College Professor (‘Distinguished Faculty Scholar’) Schooled on Manners and Hospitality by Popular Boston Bartender

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Customer Hall of Shame

Posted: 11/13/2017

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It’s one thing to act like an asshole (perhaps under the influence) in public, but entirely another to take to the keyboard after you’ve been thrown out of a restaurant, and write a scathing, unintelligible, one-star Yelp ‘review,’ to confirm that you’re an asshole. And if you don’t apologize and delete the offensive review upon reflection, you’re incorrigible.

TS, one of Boston’s best, and well-respected bartenders, shared an incident last week on facebook after consulting with his managers and ownership following a restless night. According to the facebook post, an alleged incident with an unruly guest occurred over the previous weekend at the Cambridge, MA restaurant where TS is bar director and partner, and included the following:

  • It was a Saturday night with a 45-minute wait for guests without reservations.
  • The bar that TS was working was slammed.
  • The amatuer Yelp ‘reviewer’ arrived almost an hour late for his 7:15pm reservation.
  • The restaurant called to confirm that the guest was still coming, they rescheduled, and he was still late.
  • Upon arrival, the GM told him he would seat him as soon as possible, and welcomed him to have a drink at the bar.
  • TS offered to serve him full dinner at the bar, apologized for not being able to seat him immediately, and offered him a round on the house.
  • The guest hurled multiple insults at TS, including, “Are you dumb, are you blind, what the f**k is your problem, you skinny Asian?” called the GM fat, and asked for a “manly, real drink.”
  • The guest repeatedly threatened TS with a bad Yelp review if he didn’t get his way, and eventually was thrown out of the restaurant by the GM for his abusive behavior.
  • The guest was a well known college professor. His picture was included in the facebook post, which has since been deleted.

Here is the gem of a Yelp review that followed:

Screenshot_20171109-143012 (3)

The review remained intact for at least a day, was edited by the reviewer (removing the insults), then was taken down. It isn’t clear if the reviewer removed the review or the Yelp moderators did after it was flagged. I sent a screenshot of the original review to DH, the Business School professor who wrote it, along with the following email:

Hello, DH- I’m doing some research for a blog post. I’d like to talk with you about this Yelp review of CAS restaurant that has since been modified. Specific items I’d like to discuss:

  1. Your responses to bartender’s accusations (I have a list).
  2. Your responses to manager’s comments on Yelp.
  3. Your use of the following in your review:

- “Fat guy”

- “That fat guy doesn’t even have eyes in his fat ass.”

- “…different weight class I guess though fat guy probably never heard of mma tricks etc.”

- “Avoid CAS for safety and sanity.”

- “Anyone else can do better than those bastards.”

4. Any additional comments you would like to add?

I sent the email 3 times, left 3 voicemails at DH’s office, and sent him 3 facebook PM’s for comment with a deadline of Sunday night at midnight. To ensure that he received the emails, I dropped a copy at the School of Business building where his department is located on Sunday indicating that I would hold off on publishing this blog post until noon on Monday, 11/13.

NBC Boston reported on the incident, and in their video quoted a statement from Ken Freeman, Dean of BU Questrom School of Business, “We are aware of an inappropriate Yelp review posted by a member of our faculty. It does not represent our views and values. We are extremely disappointed by this occurrence.” There was no mention of disciplinary action or an apology from professor DH.

I know bartender TS personally, he’s a true gentleman, extremely gracious and hospitable, as well as excellent at his craft. When I spoke with him on Saturday afternoon, he had no interest in seeing DH lose his job. However, the 17+ year industry veteran was adamant about protecting his co-workers and restaurant industry colleagues, and sending a clear, strong message to customers that abuse of service industry workers, or anyone, is not ok. “This isn’t about me. I’ve taken a lot worse abuse over the years. I can take it. I was more upset that my co-worker was being insulted. I think it’s important to stand up and protect our own people and our industry brothers and sisters–to raise awareness and let people know that Yelp threats, and unacceptable, abusive behavior will not be tolerated. I just want it to stop.”

As of our conversation, TS had not been contacted directly by anyone at BU, including professor DH.

