Posted by: drewdice | June 21, 2010

What is the rush?

Life moves fast these days. Our friend, Ferris Bueller, was right when he said that life moves so fast that if we don’t pay attention, we might actually miss it. Technology is changing by the minute; research tells us that over 40% of what is learned in college today will be outdated by the time freshmen graduate. There is one place, though, that is designed for us to hit the pause button and just relax: the dinner table.

So, why then, is it that when we eat at restaurants in the U.S., the servers are always rushing us away from the table and out the door? Recently, JoAnn and I were in Paris, and one of the most enjoyable parts of the trip was just relaxing at the sidewalk cafes or restaurants, enjoying the culture, the passersby, the food and most importantly, our time together. Sure, you might say, we were on vacation, with no work pressure or stress, no chores to do, blah, blah, blah. I get it, but the reality is that those things are always going to be there anyway, so, why not take some time to just enjoy the company of our friends, family members, spouses, you get the point…

I cannot remember the last time I had a meal in the States when the server did not quickly clear the plate of the person(s) who finished eating first. Not only is that insanely rude (both to the person who has finished, and the person still eating), but certainly does not make me want to sit, relax, enjoy the atmosphere of the establishment, oh, and by the way, SPEND MORE MONEY. I don’t get it. Why would I endorse a restaurant to my friends, when I know they will get rushed out the door, just like I did?

I get it. Table turnover is where restaurants make money. That is surely one strategy, and they need to turn the tables. At the same time, I can’t help but believe that if a restaurant gives such great service, and creates an environment where people want to come, stay, enjoy, and spend, that these people would acutally bend their schedules to come to the restaurant, even if it is a bit more inconvenient. I know I’ve done it; wouldn’t you if the place and the experience were just that good??

Growing up, my mom always said that the dinner table was time for our family to spend together; talking, laughing, sharing and being, well, a family. I still carry that vision with me, and think businesses are missing the boat on creating something really unique by not capturing the essence of those family values. The money is still there to be spent; massive turnover at the expense of the customer experience is not the only way to build a successful business.

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