Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Restaurant Culture:
What a Difference a Decade Makes

Earlier this week, I received an email that I believed to be just another random chain email, although once I started reading it, I became very intrigued. After I finished reading, I thought it couldn't be 100% true, but it made a lot of sense nonetheless. As it turns out, this email has now gone viral... from an anonymous Craigslist post to viral. With that said, we do have to be wary of an anonymous Craigslist post. But seeing that the post has gone viral, it means that there is some substance to it, and it might just be worth talking about. So here we go:

Essentially, an owner of a New York City restaurant was becoming increasingly concerned over some negative reviews and comments via social media. The restaurant had never received so much negative feedback and the owner, who felt that the restaurant had not changed much in the last 10 years, was very curious as to why. So he went as far as reviewing security footage from a weekend in 2004 and compared that footage to the same weekend in 2014. What he studied on the footage and the statistics that came from it were very interesting. At a minimum, very telling of how much has changed in just 10 years... 

Technology has changed the way we do everything, and for some restaurants, it's a blessing... for others, a curse. But perhaps the crusade against customer awareness has been born. I don't know? What I do know is that there is some substance to this study, but as a business you either deal with it or you don't. The ones that do will survive. The ones that don't, won't! In all the articles I read, what I found from USA Today was, in my opinion, summed up the best by one New York City restaurant owner, and I couldn't agree more:

"It's cultural," she adds, noting that the technology is not going away, so restaurateurs will simply have to adapt. For Lozano, the most important thing is simple courtesy — from both restaurants and their guests. That may strike a nerve with some customers, who expect restaurants to accommodate their every whim, but he's committed to the principle. "If we can be courteous, you can be courteous," he says. "Yes, it's a business, but you should just be courteous." 

Smartphone or no smartphone, it really is that simple.

The seating process:
2004: Customers walk in. They get seated and are given menus, out of 45 customers 3 request to be seated elsewhere.
2014: Customers walk in. Customers get seated and are given menus, out of 45 customers 18 requested to be seated elsewhere.

2004: Customers on average spend 8 minutes before closing the menu to show they are ready to order. Waiters show up almost instantly takes the order. Food starts getting delivered within 6 minutes, obviously the more complex items take way longer.
2014: Before even opening the menu they take their phones out, some are taking photos while others are simply doing something else on their phone (sorry we have no clue what they are doing and do not monitor customer WIFI activity).

7 out of the 45 customers had waiters come over right away, they showed them something on their phone and spent an average of 5 minutes of the waiter's time. Given this is recent footage, we asked the waiters about this and they explained those customers had a problem connecting to the WIFI and demanded the waiters try to help them.

Finally the waiters are walking over to the table to see what the customers would like to order. The majority have not even opened the menu and ask the waiter to wait a bit... Total average time from when the customer was seated until they placed their order 21 minutes.

2004: Out of 45 customers 2 sent items back that where too cold we assume (given they were not steak we assume they wanted the item heated up more). Waiters keep an eye out for their tables so they can respond quickly if the customer needs something. Customers are done, check delivered, and within 5 minutes they leave.
2014: Food starts getting delivered within 6 minutes... 26 out of 45 customers spend an average of 3 minutes taking photos of the food. 14 out of 45 customers take pictures of each other with the food in front of them or as they are eating the food. This takes on average another 4 minutes as they must review and sometimes retake the photo.

9 out of 45 customers sent their food back to reheat... 27 out of 45 customers asked their waiter to take a group photo. 14 of those requested the waiter retake the photo as they were not pleased with the first photo. 

...Given in most cases the customers are constantly busy on their phones it took an average of 20 minutes more from when they were done eating until they requested a check. Furthermore, once the check was delivered it took 15 minutes longer than 10 years ago for them to pay and leave.

Length of stay:
2004: Average time from start to finish: 1:05
2014: Average time from start to finish: 1:55

No comments:

Post a Comment