I will update here if  anything noteworthy develops.

Please note: I used initials instead of full names to protect the individuals involved from future Google searches. As I’ve stated in a previous blog post (To Shame or Not to Shame?), in most cases, I don’t support public shaming.

From Trader Vic’s book, Food and Drink:

TraderVic

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Stop Faking Service Dogs-Wes Siler-Indefinitely Wild: Outside Magazine

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Customer Hall of Shame

Posted: 08/31/2017

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Fake service dogs are the new allergies…

Neil Swidey’s comprehensive piece, Why food allergy fakers need to stop for the Boston Globe Magazine earned him a 2015 Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. From the highly-acclaimed piece:

BEFORE WE GET INTO IT, let me make one thing clear. This intervention is not aimed at those with life-threatening food allergies or similarly grave medical conditions. I would never question people whose faces will balloon if they ingest trace amounts of shellfish. Or people who risk going into anaphylactic shock with a whiff of peanut dust. Or people whose ingestion of a smidge of gluten will send their bodies on an autoimmune witch hunt that over time will eat away at the lining of their small intestines and potentially lead to everything from infertility to cancer. Those problems are very real, and everyone who is afflicted with one or more of them has my sympathy.

I’m talking about the rest of you. Those of you who don’t eat garlic because you detest its smell or avoid cauliflower because it makes you fart or have gone gluten-free because you heard it worked wonders for Jennifer Aniston or Lady Gaga or Dave, your toned instructor from spin class.

I know you want your dietary preferences to be taken seriously, and you think invoking the A-word is a harmless little white lie. But you have no idea how much trouble you’re causing and how much you’re helping to erode hard-won progress for people with genuine allergies and disorders.

Today’s guest post from Wes Siler for Outside’s Indefinitely Wild blog, makes a similar appeal to fakers who put people with real disabilities at risk.

Stop Faking Service Dogs

Loving your pet too much is putting people with real disabilities at risk.

It’s time to stop falsely claiming that your dog is a service animal and to stop bringing pets into restaurants, onto planes, and to other places where only service dogs are permitted.

Screenshot_20170831-194142

 

Here in famously pet-friendly Los Angeles, I encounter dogs that are blatantly not service animals on a daily basis. Recently, during a morning visit to my local café, I laughed when a woman whose tiny dog was thrashing around at the limits of its leash and barking fiercely at other customers loudly proclaimed that it was a service animal. “It’s my service dog,” she said to me, scowling. “You’re not allowed to ask me why I need it!”

Data backs my anecdote up. A study conducted at the University of California at Davis found that the number of “therapy dogs” or “emotional support animals” registered by animal control facilities in the state increased 1,000 percent between 2002 and 2012. In 2014, a supposed service dog caused a U.S. Airways flight to make an emergency landing after repeatedly defecating in the aisle. A Google News search for “fake service dog” returns more than 2.2 million results.

This has recently led state governments to try and curb the problem through law. In Massachusetts, a House bill seeks to apply a $500 fine to pet owners who even falsely imply that their animal may be a service dog. In California, the penalty is $1,000 and up to six months in jail. Twelve states now have laws criminalizing the misrepresentation of a pet as a service animal. That’s good, but with all the confusion surrounding what a service dog actually is, there’s less and less protection for their unique status.

A new bill introduced to the Senate this summer by Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin threatens to add to the confusion even more. If it becomes law, you’ll be able to take any animal on a plane simply by telling the airline that it’s an ESA. Alarmingly, the bill seems to include ESAs in its definition of service animals.

Look, I get the desire to bring your pet along with you everywhere you go. My dogs are as important to me as my friends and family. The first criteria my girlfriend and I apply to where we eat, drink, and travel is whether our dogs can enjoy it with us. But out of respect for the needs of disabled people, for the incredible work that real service dogs perform, and for the people managing and patronizing these businesses, we will not lie. We do not take our pets places where they’re not welcome. We never want to compromise the ability of a service dog to perform its essential duties.

As an animal lover, don’t you want the same thing?

What’s a Service Animal?

