Restaurant Hospitality Editor-in-Chief Mike Sanson
We here at RH have been writing a lot lately about delivery. According to market research company The NPD Group, off-premises foodservice will continue to outpace overall restaurant industry traffic growth over the next decade. People love eating in restaurants, but sometimes they’re just too tired to go out or cook, so a delivered meal from a favorite restaurant is a godsend. I’m no different, but your delivery service can hurt you as much as it can help you.
Recently I ordered a California Oriental Salad while at a favorite restaurant. Here’s how it’s described on the menu: Mixed greens topped with slivered almonds, Mandarin oranges, chopped pineapples, red peppers, chopped green onions and Chinese noodles, served with a sweet and sour dressing. It was delicious.
Too tired to visit the restaurant recently, I had that same salad delivered. After paying the delivery guy for it, I opened the container and discovered that there were no almonds, no green onions, no Chinese noodles, a single thin slice of red pepper, a few Mandarin orange wedges and a few chunks of canned pineapple. Not at all the same salad I’ve gotten while eating at the restaurant.
It’s one thing to leave off a single ingredient, especially if it’s seasonal and maybe in short supply. It’s another to promise a bunch of ingredients for a dish on the menu and then fall way short. I should have known: A similar thing happened to me when I ordered the salad for takeout, and several ingredients were missing.
Here’s the thing: When you order something clearly explained on a menu, you expect the restaurant to come through. In the case of takeout, I didn’t feel like walking back to the restaurant to return the salad and point out the missing ingredients. The same for delivery: I wasn’t going to call the restaurant and complain that the order was mishandled.
This is the point where a lot of you are going to write and say, “If a customer doesn’t point out the mistakes a restaurant makes, it won’t have the opportunity to fix them.”
And this is the point where I tell you that many people won’t point out mistakes, particularly when it comes to takeout and delivery. They are busy, they have likely had a long day and they just don’t want to mess with one more thing. So, customers won’t likely say anything. They will just write you off and order from another place in the future. In my case, the restaurant is convenient to my office, so I have returned, but now I watch them like a hawk because I no longer trust they will fulfill their menu promises.
The restaurant in question is no longer my friend. It has become the crazy uncle I can’t count on. Trust me: You don’t want to become the crazy uncle. I’m sure most of you have checks and balances in place to protect against stupid missteps like this. Please email me about how you protect your reputation when it comes to delivery and takeout.