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Saturday, August 22, 2020

Bizarre IHOP Moment - Only In Kentucky? LOL

Okay, so first I need to be clear -  I waited tables for years, especially during the recession, so I'm more patient than most people when restaurants make mistakes.

That is because I know how busy and short-staffed things can get, I know the sometimes literal fires being put out behind the scenes.

So I always over-tip, and I rarely complain about anything, and I never send anything back - literally never. 

However, this was the most bizarre thing I've ever encountered at a restaurant.

So, we order a delivery from this restaurant once every weekend, and out of the last 7 times we've ordered, 6 of those times were missing food or had it wrong.  

I never said a word, until now, especially during COVID - and I only did so because my husband was so mad, he was yelling (not at me, just about this restaurant rarely getting their orders right when everyone else can) and going to call and curse out the manager, but I asked him to let me do it, I could do it more diplomatically and reasonably, he was too mad. 

I was VERY nice about it, because sometimes the managers just don't know everything that's going on, so I just called to let him know, ask him if he was aware of it.

I was very understanding of his frustration with being short-staffed - however, what the manager blamed was so bizarre, I wasn't sure what to do.

Here's what I decided to do - this is an exact copy of what I just wrote to their corporate guest services department (which I also never do)  - and it's 100% true. 

Just an FYI, the first time I copy/pasted and posted this here, I didn't realize the comment to IHOP never submitted,  because it was too long; thus, I am reposting the shortened version that eventually was submitted, with less characters ... 

Hi -  I've worked in restaurants previously, so I rarely complain. I never said a word  until today, after receiving an order for the 6th time with missing items.    
I called the manager, Dwayne, at the Palumbo Drive, Lexington, KY, location. I was VERY nice.  I asked if he was aware, and why he felt this continued to happen, considering the containers are clear.  

His excuse was, and I quote, "Nobody wants to work, the government's paying people to stay home, so we have 100% turnover right now."

Not true - the unemployment benefits have mostly expired, that's what Congress is debating in the new stimulus package. 

Secondly, all other Lexington restaurants seem to get the to-go/delivery orders right? 

I said, "I understand being short-staffed, but other restaurants aren't having this problem.  If you can't provide the correct orders, would it be better to close?"  

He said many are.   He offered for us to come get the missing food,  but my husband said "No!" He was super mad. 

I said, "Let me get this straight, before we go to Cracker Barrel - did you seriously just blame the government for repeatedly getting the orders wrong at your store?"  

He said, "Yes ma'am." 

I said, "How very Trump of you, blaming the government/Democrats/your "lazy" underlings for your problems. This response is not what I expected; I needed to hear you take responsibility.  So let me be very clear - we'll be going to Cracker Barrel because you didn't, I'm sorry."  

What I didn't have the room to say on the submission for was that he hung up on me. 

Now, the reason we switched from Cracker Barrel to IHOP was mostly because they were about $5 cheaper a plate - but let me tell you, it's worth that extra $5 a plate.

Because at least Cracker Barrel gets your orders right and doesn't blame the government if something is wrong LOL!

I have now heard everything - it's the (Democratic) Governor of Kentucky's fault this restaurant can't get their orders right, 6/7 times in a row? LOL. 

Other Lexington restaurants are short-staffed, too - but they manage to still get their to-go orders and deliveries right - why can't they?

But no, it's a government conspiracy, against just the IHOP on Palumbo Drive ;)


Please stop listening only to Fox News, Breitbart, and Twitter for your news - please - because you're about to lose your own businesses -  not because of COVID and Democrats, but because you're making fools of yourselves, acting on dysinformation and blaming other people for your own mistakes and problems. 

(And when they lose their businesses because they have, you just know they'll blame the government and Democrats for that, too, instead of themselves and their own poor business leadership).

And how much has his food cost gone up, because that guy has to give away more because they didn't get it right the first time? 

(Not that he was overly willing to offer compensation.)

It's really not that hard to take responsibility - in fact, I've won awards in customer service for doing it to customer satisfaction, retaining clients and receiving customer compliments.

The "blame game" doesn't matter - take responsibility and fix it. It's basic customer service, and it goes like this:

"I'm so sorry, that was totally our fault.  We'd like to make it right.   Let me replace that for you, at no charge, and considering the last 5 meals before this had missing items and you didn't speak up until now, your next meal will be on the house, will that work for you?" 
"Your business is very important to us, especially during these difficult times, and we want to keep you as a regular customer."

Boom, we're done here. 

Look, Trumpers - you know this fear-mongering, conspiracy garbage insanity can't last forever - it will all need to end, at some point.

People DO want to work - and unemployment benefits are expiring - that's what Congress is debating.

However, if you make it clear that you - and your business - aren't taking COVID seriously - because you think it's some government conspiracy to pay people not to work, and that all your workers are just "lazy" - you're going to lose both employees AND customers.

Not because of "the government" restrictions, Democrats, or "Fake News," but because YOU made it clear that you not only don't value your employees' work, but their health and lives - and the health and lives of your customers.  

