actually did enjoy the meal and service.

These attempts to "avoid" actually listening to me, tarnished two otherwise positive dining experiences.

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