Service of Extras

September 3rd, 2015

Categories: Bonus, Radio, Restaurant

Smoothie 1

Morning radio talk show co-host Todd Schnitt recently shared his frustration when he was unsuccessful at persuading the server at a well known NYC juice bar chain to top off his $8 smoothie with what was left in the blender container. He noticed the container in a lineup by the sink. Its fate was to be washed after its contents were tossed. He’d taken a big sip of his drink to make room.

Len Berman, his co-host on the WOR 710 morning program and the news director, Joe Bartlett, asked Todd if he’d gotten what he’d paid for. He said, “Yes.”  So that’s it then, they concurred: They didn’t feel he should have received a bonus.

smoothie 2Executive producer Natalie Vacca agreed with Len and Joe and added that had she managed the branch, she’d have suggested that staff use the extra for samples to bring in new customers. Someone observed that at Starbucks there’s little if any leftover and that the manager at the smoothie place should better train the staff in portion control to avoid costly waste.

According to Yelp, there are no more Brigham’s luncheonettes in Boston though Wikipedia notes otherwise. In its heyday, when I lived in Boston, branches were sprinkled throughout the metro area. The restaurant’s milkshake/frappe was spectacular and it came in a large glass, served with  what was left in the metal blender container–the equivalent of almost another full glass of the ambrosia, my favorite being coffee or strawberry.

milkshake 2There are some businesses in which extras continue to happen. Waiters will surprise guests with a free dessert or after dinner drink. At The Perfect Pint, a pub at which I ate lunch quite often this summer, my friends and I received a free second glass of iced tea or Coke, something I’d not before experienced in NYC. [The food is terrific here as well.]  Last night we had dinner at Mckinney and Doyle in Pawling–delicious as always. My husband was adding the tip to the credit card receipt when the hostess came with a second one. She said, “We owe you $20–here’s the correct bill.” Turns out that wine is half price on Wednesday night. We welcomed the nice surprise!

In public relations, many provide extra services, such as a tweak of a client’s letter or other small project not covered in an agreement yet not big enough to upset a budget applecart.

Is a business wrong minded to give extras? Do customers appreciate them or take them for granted? Do you appreciate them?

Extra

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10 Responses to “Service of Extras”

  1. bjb Said:

    I understand that MacDonald’s requires all its potatoes to be precisely the same size in order that they can be cut precisely by machine saving labor, waste and shipping expense. (Maybe they are now all grown and genetically engineered in China?) Therefore, I can understand why the business school graduates who ran that smoothie shop might well have edicted that no customer was to be entitled to receive more smoothie than he paid for, because that’s what the smoothie chain B-school model plan called for. I can understand what happened to Todd, but it is a stupid way to go about building your customer base.

    No self-respecting French restaurant worth its salt would serve a meal without throwing in for free a special small plate of something – the “amuse throat (or mouth).” No self-respecting Italian restaurant worth its pepper would serve a meal without offering a good regular customer a Grappa “on the house.” Customers like getting something for free. It’s good for business and brings them back.

    Incidentally, I’ll endorse your good words about McKinney and Doyle. I think they serve the best food at the fairest prices in the most cordial way of any restaurant north of Manhattan, south of the Canadian border!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    bjb,

    You have the answer! There are times in which employees should never change an eyelash on instructions–a doorman who is asked not to let anyone in a tenant’s apartment unless given the OK and name of a guest by the owner, for example. There was a murder on Beekman Place in NYC last year because a doorman wasn’t doing his job. A man was shot by his son who sailed in and upstairs.

    But in a food establishment? It’s not life or death.

    I don’t go to a place because of freebies [though when I was a child, I’d plead with my mother to visit the dry cleaner she used in Connecticut during the summer where my grandfather rented a house because they gave away bubblegum]. If the food is horrible and/or the service is offhanded and sloppy, I wouldn’t care what they gave away, I wouldn’t want to go back.

  3. Donna Boyle Schwartz Said:

    Donna wrote on Facebook: Everyone likes a little something extra–and it is good “customer relations” to provide it!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    That’s what I think. That’s why I’m surprised that the morning show host who inspired this post lost three to one–his cohorts felt he should not have expected to receive a top off even though the smoothie remaining in the container was about to be tossed.

  5. Patty Raddock Said:

    More business owners need to look at their establishments from the point of view of a customer, and then I think we might see more of these little extras. I am always surprised and delighted when this occurs, and it engenders loyalty on my part. On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, my husband and I recently found a $50 gift certificate to a restaurant that had been given to us 6 or 7 years ago. We went to the restaurant and showed the manager, explaining that we had never been there and that we had just found the certificate, and smiling, he said “I’m sorry, that was purchased from the last owners. We cannot honor it.” We stayed anyway and ordered a rather expensive dinner. In the back of our minds, we thought that perhaps they would ask us if we would like a drink on the house, or maybe a dessert. NOTHING!!!! Of course, we will never return again. And now that I’ve written about it, I think I’m might copy it to Yelp and TripAdvisor and anywhere else that reviews local businesses.

  6. jeanne Byington Said:

    Patty,

    That proprietor missed a great opportunity. What a short-sighted decision. Some have an aptitude for their business and others should find another way to make a living. And if you don’t like serving people to make them happy, don’t go into the restaurant business!

  7. David Reich Said:

    I remember Brighams from visits to Boston when my sister first moved up there 40 years ago.

  8. Lucrezia Said:

    Giving an unexpected extra is always good business. Washing away the Schnitt’s extra smoothie is not only lousy business, but theft, unless it can be established that he did not pay for the entire drink. Some may argue that it’s “legal” and perhaps it is, but it’s not right, legal or no.

    Giving away the customers extra to lure others is creative, but adds insult to injury. Should that happen to me, I would cheerfully warn people away. Chances are they would find a more patron friendly establishment.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    David,

    When I was in college in Boston, the university didn’t serve dinner on Sunday night. Whenever I could I’d get a friend to go with me to Brigham’s, we’d order one milkshake and share–there was more than enough!

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    Given that the establishment couldn’t give the remaining smoothie to a food pantry, you could even argue that wasting food is shameful. No doubt somewhere a chain would have a lawyer who would have the establishment note somewhere–online, on a menu, on a wall poster–how many ounces of smoothie you get for $8, but I think that the relevant point that you and others have made wins the argument for me: To give Todd Schnitt the extra dollop would have been good business.

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