Restauranting: The People Who Eat Out


While I’ve been job hunting, I’ve been paying the bills with a gig at a breakfast restaurant. I worked there in high school, and the GM was a server back then and was gracious enough to hire me on. While I’m thankful for the income and the ability to pay my bills, working in a restaurant is incredible motivation to get a real job [I don’t mean to demean it, but I’d rather be doing something else]. Despite this, it is highly entertaining.

I spend a lot of time at the front of the restaurant, and I get to see all the different types of people walking in and out. Yesterday, I found myself laughing at the innocence of the elderly, as well as amazed at the rudeness of people. All the while, I’m thinking to myself…”I have to market products/services that could potentially cover this spectrum?” First, the old man who made me laugh simply responded to my wishing him a good day with “Take care of your health.” Now, the response normally is ‘you too’ [see Brian Regan], however, his response gave me pause. I’m sure he was just struggling to come up with the stereotypical, appropriate response, but I felt he was genuine. Thus, there are people who will openly listen to what you have to say, and give a response either positively or negatively. Basically, these people could be classified as well-intentioned–at least superficially. It is easy to market to this demographic because you can easily ensnare them, and get your message across without much of a barrier. Wonderful! However, the other group is a little tougher.

An apt portrayal of the customers.

The second person did not enjoy his time at the restaurant and his response to how was everything today was, “We won’t be back, does that answer your question?” I was a bit taken aback. I dug a little more to find the root of the issue and what it boiled down to was a miscommunication. Think of the telephone game you played back in grade school. The message gets jumbled the more times it is re-communicated. The server didn’t quite get it, the kitchen tweaked it more, and the end result was an unhappy customer. Instead of understanding it wasn’t necessarily the end of the world [like he made it sound] he became irate, demanded things, and got grumpy. This person is a little more difficult to market too, unless of course you’re trying to sell Oscar the Grouch. They may filter information, avoid it, or totally disregard it–much higher barriers to mindshare.

If you can market something upbeat, in your face, and exciting to a grinch, I feel you are well on your way to becoming a true marketing guru.

-J

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