The Americans with Disabilities Act limits the definition of a service animal to one that is trained to perform “work or tasks” in the aid of a disabled person. So, while a dog that is trained to calm a person suffering an anxiety attack due to post-traumatic stress disorder is considered a service dog, a dog whose mere presence calms a person is not. The act states, “dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.”

That same law makes no requirements or provisions for any registration, licensing, or documentation of service animals. It also prohibits businesses or individuals from asking a disabled person for proof that their dog is a service animal. In fact, the ADA permits only two questions to be asked of people with service animals: Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? What task is the dog trained to perform? That’s it. No inquiry can be made about the nature of the disability and no proof can be requested, nor are there any licenses or documents to prove a dog is a service animal.

Emotional support animals (let’s just use that as a catchall for any dog that provides comfort but does not perform a specific task) are specifically excluded by the ADA, and access for them is not provided by that law. Businesses and similar entities are left to define their own policies. Amtrak, for instance, does not consider ESAs to be service animals and does not permit them to ride in passenger areas on its trains.

Because ESAs provide benefit by their mere presence, there’s no burden of training for them like there is for a service dog. The presence of untrained, or poorly trained dogs in public places, and on crowded airplanes can lead to significant problems. In June, an ESA aboard an airplane attacked the human seated next to it, resulting in severe injury.

So where’s the confusion come from, and why are there so many pets on airplanes these days? The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) does recognize ESAs and mandates that they be allowed on planes. It also goes further to place a burden of proof on owners of both service animals and ESAs.

“Another dog once spent an entire flight barking at my dog,” relates Randy Pierce, who’s been totally blind for the past 17 years. “My dog was not barking back, but the barking was changing her behavior. That makes it harder for her to do her job; she loses her focus. I’m 6’4″, so if she loses her focus, it means I’m going to hit my head on an exit sign or a doorway or, if we’re on a street, maybe even step out into traffic.”

I also spoke with my friend Kent Kunitsugu, whose 12-year-old son, Hayden, suffers from epileptic seizures. Their dog, Lola, is trained to smell the sweat associated with an oncoming seizure, alert Hayden and his parents, and then lay across him during a seizure to comfort and protect him. “We often have to ask people to get their pets away from ours, because it’s a distraction, and the dog needs to pay full attention to my son,” explains Kunitsugu. “People think we’re being assholes, but we can’t afford a distraction.”

Pierce’s dog, Autumn, completely ignores other dogs, doesn’t beg for food, sits quietly for the duration of long flights, and generally minimizes her impact. That’s the result of lots of money—service dogs cost upwards of $20,000—and thousands of hours of training. Pierce, for example, has developed a routine with Autumn that involves the dog communicating when she needs to go to the bathroom, and then doing so in a specific orientation to Pierce that enables him to easily find it and collect it in a baggie. A true service dog is essential to its human partner’s well being, as well as a huge financial investment that other untrained dogs in public places put at risk.

The increasing presence of ESAs on flights, and in businesses has also combined with confusion around the law to create a backlash that’s impacting true service dogs, in addition to pets.

“On that flight, I overheard the flight attendant remark to her colleague that she wished they wouldn’t allow service dogs,” describes Pierce. His disability is obvious, but that’s not always the case for people who need service dogs, and those with disabilities already find going out in public difficult and intimidating. Fake service dogs are giving real ones a bad reputation.

Quantifying Fake

You can order service dog vests, tags, harnesses and other paraphernalia on Amazon and countless other websites. Dozens of websites and services claim to offer registry, certification, licenses, or other documentation for service dogs—all scams, as the ADA neither defines or requires any such proof.

To take your emotional support animal on an airplane, all you need is a letter from a licensed mental health professional that’s on letterhead, signed, and less than a year old. You can buy those online for a few bucks: news investigations have found psychologists offering to sell them to otherwise undiagnosed clients. Heck, most of us could probably counterfeit one using Photoshop.

“In order to be a service dog, that dog has to be trained to perform a task, and there has to be a recognized disability,” explains Pierce. “I’ve met a lot of people who tell me this is their emotional support animal, but what they’ve just told me is they don’t understand the law.”

