Ready to respond?
Hello, my friends! Today we are going to see something that can represent an interesting challenge, a trend that is increasing and that we can not ignore. Our society changes and so do its tastes and needs. We have to be attentive to these changes if we don´t want to be outdated, in a business that depends on that satisfaction. As you may have noticed, lately there is an increase in the demand for specialized products in the consumer. Beyond the causes behind these new habits, it is obvious that many people are looking for taking care of themselves more, and they know that one of the most important things they have will have to improve, is food. And there´s where the ones who are dedicated to feeding people appear.
Universal truth: everything changes!
As these changes have been taking place for some time, it should be, at least infrequently, for a waiter to respond to a customer with an innocent “What is gluten?”. Or that in demand for a vegetarian sandwich, the worker responds: “Vegetarian vegetarian or vegetarian of those who eat tuna?” Not to mention the vegans -misunderstood wherever they go-, when asking about a tapa they could eat, they were offered an omelet or cheeses … We should already be clear that a vegan will not accept products of animal origin such as eggs or milk, but they will be good for a vegetarian.
And then there are the allergies with their different degrees, which, in the worst cases can end in anaphylactic shock because none knows, for example, if the soup contained nuts, and I very much doubt that in the apron you hide a syringe of cortisone. Let’s work to avoid encountering the frustration of these clients, who will leave us in search of another place where they have something for them. We have lost the sale, they are not only going to return and obviously, they will not recommend us either. Nobody likes to feel invisible, excluded within a social and commercial framework, where if we are able to respond to a specific demand, the person is PAYING us for that response.
Learn these particularities so that when the time comes you are prepared to respond. And arrange it so that, with the collaboration of the kitchen, you can improvise a solution.
It is unlikely that the same day you will find all the petitions together, but we will imagine the worst of the situations in the form of a video game so that nothing escapes, let´s go for it:
“Your worst day of the week and the nightmare of the chef’s salad”
It’s your third day in a modern bistro. You move straight with the menu to a table of six elegant and demanding ladies who usually frequent the place. Tip of the day: the chef’s salad. A generous mix of lettuce, watercress, dried fruits, boiled egg, croutons, goat cheese, dried cranberries and pieces of ham. From the first to the last one, the six clients express their wishes quickly and concisely:
1- “Chef’s salad without nuts, I’m allergic”
2- “Chef’s salad without cheese, I don´t digest lactose very well”
3- “Chef’s salad … maybe something else instead of lettuce? It’s too heavy for me”
4- “Chef’s salad with nothing animal, I’m a vegan”
5- “Chef’s salad without croutons, I’m a celiac”
6- “Chef’s salad, but the vegetarian version if it possible”
Just starting and you lose 20 points for hesitation and another 30 for not knowing how to improvise. The eyes of the guests scrutinize you, a cold sweat crosses your back, time runs and you only have two lives left. Without thinking much, you press the button to spend a wild card and the maître appears. Your superior is busy and he tells you that in the kitchen there are many ingredients to adapt the salad, to improvise and negotiate with the clients, and PUF, he vanishes. You lose a life, you come back to the table and had nothing better than saying something like:
“But if I remove the lettuce it will turn into nothing …”. The client is mute, staring at you, you lose 100 more points. Overwhelmed, you call your second and last wildcard: the head chef, who tells you screaming: “the same salad can be made with spinaches, you silly!”
Next, you remove the nuts from the order of the first client. A bit recovered you start to negotiate, you gain 80 points: “Is it ok if we replace the cheese with grilled tofu?” She likes it, you get 150 more points. You feel a little bit more confident and go for the following client: “We have toasts made of cornbread, we can improvise some croutons for you with that”. Excellent, you earn 200 points.
Next client, you were doing well, but you take a wrong step and mess with the vegetarian: “It depends on what is vegetarian for you …, do you eat fish?” Wrong, a real vegetarian DOES NOT eat fish, she gets impatient and reminds it to you with an unfortunate: “Honey, as far as I know, salmon doesn´t grow on any tree.” You lose 220 points, another 15 for doubting and another 35 for using the expression: “it depends”. But just in time, you save it by limiting yourself to remove the ham from the plate.
You face the most difficult: the vegan. Vegans are the ones with the most strict diet, and you’ve already spent your two jokers!! You breathe deeply and you throw yourself: “Ok, I’ll ask the Chef to make the salad without cheese, egg, or ham, and we’ll replace those ingredients with marinated seitan, a zucchini carpaccio and … mango slices?” After a few eternal seconds of suspense, the customer accepts willingly and you get 300 points. And, barely, but you pass the screen. Bravo! Then you will have to go with the cook and his poor predisposition to modify dishes. But that belongs to the next screen and … it’s another story.
Adapt, learn, evolve
We will always be exposed to this type of requests (which, on the other hand, are no longer so punctual, maybe it sounds to you Barcelona being declared a veggie friendly city …), we better be prepared to satisfy them. These customers are not weirdos who come to bother us for pleasure with unsettling demands. They are normal people, who have decided to take care of themselves like that, but who find pleasure in social things like anybody, and that includes going out to eat. Where do you think they will go with their friends? Surely to the places where they fell listened and satisfied. And it´s not true that including this type of food in the menus represents a complication or an economic sacrifice for the restaurant. With tricks like the ones that I have just told you, and others that the same clients will reveal you happily, you will be prepared to satisfy more people, which translates into more sales. The successful “flexitarian” offer (vegetarian+ egg + milky + some fish) arrived with a new trend of consumption, or because these clients were adapting so as not to sacrifice their social part? It is time for a more democratic diversity and variety to reach the world of restaurants. Get involved in the change, begin by knowing better your clients and practicing the know how to listen.
Thank you and till another post my friends!