Marketing your business isn’t restricted to emails, newsletters, advertising, commercials, event sponsorship, etc. Whether the discussion is about marketing for a corporation or marketing for an entrepreneur, most of the rules apply equally to any business venture.
Recently, a discussion broke out on Facebook with regards to tipping waiters and waitresses. The initial statement was that diners should remember that waiters and waitresses rely on gratuities to pay the rent since their wages fail to provide enough income to pay for the necessities of life.
A gratuity, however, isn’t the same thing as an auto gratuity. Even the IRS has acknowledged that fact, and has made provisions to address auto-gratuities that are slapped onto restaurant bills.
Now I don’t disagree with the fact that minimum wage is a difficult way to make a living.
Back in 2009, a couple in Philadelphia found themselves in the back of a police car after they refused to pay an 18% gratuity tacked onto their bill. The owner admitted that the wait for food had been unusually long, justifying the unusually long wait to the fact that the restaurant was busy that night. And the owner alleged that the restaurant was willing to comp the food to compensate for the unusually long wait — a claim the couple denied happened.
Here’s the strange thing about the owner’s claim that the restaurant offered to comp the food that night. The bill was $73.87 and the demanded-by-the-restaurant gratuity was $16.35. Let’s see now.
Food that is ordered and consumed and worth nearly $75 forgiven by the restaurant for bad service
Gratuity of just over $16 — a gratuity being a “gift” to the waiter or waitress — withheld for bad service
Most restaurants would accept that, due to the fact the service was poor on the night in question (as admitted by the owner), no gratuity was left. They would see this as an opportunity to improve efficiency in the restaurant, and to provide value-added incentives to make up for that poor customer experience, and encourage return visits despite that poor customer experience.
When the case went to court, the charges were dropped.
The focus on this article isn’t really about whether restaurants should charge an automatic gratuity on bills or whether diners must leave their waiter or waitress a tip to ensure they aren’t arrested by the police as they leave the restaurant. It’s about customer service.
Some of the most influential marketing that happens in business is what customers share with their circle of influence about their customer experience when doing business with you, whether you’re a corporation or an entrepreneur.
As in the case of the restaurant incident in Philadelphia in 2009, know what the rules are and understand why it’s important to meet — or even exceed — customer expectations. And you have to know when to cut your losses if you’ve failed to meet those customer expectations, understand how certain actions can alienate your customer base, and be willing to stand up for your rights when they’re breached by customers (the very few times they are breached).
If a restaurant is going to have diners charged with theft for refusing to leave a gratuity, then restaurant owners, managers and staff have to agree to leave themselves open to the possibility of charges of breach of contract of either service or product, because they are substandard at the time.
It’s important to keep in mind that a similar mindset is important to anyone engaged in business. Know and understand both sides of the coin, and do right by your customers and by you.