Thus, at some point, you will run out of people to blame, and your business will close, while others will keep going - businesses who DO takes the lives of their customers and employees seriously. 

So stop blaming everyone else for your own mistakes, problems, and attitude, and start taking responsibility for your own poor, ineffective leadership.

Because if you don't, you will lose both your businesses and this election - and there'll be nobody to blame for that - but yourselves :/

PS - In fact, I then called Cracker Barrel's manager to compliment them for always getting our stuff right, that it was worth that extra money - they'd they gained us back as customers, after our experience with their competition :)

Cracker Barrel (Winchester Road, Lexington) was VERY appreciative of the compliment, and said:

"OMG - hilarious!  Just so you know, no one's leaving here,  we have zero turnover at present - we're actually gradually expanding staff again, hiring new people right and left -  off a waiting list.  Lots of people want to work, and they want to work here." 
But thank you SO so much, we mostly just hear from our customers if they're unhappy with something - good news is so appreciated right now, thank you! "
"We know we're a little bit more expensive, but that money goes to better service.  We do our very best to get your order right.  And if you don't, we're not going to blame 'the government,' how crazy was that? LOL.  I'm the retail-store side manager, but I'm going to share this with the general manager, he'll love this story!" 
"We're happy to have earned back your business, thank you so much for the compliment and the call!"

Now THAT'S a good manager, clearly trained in customer service. 

In fact, there's a checkbox to donate a few extra dollars to support particular restaurant businesses on delivery orders, so I'm going to donate extra money to Cracker Barrel because of this experience  :)

Like I said in the post below, if you have a bad experience with someone or somewhere, don't stay stuck in it ...

... let that bad experience be the impetus to help you remember the good experiences you've had ...

Thus, I encourage your next step, after speaking up, to then be to go back and thank that prior person, organization, or business for that better experience :)


Update - 8/23/2020  - The regional manager from IHOP gave me a call today (I never did catch his name, I'm sorry), and asked me to call him back on his personal cell phone.  He lives in Pennsylvania.

He was super nice and super sorry that happened.

Regional Manager:  "I ... don't even know what to say about his response, it WAS strange, or what was going through his mind, that that would come out of his mouth,  except that I'm so sorry that happened.  As well as bringing "the government" and "politics" into that conversation, like he did, and then blaming it for our mistakes, didn't belong in that conversation."
"Even being short staffed is not an excuse, that many times. People don't care.  I don't care.  No excuses, it's just,  'We're sorry, how can we fix it?" - period."
"As a matter of fact, I take this as a personal failure because it was my team, underneath me, that failed, so I need to figure out what I can do better to fix it.   In fact, that's why I'm in the position I'm in, is because I can do that. "

Me:  "Right?  Lol.  I mean, it's not that hard.  See, that's admirable - it's the military way.  They are trained if your team fails, you failed.  My husband was an army ranger and is that way.  I'M that way and I was never military lol.  But we're not seeing that in leadership, anymore, in business or politics, particularly in politics - it's become very rare." 

"Part of it is the culture, here in Kentucky  - they like to talk to whomever will listen, about politics.  I've been cornered many times (the grocery, the gas station, the doctor's office waiting room) lol." 

"They tend to emulate who's in charge politically.  And right now, it's popular to waste time playing the blame game, instead of just fixing the problem, just like Trump."

"I don't want to get off on politics too much myself, or take up too much of your time - I just wanted you to know because I didn't think that was 'the IHOP way.' " 

"I don't know if I just caught him on a bad day or what.  I mean, I try to put myself in other people's shoes, but that one, I just couldn't ..." 

Regional Manager:  "No.  We all have bad days, but we all don't blame 'the government' for it, I'm sorry. And rest assured, you're right, this is definitely NOT "the IHOP way."  I'm not going to make any excuses for him." 
" I know you're kind of sold on Cracker Barrel, after this, and I get it, but if you ever want to try us again, you have my personal cell phone number and I want you to call me before you place an order and I will call the restaurant, track it, and make sure it goes out to you correctly."

Me: "Aw, thank you, so much. I really appreciate that, and you taking the time to give a call from your personal cell, especially on a Sunday, But to be honest - probably not, as long as Dwayne is there."

"Because what came off of him, loud and clear, is that he thought the problem wasn't COVID, but the government, and that all of his employees were just lazy and wanted to stay home and get a paycheck rather than work. Not only did he partially blame his employees, but it's clear he doesn't value them, their work or their safety during COVID."

"I called Cracker Barrel, later, and they said exactly the opposite - they're expanding, hiring new people in to their current staff to handle the increased orders. So to me, that says it's not the government, it's not his 'lazy' employees, the problem is his poor, ineffective leadership, people don't want to work for him."

Regional ManagerThat's fair.  Well, thank you for letting me know, just know I have several things I'm investigating and working on, you were heard, and if you change your mind, you have my personal cell number."

Bravo, IHOP!  Thank you!

Now THAT is a manager, ladies and gentlemen - and I can see what he was promoted to regional manager.

And if you ever change your mind, and replace the crazy conspiracist with someone who knows how to take responsibility, you have my number, too lol - and then I'll be happy to return! :)

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