Headed south to Boston this past week with seven friends for a baseball weekend. On more than one occasion I heard the four dreaded words, “Sorry, it’s company policy”.
To set the stage for you, it was late Saturday afternoon at Quincy Market. It was Memorial Day weekend and the sun was shining. The market was packed with tourists enjoying the summer-like weather and our group of eight was hungry and thirsty. The challenge: find a table for eight at a restaurant anywhere in the vicinity of Quincy Market. Finally, we saw two tables of four in a perfect spot. Two of us swooped in to claim the coveted prize for our group.
Cell phones came out and word spread to the others, we found a place to eat…so we thought. We went to the entrance and asked if we could have the two tables. The rest of the conversation went like this.
“Of course sir, how many in your party?”
“There are eight of us.”
“I only see two of you.”
“The others are on their way and should be here at any minute.”
“I’m sorry sir, we can’t seat you until your entire party is here.”
“They are en route, why can’t we sit down?”
“Sorry, it’s company policy.”
I’m not sure if we looked dishonest, but as good Canadians, we were polite and stepped back to wait for the rest of our group. A few more people waiting in line were seated and we held out hope that our friends would soon arrive and we would get seated. The manager then came over and also told us they couldn’t seat us because it was company policy.
Totally befuddled, we told them we were going to find another place to eat and they apologized but they couldn’t seat us. We did find another place and had a great meal. Our supper bill totalled over $200.00. How could a business turn away easy money for the sake of a ridiculous company policy?
It is good business practice to have company policies. You and your staff need guidelines. But when you lose business because of your policy, then it’s time to look at the policy. Customer service is paramount to any business, don’t let it suffer because of some silly internal guideline.
The City of Boston was very hospitable to us last weekend and it is one of the great U.S. cities to visit. If you are walking through Quincy Market, you will see a seafood restaurant called Old Saltys. I’m sure the food is very good, but the management could learn a thing or two about good old Canadian customer service.
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