Thursday, May 17, 2012

How process killed a raving fan!

I love my food, wine and restaurants with great atmosphere. One such is Porteno in Surrey Hills. Great Spanish food, fabulous atmosphere, excellent wine lists and rather polished looking staff.
I have been a regular at this establishment and enjoyed many a wonderful night out – a raving fan. However a recent experience has left me rather disappointed and vowing never to return.

What happened?
Well I am taking a group of 10 business owners out for dinner in June and Porteno fitted the bill in terms of food, location, atmosphere and budget.

So we make the call and explain that we will most probably have between 8-10 diners and because I am a regular and know their menu quiet well we would like a table downstairs and order of the al-a-carte menu for food and wine.
One would have thought that the answer would be that’s great, lets confirm details and we look forward to seeing you on the night.

Quite the opposite, phone calls were exchanged over a number of days debating firstly that any bookings over 7 required us to have a set menu, tables were not readily available downstairs but if we went upstairs the menu would be different again. The set menu cost was $85 per head plus wine.
Now I know that there is no way the food was going to cost me $85 per head from the al-a-carte menu. We explained to the staff that we did not want a set menu and that we would be ordering wine upon arrival.

After several conversations it came to light that the owners had created a policy that clearly stated that anyone over 7 had to have the set menu of $85.From the customers prospective this policy was designed to maximise the spend on the night. Not to ensure that we had a great night at a reasonable price point.
Nothing like being told what you are going to eat just because you have 7 or more people at a dinner!

The staff we not given the ability to change the policy and were quiet happy to lose the booking. A little arrogant perhaps!
Interesting not only have they lost a booking of potentially 10 diners on the night, but a regular customer, potentially 9 new customers and with the power of social media you also now know and will make a choice of whether you go to Porteno or not. It certainly creates a question in your mind doesn’t it?

Can I suggest that perhaps you review the processes in your business from the clients prospective; are they designed to suit you or them? Are your people trained to offer over and above the expected levels of service? Do they have the ability to change the process without any risk to the businesses and ensure that you keep clients for life, retain raving fans and most importantly don’t lose business?