Pierce is frustrated that the law is so vague, often misunderstood, and simply used as an excuse to bring pets somewhere they don’t belong. Because you can only ask if a person with a service dog has a disability and what tasks the dog is trained to perform, most businesses and other services simply don’t question service dogs at all. And most people with emotional support animals don’t realize that their pets aren’t actually guaranteed equal access by the ADA, or any other law, outside of air travel.

Really the only mechanism available to legitimate service dog owners is to sue a business that denies them access, which just worsens the problem. “The owners of most places are intimidated,” says Pierce. “They don’t want a lawsuit on their hands for being wrong, and they don’t know what their rights are, so they don’t ask questions.”

Animal Lovers Must Unite

We find ourselves in a society that requires you to present a diagnosis of mental illness (or soon, just a verbal claim of such) if you want to safely fly with your dog. The system is broken.

In 2014, 25,000 emotional support animals boarded Jet Blue flights alone. Why isn’t there an airline that offers safe transport for pets? Or specific pet-friendly flights on certain popular routes?

And why aren’t there more dog-friendly restaurants, bars, music venues, and other businesses? There are nearly 90 million pet dogs in this country. That’s a huge market, but also a huge problem when us owners act inappropriately. As animal lovers, creating and supporting dog-friendly businesses should be our priority. Acting selfishly to the detriment of others will not create a more dog-friendly future. We want to be able to take our dogs to more places, more often, but we have to make sure doing so is appropriate and doesn’t infringe on the rights and well-being of people who need real service dogs.

The American Kennel Club offers a Canine Good Citizen certification after a formal process of testing and training good behavior. If you want to bring your dog into a café, why aren’t you being asked to produce evidence of that, rather than falsely stating that the business owner has to permit your emotional support animal?

“Instead of looking at ourselves as service dog users and faux service dog users, I like to think of all of us as dog lovers,” says Pierce. “When you look at it from that perspective, they’re not mutually exclusive. How do we make sure all our animals are able to succeed?”

Wes Siler

Wes Siler runs IndefinitelyWild, Outside’s lifestyle column telling the story of adventure-travel in the outdoors, the vehicles and gear that get us there, and the people we meet along the way. You may recognize Wes from such websites as Jalopnik, Gizmodo, and Hell For Leather, where he used to review cars and motorcycles, and share his various misadventures, outdoors and otherwise. Wes lives in LA with his dog, Wiley.

IndefinitelyWild is an outdoors lifestyle blog on @outsidemagazine brought to you by @wessiler and friends.

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Hospitality Therapy-Screaming into the darkness, like a wolf on a moonlit mountain. #ServerNotServant

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Customer Hall of Shame

Posted: 07/22/2017

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This is priceless.

I’ve spoken with several hospitality industry professionals (many clients) who have adopted a policy of refusing to engage publicly or privately with amateur reviewers. The general philosophy is that they’re never going to please everyone, and they don’t want to waste valuable time interacting with a small minority when they’re slammed running their business. I get it, and I respect that position.

However, there are some business owners and managers who selectively engage and seize an opportunity in a cathartic, epic manor to defend their business and their people. It’s marketing brilliance when done properly.

Case in point:

Written by Tony Cuddihy, and reposted with permission from JOE.ie:

This, dear friends, is how you defend your business and the people you work with. This Doolin hotel manager is our hero.

When Donal Minihane, the General Manager of Hotel Doolin in County Clare, came across a poor review on TripAdvisor he decided to write one of the best responses we’ve ever come across.

A user called Lovnhawaii posted some quite derogatory comments about the hotel – giving out about everything from the receptionist to the Wi-Fi to the ‘grumpy ole men’ working in the hotel – which you can read here.

Anyone familiar with Hotel Doolin will know that the person in question was talking out of their arse, so Donal decided to defend Hotel Doolin in the best way possible.

This is what he wrote back:

Dear LovnHawaii:

Thank you for staying with us at Hotel Doolin on your recent trip to Ireland and for posting your feedback. We were very disappointed with the content of your review. However, after investigating the particulars of your stay in detail with all team members I was even more disappointed to learn that the content of the review was not an accurate reflection of what actually happened.

