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Being on the road during the week, I missed Valentine's Day with my beautiful wife for the first time since we started dating. This meant that celebrating on the Saturday after had to be extra special! I had been looking forward to being home, and couldn't wait for some R&R time with the Misses.
I booked a reservation with a local Japanese steak house and hibatchi place that is all the rage. We don't eat out that much, because we are both decent cooks, and want a special meal when we pay someone else to do the cooking for us. We had thought about going to this restaurant a few times, but for one reason or another had never found our way over. I thought perfect time to try it out!
The reservation was easy to make online. Email came back quick saying they were looking forward to seeing us at 7:30 on Saturday night. This is the last good thing I can say about our experience.
I am breaking this post up in 2 parts because so much went wrong, and it happens all the time in Dealerships. It started when we drove in. The parking lot was a certified mess! Not were car strewn in every direction, but after snaking through a bunch of aggravated drivers there were no spots. I had to park in the hotel lot next door. I use the term "next door" lightly since the hotel lot is not connected and separated by a chasm, so I had to walk on the shoulder of the highway to get from driveway to driveway.
I am a perpetually positive person so I still had high hopes for the night. I had dropped my pretty lady off at the door, and she was going to alert the hostess to our presence and get things moving towards out table. Next problem, my reservation was not a reservation at all. There was no table and without acknowledging us the hostess simply wrote our name down on a list behind folks that had walked in off the street.
Here is the exchange between my wife (who is now getting red with Irish rage) and this disinterested hostess:
Wife "We are here for our 7:30 reservation"
Hostess "Is your entire party here?"
Wife "My husband is parking the car, and walking in"
Hostess "Come back when he arrives"
Pause, and now I walk in not a minute after:
Wife "We are all here and ready to sit down"
Hostess "Here is your beeper", now turns her back to us. We are waiting a minute, two minutes, three minutes, not one other word uttered about our reservation, completely ignoring that we are there. My wife starts saying excuse me, ignored, excuse me again, ignored, up a notch to I am talking to you, ignored. After 10 minutes of this hostess turning her back to us she finally turned around and said, "There is no such thing as a reservation, only priority seating, that just means we guarantee we will sit you at some point"
No I'm sorry, not the slightest bit of apology. You might try and write this off as just a terrible employee, but I saw the same type of exchange going on with multiple other people. We do not actually take reservations, you have to get on the list, and never heard on apology from one employee to any of the exceptionally angry people crammed in the lobby of the restaurant.
How does this relate to a Dealership?
Ever run a Sale with a gimmick? High volume traffic for a small quantity of product that barely fits the qualifications of the ad? Sales Consultants not fully versed on the fine print, and being asked the same question they do not know how to answer over and over?
I see this over and over in Dealers I visit. Sales Consultants resorting to being rude or difficult, because in this high volume setting they have no financial advantage to having empathy, because there is a stream of opportunity so difficult ones are dispatched as quickly as possible.
Moral of the story. Advertise what you mean, staff enough to handle all your traffic. A car shopping visit happens even less often than Valentine's Day is even more special and gets ruined many times just like this restaurant experience.
Tomorrow Part II