Pickles are good for business

By Dwight Collins | Apr 09, 2014

Camden — I have never really been a complainer, but as I get older I have begun to feel that if I am going to pay hard-earned money for something – I better get what I paid for.

Recently a group of friends and I went out to dinner to a restaurant and witnessed first-hand how outstanding customer service and a little sense of humor can turn what had the makings of a terrible experience into one that left us smiling when it was over.

This brings me to the point that above everything else, treating people with respect and going above and beyond to make the experience a good one, will gain return business from me.

Anybody who has been in management or customer service training has probably heard of a gentleman named Bob Farrell and his “Pickle Principle.”

Farrell owned a number of restaurants and one day received a letter from a unsatisfied customer asking why, after years of being able to get an extra pickle, suddenly he was being told he could no longer get the pickle for free and if this is the way he was going to run his restaurant, he would no longer eat there.

Farrell, at that point, decided the new “war-cry” at his restaurants would be “Give 'em a pickle!” -- meaning do what it takes to make it right and ensure that the customer will come back.

This ideal fits perfectly with the situation I was in: seven people at our table and not a single meal was right. Food was cold and not cooked to the way we had ordered it and for the first time in a long time, I encouraged my friends to complain about the food. I’m not going to lie, I had visions of the movie “Waiting” and what happens when someone sending their food back complains. Again, I’m at a point that if I have to pay for it, it has to be right.

Three of the meals went back and the rest of us just kind of picked at the rest. Although my burger was warm, it did not live up to the consistency of what I was use to. We go to this establishment because the meals are consistent and we know what we like, so to have a meal that was, for a lack of a better word – poor -- was disappointing.

Our waitress was professional and understanding and at time seemed to be more upset about what was going on then we were and by the sounds of it the cooks heard of her displeasure.

When three meals came back, they were brought out by the manager, who apologized and told us he personally cooked the meals this time and he would not charge for them. He then took a look at my plate and saw that I had only finished part of my burger and he figured it must not be done right because -- lets face it -- I don’t look like a guy that would leave half a burger on my plate. He then took my burger off the bill, to ensure I was happy and that I would come back – so in his own way – he applied the Pickle Principle and gave me a pickle.

A great experience in customer service can go a long way in fixing a bad situation and it was a pleasure to have a manager who felt the quality of the meals were not up to his expectations. He did as much as he could to ensure we left happy, so to him I say: mission accomplished and hey…thanks for the pickle.


Comments (1)
Posted by: Bill Packard | Apr 09, 2014 21:33

Great story, but I would add one thought.  All the meals should have been free.  Granted that would be three more meals, but all should have been compensated for the experience.  In no way am I criticizing the solution, just suggesting that when mistakes are made, it takes going over the top to really make it right.  Glad all turned out well.

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