From the title of your review, other readers would think that you inadvertently stumbled into Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn and that Hotel Doolin was full of brigands and cutthroats, that our staff wear eye patches and pantaloons and are hiding behind the pillars in the lobby, cutlass clenched between our teeth, waiting to jump out and pillage passerbys.

You say the hotel is deceitful and dishonest and that one of our staff members, Emma, is a liar when, in fact, it is your good self that is being liberal with the truth. Emma did make a mistake on check-in with the rate, this was spotted the following morning by one of our more senior receptionists and was rectified before you checked out so that you never paid €240 as you stated above.

 Also, the duty manager met you the following morning, apologised for the mistake and gave you a further reduction on your rate. We are 100% certain that Emma made a genuine mistake, as sometimes people do, and we feel it is very unfair and irresponsible of you to call her a liar and dishonest on a public forum.

I’m sensing a lot of anger in the review above and I know that you probably didn’t mean to let loose all that anger on us. Hey, sometimes people just need to vent. Sometimes at night when I come home from a long day’s work at the hotel, I check to see if everyone is in bed and then I go out into the field at the back of my house and scream into the darkness. I let it all out, like a wolf on a moonlit mountain.

I feel better after that and nobody gets hurt. I’m not saying howling into the night like a wolf will work for you, I don’t know your circumstances, you may have neighbours that’ll think it is weird, but there are other ways of channelling rage that don’t have to involve Hotel Doolin and slandering Emma.

With regards the Wi-Fi, yes, the Wi-Fi in the west of Ireland is the worst in Europe, there is nothing we can do about this for the moment, although I think we are getting high-speed broadband in the area pretty soon. in the meantime, to anybody else reading this review. DO NOT COME TO DOOLIN IF WI-FI IS MORE IMPORTANT TO YOU THAN HUMAN INTERACTION, YOU WILL BE DISAPPOINTED.

There are three men over the age of forty working in the hotel. Only one of them was working on the night you stayed, so we didn’t know how to deal with the ‘grumpy old men’ in your review, until my assistant manager came up with the only viable solution.

 We’ve decided to execute all three of these men to ensure that no other guests will have to endure the horrific ordeal you went through that evening in the bar.

Paul, Martin and Luis will be blindfolded and shot in the back of the head at Fitz’s cross after mass this Sunday. There will be trad music, cocktail sausages and face-painting for the kids and I can organise a pair of complimentary tickets for you if you wish to attend. I know this will not make up for what happened to you but we hope it will go some way towards showing you that we take your feedback seriously.

You see, even though you hurt us deeply with your review, we’d still like to be friends, we’d love if you afforded us the opportunity to change your opinion of us and hope that you will return to Doolin someday.

In fact, each year on the 30th February we have a party for our valued past customers who think we are liars, we all hold hands and dance around a campfire and sing songs that help us forget about the past and look with hope towards the future. We’d love if you could make it (that lying cheating ruffian Emma won’t be there, we promise).

Ends

JOE would like to thank Donal for giving us his permission to share his response, and Aaron Stone McHale for bringing our attention to it in the first place.

[Thanks to Darren Tully, living in Dublin, Ireland for bringing this to my attention. -Patrick Maguire]

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“Can’t You Read the Sign?” #Humans #LookUp

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Rules of Engagement

Posted: 07/9/2017

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The Five Man Electrical Band 1971:

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind

Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

Apparently, not.

I recently entered Staples and was greeted by this 20″ x 30″ sign immediately upon entering:

IMG_Staples

 

After walking around the sign, I heard some commotion at the check out line about 20 feet away. Following a minor ruckus, a customer loudly stated, “You should have a sign!,” and stormed out. [Of course I had to get the scoop from the cashier.] She told me that the customer presented a credit card to pay, she apologized, and informed him that their POS was down and for the time being, they could only accept cash. After pleading his case, to no avail, the customer kicked a cardboard display of tape, dropped his verbal parting shot about the need for a sign, and left. And yes, I confirmed that the sign was in place when he entered the store…

There’s no mystery as to why many online sites have shut down comments following their stories. Many lazy, caustic people spew their vitriolic comments based on the headline alone, without reading the article. Despite the fact that ‘Reading is Fundamental,’ we have some serious fundamental problems when it comes to internet etiquette, especially the content of comments. According to RIF, “43% percent of American adults are functionally illiterate.” Many people are more interested in invoking their established ‘worldview’ than engaging in a meaningful, enlightening conversation where they might learn something.

