Buddyboy of Medway River Volunteer Fire Departments is back with another guest blog. This time it’s a reminder to be as quick to praise as you are to complain.
A little praise goes a long way. We have all suffered the odd disappointment in restaurants, sometimes even evoking an occasional complaint to the wait staff or even the manager. Having said that, the opposite is also true, even more so. When we eat out we usually get a good meal, tasty, well served, in nice surroundings. That’s generally why we go to restaurants. That’s why our favourite restaurants have become just that. It’s a fact that our positive experiences far outweigh our negative ones, meaning eating out is usually a pleasant experience for all.
So ask yourself: if you feel justified in voicing complaints when you have been let down in some way, are you equally ready to show appreciation when things are done well?
Imagine being the chef at the rear producing meal after tasty meal, taking care that everything is just right when it leaves the kitchen, only ever to see soiled plates coming back for washing. We expect chefs at any level of expertise to take pride in their work. I often wonder what drives them day after day when so little positive feedback permeates from the customer to the kitchen.
The same goes for the wait staff, male or female, low end or haute cuisine. We expect them to be attentive, but not intrusive, clean, smart, anticipative of all our needs, and cheerful. Our contact with the wait staff is far more direct than with anyone else working in the restaurant, hence positive feedback is so much easier. How often do we take a moment at the end of our meal to look the wait staff in the face and voice appreciation for good service?
Customer appreciation is traditionally shown through tipping at the end of a meal, more so in some countries than others, but human nature is such that a sincere word of appreciation for a job well done goes a long, long way. We all know how much further we are prepared to go when working for an appreciative boss. Wait staff and chefs are no different.
As for me, I find being a customer with a positive attitude to restaurant staff serves me exceptionally well, even for purely selfish reasons. My wife and I always ask for good wait staff by name. “Is Shane working? May we be seated at his section, please?” The message is not lost on the other staff either. When the waiter asks “How is everything?” an occasional comment like “This fish has got to be the tastiest I’ve had in a long time. Please let the chef know how great it is for me,” evokes smiling appreciation. And at the end of a meal as we are leaving, I make it a habit to say something like “Thanks for looking after us so well” to the waiter.
The payoff? We have great relationships with staff at many restaurants, all of who bend over backwards to make our meals the best they can be. I was recently at a restaurant with my wife ordering our meal which, in my case, was liver and bacon, a favourite of mine. For a vegetable I was offered French fries, rice, pasta or roasted potatoes. “Is there any mashed potatoes?” I asked. “No, I’m sorry,” was the reply, so I settled for French fries. When the meal was served, there it was with mashed potatoes. “I thought there were no mashed potatoes,” I commented with surprise. “We made them specially for you,” was the response. Did that meal ever taste good!
I find it interesting that there are multiple postings on the web about how to complain in restaurants, how to write a letter of complaint to a company, how to do all manner of negative things and get results. How to compliment people, how to show appreciation for a job well done has a relative dearth of information. Next time you are eating out, try a sincere compliment for the good food, or a sincere thank you at the end for the good service. It pays dividends as well as making you feel good yourself. A little praise goes a long way.