What Can We All Learn From the Restaurant Business?

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with Austin Texas Homes, LLC 453249

  We took the kids to a restaurant today for lunch after church, and although this particular place has been a mainstay for the Crouch family for awhile and my wife was excited about going there, today's experience was lackluster at best.  I will probably devote an entire post to this later in the week and I will name it then, but the subject of this post might make it distracting.  Suffice it to say that there were a couple of things that came up both during our meal and as a result of our conversation that made me think of writing this post.  I promise you that I will get around to the lesson if you bear with me.

 

 First of all, I ordered one of their large hot dogs with a side of fries, and I asked for cheese on the "dog" (that's heart healthy, right?).  My wife ordered the same salad that she gets probably half the time that we go there.  I hadn't had one of their giant hot dogs before, but I was very surprised when I went to pick up our order and there were two single slices of American cheese that were fully unmelted and roughly room temperature.  Yuck!  This was not what I had in mind at all.  This place offers a burger with three different kinds of melted cheese, and my wife's salad even had grated cheese on it, so I know that grated cheese exists in their kitchen. 

 

Why would they consider this acceptable?  I turned around and was about to take it back to the counter after showing it to my wife, then I spotted the manager and asked him about it.  He said that this was not really the  norm (whew!) unless I asked for that.  Of course I hadn't asked for that, nor would anyone in their right mind.  It makes it even worse to realize that I could have had the chili-cheese dog with this particular cheese.  Gross!  My wife made me laugh very hard later in the car by saying, "Oh, thanks for placing those two slices of American cheese there!  Now, I can....fold them....and place...them...gingerly...on the bun...beside my hot dog?"  The manager rectified the problem by offering grated cheddar cheese and he brought the "repaired" meal to the table himself.  Score one for the manager. 

HOWEVER...

 

Some corporate idiot had decided to change my wife's salad portion and take away the accompanying pieces of bread.  I don't know if I have seen my wife that ticked at a restaurant since we had a bad experience with a complete lack of high chair cleanliness at a Round Rock establishment (could be yet another future post).  They dramatically changed the portion and even the style of plate that it comes on now.  It used to be on a very large, square plate, and now it was on a basically normal round plate.  She couldn't even finish it previously, but today she finished it and was still hungry.  I'm sorry, ma'am, but we decided to shrink your salad in half.  The good news is that you can still pay $7.99 for it!  The reason I know that it was a corporate brainiac is that they abruptly told us, "Corporate decision.  That's how it comes now."

 

 

So, what does this have to do with real estate?  I am so glad you asked.

The restaurant manager certainly did the right thing in correcting  the issue that I had with my meal today, but it still left a bit of a smudge on the experience for me.  Things would have been fine, however, had we not had a subsequent problem with the salad, which left my wife questioning whether we would even return. 

How many times have you had real estate deals like this?  Have you had clients that were disappointed, then you fixed the problem, only to have another one surface?  If not, you either haven't been in real estate very long, or you are incredibly blessed.  The point here is this: Many times we will undergo challenges with getting transactions closed, but our clients will stick with us and even praise us if things are ultimately handled well.  In our case today, they may have lost a previously loyal customer (maybe not).  However, this could clearly have been avoided at the corporate level.   

Sometimes, we assume that our past clients will simply remain loyal to us on future sales and/or purchases.  If the service is stellar the first time, that may indeed be true.  Even if the service is perfect, though, the sheer number of licensed agents makes us much like restaurants ourselves, since there is basically an agent to be found everywhere you look.  In Austin, Texas, you can't swing your arms without hitting an agent these days (we have over 11,000 now).  If agents are this easy to find, what are you doing to retain market share in the minds of your clients?  

I am so tempted to end this post with a play on words about it serving as "food for thought", but I won't.  Instead, I sincerely hope this is something worth reading, considering, and discussing.  If so, I did my job right on this one.

Thanks for reading!

Copyright 2007   Austin TX Real Estate     Jason Crouch   All rights reserved

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If you're looking for a home in the Austin area, you can also visit my primary website at www.austintexashomes.com.  Thanks!

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Rainer
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Karen Inch
Kenmore, WA

Unfortunately there wasn't anyone else in the restaurant.  I did ask them how they could possibly mess up on all the items I ordered.  It really was beyond me. 

And, for $14 and change, it was not worth me not ever eating in their restaurant again.  I really like to go out to dinner. 