In the spring, Norway’s public broadcaster (NRK) implemented a novel approach in an attempt to mitigate the online debauchery. From TNW:

Comment sections on the internet can be a cesspool of human misery and rarely lead to fruitful conversations. Many news sites have given up on regulating comment sections and simply gotten rid of them, but Norway’s public broadcaster (NRK) has tried to find new ways to elevate the level of discussion in comments.

Nieman Lab reported that NRKbeta, the tech arm of NRK, has introduced a quiz that makes sure that people have read the article before commenting on it. People are required to answer three fairly easy multiple-choice questions about the topic and if they pass they are allowed to comment.

Perhaps comment sections will be able to shake their cesspool-image in the future. Forcing people to actually read what they are ranting about provides a glimmer of hope for a more informed discussion online.

Amen.

My go-to, neighborhood greasy spoon, the Busy Bee has been cash-only for decades. Despite a small sign in the front window, every day, on multiple occasions, customers pull out plastic to pay and the staff explains that they are cash-only. Tired of explaining why, and where the nearest ATM was, they posted this sign on the front door:

IMG_BusyBee

Nothing has changed. Every single day I go to the diner I see someone try to pay with plastic. ‘No one’ reads anything or follows instructions. If you doubt it, ask a bartender or server about their interactions with customers. No matter how detailed you explain something, customers often reply in a nonsensical way, oblivious of what was just communicated to them.

Server: “We only have A and B?”

Customer: “We can’t get C?”

No! No you can’t!! C is NOT A or B!!!!!

Bartender hands beer list to guest. “We’ve got 30 beers on tap on the front of the list, and 80 bottles and cans on the back. I’ll give you a few moments to take a look, unless you’re looking for something specific and I can help guide you?”

Customer: “Can you just tell me what you have for beers?”

And then this happened recently:

IMG_Pence

Nice example for our people. Let’s not even go there for now…

Lastly, while contemplating the fate of humans who never read anything, I happened upon this sign after working an event in the Seaport in Boston recently:

IMG_TrainTracks

I wouldn’t have been shocked to hear that the customer from Staples ‘met his maker’ on these tracks…

If you work in a service industry interacting with humans for a living, please share your stories ( join the therapy session) in the comments below. Thank you.

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Social Media for Restaurants & Small Businesses-Essential in 2017

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Rules of Engagement

Posted: 07/5/2017

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At a luncheon meeting with a chef/owner of a Boston area restaurant, the chef and client of my consulting business told me that he chose the restaurant based on the recommendation of Marc Hurwitz, founder of Hidden Boston, an online restaurant guide covering Boston and New England. The Hidden Boston platforms have a combined reach of 185,000+ followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Marc had highly recommended the chicken wings, and they were very good. To acknowledge the referral, I took a picture of the wings and was preparing to post it on my Instagram and Twitter accounts, tagging the restaurant and Hidden Boston. Unfortunately for the restaurant, they had no Instagram or Twitter accounts, and still don’t today. As a result, the restaurant didn’t benefit from a post that would have been visible to a minimum of 150,000 people (IG and Twitter), plus the retweets and people who searched Google or searched the hashtag #ChickenWings. And when I was there, the restaurant wasn’t very busy…

There is no excuse in 2017 for restaurants and most businesses to ignore the importance of (at a minimum) establishing and maintaining social media accounts. You can’t benefit from ‘passive’ promotion from ambassadors of your restaurant if you’re not even in the game. Sometimes it is about life and death, and other times it’s about your brand, reputation, promotions, and crisis management.

