Even Gerry Can Be An Idiot Sometimes!
Gerry Harvey showed he is just like any other business owner this week by reportedly suggesting that customers should be happy to pay more money for goods because it will keep other Australians in work. While this may be true, what Gerry failed to realise was that the vast majority of people don't give a damn about employment statistics in Australia when they are buying their consumable commodities.
The customer is only interested in ONE THING and that is "What's in it for ME!" (WIIFM) They are not interested in what's in it for their neighbours or Australians, or Australia or the employment statistics and they are certainly NOT interested in what's in it for Gerry.
As a business owner you have to realise that your guests only patronise your place as long as you are fulfilling a need that they have. Forget loyalty. Loyalty only exists while you "engineer it" and that means creating reasons for them to come to your restaurant and not the competitions. I know this sounds harsh but it's the truth.
Think about businesses in Qld that have been flooded and are now closed, do you think their customers will sit outside their doors pining, waiting for them to reopen or will they move on? And if they find a new place to dine that they enjoy, will they switch back to their original place out of loyalty? Come on get real... they will only switch back if the original place re-engages with the customer and offers them great reasons to come back and get their needs met once again. If that place meets that WIIFM condition.
Your customers are no different, they are not interested in your needs, your financial issues, staff issues, the government's latest red tape nightmare or your happiness - they are only interested in themselves. If you doubt this go u there today and double your prices and tell everyone its because you want to pay your staff better wages. It won't take long for that experiment to yield results - ask Gerry!
What this debacle also taught was a great lesson about "consumer behaviour"... Lets face it a Sony® 52" plasma TV is still a Sony® 52" plasma TV no matter where it comes from. The enjoyment of that purchase takes place when the thing is set up and working in the home not when the purchase is being made. Gerry sells commodities and that means people can shop around and select based on the obvious criteria price. This is why I often urge restaurant owners to not have menu items that are simply commodity descriptions; a sirloin is a sirloin is a sirloin. It's easy to compare between places right? Just like a cup of coffee is a cup of coffee this is until Starbucks® re-christened it a "Grande!" Yes it's about the brand but it's also about getting away from the ability for customers to shop around and price shop on that commodity.
Some Good News...
In our industry we are very fortunate that we also have the opportunity to "sell the experience" of dining not the food commodity. What is amazing is that most restaurateurs pay little or no attention to this aspect of the business when any survey you look at reports that poor customer service is the number one thing that causes customers to go elsewhere. A massive 68% of people who switch to competition report that they do so because of "Perceived indifference to them by the business owner or staff". That's "Perceived Indifference" so it might be that you aren't indifferent to them but they perceive that you are!
So what are you doing to make sure that your staff are ticking all the right customer service boxes? Are you training them, having REGULAR staff meetings, do you have specific detailed processes in place from the front door opening to lights out - and everything that happens in between? If the answer is no, then aren't you being a little indifferent to customer service? If you want help on any of these issues please call us -we can help you! We have training and coaching on all of these subjects.
It can't be ignored that Gerry Harvey makes money by taking advantage of the global marketplace - importing cheap goods from overseas to sell here in Australia. For him to appear to be telling people they shouldn't access that same global marketplace for their own interests was naive at best. But what appeared to shock Gerry more than anything was the speed and ferocity by which he was slapped for making such a statement.
Well this is the world of Facebook and Twitter - this is the social network and that's a good lesson too. If you have a message to get out there and you want to do it fast - then this is a clue.
To Gerry, a tip, if you want to talk business talk to other business owners, we'll listen and even sympathise but don't do it in public the response is not pretty - but I suppose you know that now. To everyone else - same rules apply and don't dare do it on Twitter or facebook either - little brother is watching you!