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Handling cockroaches and guests

Question:

Last week we answered the first part of this question, “Doesn’t every restaurant have cockroaches?” This week, let’s focus on the second part—how do you handle the situation if a guest sees a cockroach or other pest in your establishment? 

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Answer:

Clearly, brushing the situation off as no big deal did not sit well with this guest. The lack of a response from the staff was not encouraging either.

Unfortunately, since not only your guests but also cockroaches, mice and flies can walk right through your door or in with your deliveries, sooner or later, even in the cleanest restaurant, a guest may spot an unwelcome critter. One thing is clear—explaining that the problem is wide spread, common and no big deal is not an acceptable answer. The guest’s mind goes directly to how many more of them must be unseen in the kitchen!

Treat this problem as part of your overall service recovery plan. Empower employees to be able to respond immediately and empathetically to do their best to calm and satisfy the guest. Ignoring the situation will likely result in the guest expressing her frustration on the web.

A good service recovery plan for this or other situations, has employees listening and empathizing with the guest, apologizing once but not assigning blame, offering to immediately correct the situation (such as replacing a problem item or comping an unacceptable meal), and offering some sort of additional compensation for the trouble such as a free dessert or a discount for a repeat visit. The key is to wow the guest with your prompt and generous response so that the frustration and disgust from the incident is tempered.

Of course the best way to handle this problem is to prevent it in the first place.  Minimize the potential for pests in your restaurant by contracting with a good integrated pest management provider, being scrupulous about eliminating dirt, clutter and access points, and constantly looking up, down and all around for signs of infestation.

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