Ask nicely.

October 6, 2006          Comments (2)

I just had Ruby Foo’s for lunch and it was great. I couldn’t believe how crowded it was.

What impressed me most; happened at the end of the meal, though. Our very attentive waiter thanked us all. He then, explained to us what he was handing out. It was a comment and suggestion card.

It also had space for my name, phone number and email address to receive their newsletter and invitations to special events.

Now, email marketing and comment/suggestions cards are nothing new. In fact, most businesses have some sort of email marketing campaign and a way to receive feedback and ideas. If you don’t, you should!

What was amazing to me was how the waiter presented it. He said, “We really value your comments and suggestions and would love for all of you to sign up to receive our specials more so than leaving a great tip!”

More so than leaving a great tip. Wow!

What a team player. The information he is collecting is extremely valuable to the company. They are going to have all of their past and current customer’s information. When they open a new restaurant or want to run a special they’ll have a list of people who already love their product. No way better to market.

Clearly, this waiter wants as high a tip as possible. Who doesn’t? But, for the company to demand that the waiters collect this information and present it in such a way is remarkable. And for the waiter to actually ask in such a genuine way is even rarer.

How many times have you seen comment and suggestion cards just passed out, included with the check or sitting next to the register? So many times; you don’t even remember or pay attention. When was the last time you actually filled one out?

Not in a long time.

Now, imagine the owner, waiter, cashier actually asking you to fill out the card and telling you how important it is to them, in a sincere, nice way.

If you want something just ask. Nicely and sincerely.

Imagine all of that useful data.

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  1. Comments and feedback are great – and so is building an opt-in email list where your granted the right to blast out your email marketing in bulk – but requiring a waiter to present the cards in that manner – with the possibility of a thought entering the customers mind that they should forgo tipping is awful – unless of course the proprietor of this restaurant is compensating his staff in a fashion well above the typical $3.09 required of them. Not easy to do in with the low margins present in the restaurant biz. If he is paying more – than kudos – present your cards with the statement that could possibly impact his employees tips. If he is not, than he needs find a better way to deliver his comment cards. I would deliver them with the food – give your customers time to fill them out while they eat – and make them fun. I bet you get a better conversion rate.

    Comment by Brad Miller — October 6, 2006 @ 5:42 pm

  2. Brad,

    Nice to meet you. Thanks so much for comment. I’m glad someone broke the ice. I’ve been getting amazing feedback from my articles but no one is commenting.

    Anyway, let’s talk biz.

    The point of my article was how far you can get by asking someone for something nicely and genuinely. Looking someone in the eye and saying “Can you please fill this out because it’s important to me, so important, that I rather you not tip me and fill this out!” is going to and did work.

    At a restaurant like Ruby Foo’s a customer would be a complete a$$hole to not tip. Actually, you have to be a complete a$$hole to not tip well, no matter where you are, if you are getting incredible service.

    I think we can both agree that the conversion rate is going to be much higher when the waiter asks and tells you why it’s important to him than either just including the comment card with the bill, having a pile of them near the register or just passing them out.

    Now, if the conversion rate would be higher if they were passed out while the customer eats is the real question. I think there is a fine line. Customers go to a restaurant like Ruby Foo’s for the experience. That is why they pay the money.

    They don’t go there to fill out comment cards. It would have to be done in a very tactful way.

    I was impressed with how much the waiter actually cared about getting back the comment cards. It actually sounded genuine. Whether it was or not, doesn’t matter. It truly came out sincerely.

    Him saying, he values the cards more so than the tips sounded like my friend saying, “I’m never going to drink again” or “I’m never eating again.”

    You know he still wants his tip and rightfully deserves a great tip, which he got, because he worked hard for it. But, his selling the importance (comparing it with his tip) of us filling out the card made me actually do it.

    Do you agree?

    Thanks for the comment Brad. I really look forward to more great, thoughtful comments from you in the future!


    Comment by Adam Gilbert — October 9, 2006 @ 10:39 pm

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