Stephen Covey, author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” (25+ million copies sold), noted in a blog post on 10/31/08:

I sometimes use the metaphor of an Emotional Bank Account. Like a financial bank account, you can make deposits and take withdrawals from the account. When you make consistent deposits, out of your integrity and out of your empathy—that means your understanding of what deposits and withdrawals are to other people—those two things—empathy and integrity—that little by little you can restore trust.

This metaphor translates perfectly to businesses and the people who own, lead, manage, and operate them. And PR, social media, and marketing play a critical role in consistently making deposits to build trust and respect with employees, vendors, your community, and current and future customers.

Life and death. During the summer of 2016, a very popular Boston food truck suddenly lost a young member of their work family to a tragic death. A few days later, the owner of the food truck took to social media and posted a heartfelt tribute and a link to a campaign to raise money for their brother’s funeral services. As a result, they raised almost 2 times their goal so the family of the deceased could properly pay their respects and celebrate his life. No business or human being is exempt from unexpected tragedy.

Restaurants and other businesses face challenges every day–less extreme examples than above, that require effective communication with their customers and their network. If a sprinkler head explodes, you’re robbed, experience a fire, flooding, or mechanical failure, and need to communicate temporary or extended closures, the larger your network is, the easier it is to get the word out, on your terms.

Many social media “resisters” haven’t established accounts because of their misconception about what’s involved to get started and maintain them. It’s really not as difficult as many people think. Here are a few examples of why restaurants and small businesses should have a minimum of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, and a growing email database for newsletters:

  • Recruiting staff.
  • Congratulating/recognizing employees.
  • Acknowledging and thanking loyal regulars and new customers.
  • Promoting/co-branding with vendors, neighbors, friends, and peers.
  • Crisis management-communicating on your terms, not an editor’s.
  • Promoting on-site events and off-site charity event participation.
  • Marketing food and drink specials and seasonal menu changes.
  • Notifying the public when you’re closed due to a private event.
  • Notification of holiday hours, vacation closures, and medical emergencies.
  • Notification when remaining open during snowstorms or extreme weather.
  • Linking to, and acknowledging media coverage, and positive amateur & professional reviews.
  • The passive benefit of customer ‘ambassadors’ promoting your business for you.
  • Grass roots, organic, social media marketing leads to broader media coverage.
  • Building goodwill and making deposits into the “emotional bank accounts” of employees, vendors, and the public.

Imprints and impressions derived from social media drive decisions about where customers dine and consumers spend money. And all businesses can benefit from some genuine goodwill at some point during their tenure. Even busy restaurants have gaps that could be filled in with effective social media marketing. I know of several restaurants that are slow Sunday thru Wednesday that are doing little or nothing to help their own cause via social media and email marketing.

A common refrain I hear from restaurant and business owners is, “I don’t have time for all that social media stuff.” With the increasing number of restaurants and competing entities, restaurants and small businesses cannot afford to ignore the benefits of establishing and maintaining social media platforms. They are essential, and failure to embrace social media will put restaurants and small businesses at a competitive disadvantage.  It’s not that hard to get started or improve upon what you are currently doing.

After requests from prospective clients in Boston and across the US, I’m now offering a new Social Media Strategy/Reboot Consultation for restaurant and small business clients. This social media marketing, independent audit, and workshop, is a way to ensure that you, your staff, and affiliates are maximizing the potential to market your business. This candid analysis and feedback will ensure that your restaurant/business is at the forefront of social media marketing, you’re “in the game,” and that you remain current with ideas to improve your business and income on an ongoing basis.

Who will benefit?

#1- Restaurants and small businesses across the USA currently not using or maximizing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and email marketing to engage their current and prospective customers to maximize sales.

#2- Restaurants and small businesses that are using social media but realize they could be doing a much better job, and need a jump-start to inspire them and get them back on track.

Details and pricing here.

Please forward this post to any restaurant or small business owners who could benefit from it.

Thank you-Patrick  Email: Patrick@servernotservant.com

Instagram and Twitter: @PatrickMBoston

Disclosure: I have a professional relationship with Marc Hurwitz of Hidden Boston, and refer restaurant and small business clients to him for sponsored social media posts.

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