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Tony Roma’s – When A Business Loses Its Way

By February 19, 2007Internet Lawyer

A group of those who were attending StomperNet and JVAlertLive this past weekend in Orlando decided to eat a late dinner on Saturday at the local Tony Roma’s restaurant. Many of us had worked as waiters in high school and college so we know what to expect of good service… from management to wait staff to kitchen.

This Tony Roma’s visit was a case study in what not to do when running a business. Here’s what happened.

1. Disorganized staff at the door appeared to seat clients out of turn regardless of size of party.

2. Food prep took so long we wondered if they were trucking in new supplies from a warehouse before cooking it.

3. Steaks that were ordered medium rare were served well done…those that were ordered medium well were served rare.

4. Side items were wrong on half of the plates.

5. Ribs not ordered were served…and billed.

6. Wait staff botched the bills and then claimed they couldn’t process credit card payments for the party until the manager could fix an issue with the bank. A fix that never happened.
7. After a half hour of dealing with the billing issue with incompetent wait staff, management finally came over and copped an attitude when the above items were pointed out.

8. Mandatory gratuity included on all bills.

9. Finally paid cash and left in disgust.

10. The taxi for the hotel sat in the parking lot running its meter…restaurant management and wait staff were told that but did nothing to speed up the process.

Is there a point to this?

You bet.

There were 12 in this party…each of whom thought favorably of Tony Roma’s prior to this experience. None of them intend to eat there again. All plan to tell others what happened.

This one incident will literally cost the business hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not more) in lost business because 12 business professionals will not eat there again, will not take associates there again, etc.

It isn’t just the lifetime value of each individual client…it includes the lifetime value of each person within that client’s circle of influence who will choose dining alternatives to avoid a similar experience.

And one can hardly infer that this particular party of 12 was dealt with uniquely. How many hundreds have been similarly mistreated?

How does this apply to your business?

In the Tony Roma’s case, the damages were limited to bad food, horrible service, extra money spent, and time lost. For other businesses, the same mistreatment of clients means lawsuits, government fines, etc.

Your employees will never care about your bottom line as much as you do. In fact, in the Tony Roma’s example, the waiters had no incentive to provide good service because all clients (regardless of party size) were subject to a mandatory gratuity (oxymoron).

Since your employees aren’t that interested in your financial well-being, it is essential to have systems in place to ensure that client service meets your expectations. Don’t assume that your management is up to the task.

If you don’t know what’s going on in your business when you’re not around, assume the worst and be pleasantly surprised if your expectations are exceeded.

You may want to have friends call your business and mystery shoppers patronize it when you’re away so that you can tell what’s being done behind your back to your clients.

Mike Young, Esq.

Author Mike Young, Esq.

Mike Young has been practicing business and technology law since 1994 and is an angel investor in startups. He's been an entrepreneur since 1988. To get legal help from Attorney Young, click here now or call 214-546-4247 to schedule a phone consultation.

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