Nov 12, 2007 04:27 PM #73
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Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
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KAREN - It is certainly your decision to make, and $14 isn't a lot, unless you aren't getting any of the food you wanted in the first place.  Did they actually give you the right food when you went back?
Nov 12, 2007 04:35 PM #74
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Katerina Gasset
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services - Wellington, FL
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Jason- Congrats on your feature! Well deserved and good writing. I like how you take the every day things that happen and relate it to real estate. As for the hot dog, well, maybe that was someone telling you not to eat them anymore, one of the most unhealthy things you can eat. There, that's my nagging for tonight. Katerina
Nov 12, 2007 05:47 PM #75
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Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)
KATERINA - Thanks for the congrats.  I appreciate it.  I am happy that you like my writing style.  As for the hot dog, maybe someone was telling me not to eat it, but it didn't work - I finished the whole thing and it was delicious.  So much for the healthy meal -
Nov 12, 2007 06:23 PM #76
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Karen Inch
Kenmore, WA

Nope, I never got the right food and I didn't get my money back.  I will just have to find a place that is good at customer service.

But, I think it makes me a better loan officer because I can see things from the consumers point of view.  I don't want a customer to think I am treating them the way Taco Time treated me.

Nov 13, 2007 02:23 AM #77
Anonymous
Brian Wilson

Always enjoy your posts, Jason. This one's no exception. Thanks for the relevant, clever writing.

Brian Wilson, Zolve.com 

Nov 13, 2007 03:40 AM #78
Rainmaker
698,287
Bill Roberts
Brooks and Dunphy Real Estate - Oceanside, CA
"Baby Boomer" Retirement Planner

Jason, Food for thought? You don't write about real estate enough anymore. This one at least touched on real estate. I like you, but I miss your real estate posts.

Bill Roberts

Nov 13, 2007 04:23 AM #79
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Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)
KAREN - Keep up the good work!  This post is probably just preaching to the choir in your case.
Nov 13, 2007 06:21 AM #80
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Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
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BRIAN - Thanks for reading and for your comments, Brian.  Are you a member of AR?  I notice that you usually type in your name rather than having the autolink.  No big deal - just curious.
Nov 13, 2007 06:22 AM #81
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Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
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BILL - Sorry to hear that I am not providing enough good real estate content for your taste.  There are a limited number of topics, I suppose.  I will continue to do my best on this, but I also like writing about a variety of things.  Have a good one -
Nov 13, 2007 06:23 AM #82
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Marisa Ladd
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Austin, TX Real Estate
As a fellow Austinite, I'll be looking out for the post where you name your offender.  I'd hate to stumble upon room temperature cheese by accident!
Nov 13, 2007 08:11 AM #83
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Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
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MARISA - I will email it to you right now.  You won't even have to wait.  Thanks for your comment!  Good to see a fellow Austinite here.
Nov 13, 2007 08:28 AM #84
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Respect Realty LLC
Respect Realty LLC - Milwaukie, OR
Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate

Jason, what a wonderfully written post and clearly said from the heart. You are so right that we do things everyday that affect our future business, but what we say can be so over shadowed by our actions or are lack there of.

This restaurant decided to charge more and give less and as a past customer you are now likely not to go back. Imagine if you did that to one of your past clients and said "I'm going to charge you the same, but the service you got from me last time will be cut in half" Do you think they are ever going to use you again or refer you...I don't think so!

Nov 13, 2007 04:10 PM #85
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Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)
TODD - This was my exact point, and I am glad you liked it and fully grasped the concept.  Thanks for your compliments!  As always, your comments are right on the money.  Have a great week, buddy.
Nov 14, 2007 05:55 AM #86
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Matthew Zgonc
Aksland Real Estate - Modesto, CA
Realtor, CFS, CVS
Good point.  We are in the customer service industry.  If I don't take good care of my clients, someone else will.
Nov 14, 2007 08:59 AM #87
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Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)
MATTHEW - Thanks for reading and for commenting.  I could not agree more with you.  Taking care of our clients is incredibly important.  Have a good week!
Nov 14, 2007 09:02 AM #88
Rainer
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Vero Tabares
SymphonySEO - Baltimore, MD
You should wear a shirt: No Shoes, No Melted Cheese, NO BUSINESS! 
Nov 15, 2007 04:59 AM #89
Rainer
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Julie Neerings~Lifting Hearts ♥ Building Dreams~
Agent Referral - Salt Lake City, UT
Jason-you did your job well on this one.  First of all that is horrible that the restaraunt did that.  It's never good to go half way with anything.  When we're dealing with real estate, our clients are putting such strong faith and confidence in our abilities.  We should always give the very best service.  So with that said, I completely agree with you on this post.  
Nov 17, 2007 09:18 AM #90
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Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)
VERO - I somehow missed your comment from a couple of days ago.  I like the shirt idea.  Maybe I could do that.  Have a good one -
Nov 17, 2007 09:40 AM #91
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Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)
JULIE - Thanks for your supportive comments.  I agree - going halfway is the perfect way to put it.  I was unpleasantly surprised that day, and when our clients are unpleasantly surprised, it can directly affect our income.  I so appreciate your continued support.
Nov 17, 2007 09:42 AM #92
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