How much do the wrong words cost your business? A Business Mentor’s holiday observations!

Holiday observations of a Business Mentor

No matter where we decide to spend our main holiday each year, we always spend some time down in Dorset.  Its charm and ‘step back in time feel’, combined with the chance of some fossil hunting along the Jurassic coast, makes for a great break. This year, with so many more people taking ‘staycations’ due to Covid, has made the resorts busier than ever.

We were wise (or rather my wife was), to book our evening meals at the local restaurants in advance, anticipating the resort being busier than usual and obviously with social distancing, less tables available.  Whilst dining we have seen a lot of families approach the restaurant entrance, their eyes full of a mix of hunger and eager anticipation of the delights within.  Normally they are intercepted at the front of house, by a young member of staff who greets them with eyebrows raised and the question “have you booked?”, in a tone of voice that suggests he/she really hopes they haven’t so they can then enjoy the power of dismissing them and their stupidity in failing to book.  Where the answer was “no we haven’t”, the response from the now excited member of staff was typically a rather smug “sorry we’re fully booked” and in an effort to kill off any hope at all to the eager diners, following it up swiftly with “all night”. The family then turn away looking rather forlorn and embarrassed shuffling about, discussing where to try next.

Now as a Business Mentor, I can’t help but always observe service (or in this case lack of it) when I’m out.  In these instances, I really want to have a few minutes with the owner to point out the potential loss of business the above situation creates.  Once turned away, how many people go off and think “oh okay, we’ll book for tomorrow night then”.  No, they have been rejected, shown the door, embarrassed and I would suggest unlikely to come back to the same establishment.  So, why not coach your front of house staff to do it a different way?  Change the greeting to “hello/good evening, may I ask if you have a reservation?”, and couple it with a warm genuine smile.  If the answer is “no”, then make the response “oh I’m really sorry, we are fully booked tonight, but we could offer you a takeaway (if available), or maybe make you a reservation for another evening?”. Whilst sitting near the front of a restaurant last night we saw the owner (you can tell!), offer takeaway to a party of four in place of a table (which was gratefully accepted) and yet minutes later his young front of house girl turned aside a party of eleven with the standard “we’re fully booked….all night”!

I wonder what the owner would have said if he’d realised one of his people had potentially lost him around £200 of sales which at a margin of around 65% had cost him £130 in net profit?
Let’s say, that same girl does this just three times in an evening to a party of four – that’s twelve people a day at six days per week equates to 3,600 lost per annum which at say £25 average is £90,000 in sales or around £58,000 gross profit  which would go straight onto bottom line net profit!

All of the above is about a business’s conversion rate from enquiry to buying customer and I suggest highlights how vital it is for the owner to know exactly what their enquiry process is and regularly observe to ensure it is happening.  Time spent coaching staff in how you want them to deal with situations, like the above example, is what can make the difference between profit and loss.  Also, another tip, once you have coached the member of staff, assume that the minute you walk away the process stops, because nine times out of ten it will, so always observe, coach again, observe, until its right.

If you would like a Business Mentor and Coach to help you with the processes in your business, get in touch for a complimentary mentoring session.


Joe Hinton
Managing Director and Founder.