Given the recent events at the Kessler, I feel like it may be time for everyone to relearn customer etiquette. As someone who has worked years in the service industry, I can tell you first hand that there is a certain amount responsibility that we all take upon ourselves as being patrons, just as much as the businesses that we patronize. So here are a few guidelines that will definitely help you become a better customer, and possibly save yourself from becoming publicly shamed. Most of these tips will help you with other relationships in your life as well.
Know the business' hours.
This is crucial to being a good customer. We live in an era of smartphones with Google easily disposable at our fingertips. Search it. Their Facebook page, their Yelp page, hell, they may even have a website that posts their hours (even on holidays) to let you know if they're open or not. Stop wasting your time googling the phone number of the business to call and ask if they're open and actually add "business hours" to your search.
Know the appropriate times to show up and, more importantly, leave.
Once you've accurately figured out if/when the business is open, figure out if it's kosher to show up when you please. Take into consideration if it is appropriate to show up. Example: Most dining experiences last roughly an hour. If it is 9:45pm and they close at 10pm, find a 24 hour drive thru or diner instead and try again another time. If it's last call, is that last round really that necessary? Locked doors and a flipped sign doesn't mean the staff gets to leave right then. There's still over an hour of prep and side-work that needs to be done for the next day as well as cleaning. The service that you would certainly receive by walking in near their closing time is certainly going to be drastically different than if you went at 2pm on a Tuesday.
Don't Be Needy
Upon entering, look around and find where the possible self-reliant needs are. An important part of being an adult is being self-sufficient. Having 100 questions that could be easily answered with, wait for it...LOOKING AROUND FOR YOURSELF are not things that will make service pleasing. The bathrooms are in the back. Cream and sugar are around the corner at the condiment station where there's also a self-service water station. There's a ketchup bottle on your table. The WiFi password is written on that chalkboard. You get the point.
Don't Take Up More Space Than You Need
This is an essential rule to abide by. Yes, there may be an open booth that can seat a party of twelve, and yes you are a party of two waiting on a table at 7pm on a Friday night. But take into consideration that this is a business and they're banking on a bigger ticket than your two free waters and two entrees before you embark on the rest of your "date night". This is the hostess' job. They'll make sure you're seated in the appropriate spot that helps the business operate smoothly while giving you a satisfactory experience. On top of that, once seated, gauge your noise level and recognize that other people are trying to have a nice evening out too. Be respectful of other patrons' experiences.
Know Why You're There
Reflect on your motivation to enter a business. What do they offer that you're there to seek? What review or word-of-mouth suggestion sent you there? Are you at a concert or movie or production of some sort that requires a certain level of your attention that you're willing to give up that evening? Asking "what's good here?" is one question you should remove from your vernacular when you go out. Here is a hint; everything. No server is going to say one thing is better than another. More than likely, their suggestions are going to largely depend on your tastes. Explain to them what you types of things you enjoy and ask what they offer that is similar. This will help you avoid receiving a dish or drink that is less than satisfactory. Who knows, maybe their suggestion will teach you something about yourself that you didn't know.
Don't Be a Dick
Instigating fights over meaningless occurrences isn't worth the time or the effort. For anyone.
For the Love of God, Read the Menu
When handed a menu or standing in front of a menu, that is the business' way of immediately answering your questions before they should ever arise. Businesses take a lot of effort and time constructing these menus from front-to-back in order to answer all of your questions. Take your time to keep yourself from asking something that could have been answered by reading two lines.
Wait Your Freakin' Turn
To thine own self be true. You should know your limits as a person and a customer as to how long you will wait for XYZ. Most people in the service industry will give you a clear heads up if waiting for a certain table, dish, item, drink, whatever will mean a long wait. At this point, you have a decision to make. You can either wait for whatever it is, or move onto something else. The burden of communication is key to both the employees and the customer. If something is taking too long, don't be afraid to inquire (politely) with an employee. They'll make sure to give you an answer and figure out what's going on, or even make it up to you; albeit a discount, free appetizer or in some other way.
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Some of you may agree with Mr. Pink and think tipping is the dumbest thing to ever exist in the history of existence, and if they don't like how much they get paid, then they should get a better job. Some of you may even have your own standard for tipping that means 15% is your max tip at all times no matter how good the service is. You're entitled to your own beliefs on the matter and tipping has always been an optional activity for you to participate in. Most service industry employees make (on average) $2.15 per hour. That's less than a third of the current minimum wage in the state of Texas. More often than not, the employee is going to do everything within their power to make sure that they AT LEAST get another $5 or more in any given hour. And their solution? It's going to be to give you the best damn service that they can. Certainly, there may be discrepancies. The kitchen is backed up, they were given too many tables at once and are juggling their time trying to give everyone attention and facilitating needs. Tips may turn into rent money. It can be your way of playing coach and telling them "way to hustle". If you scratch their back, they'll be sure to scratch yours. Delete that "tip calculator" app you downloaded and tip! I'm not saying if you don't tip, you shouldn't go out. I am saying that if you don't tip, you are a bad person.
Take Your Yelp Review and Shove It
Yelp is probably the biggest joke when it comes to accurately depicting a business. Reading through negative reviews can lend great amounts of insight as to where that customer took a wrong turn. Not EVERY negative review is wrong, but bitching about having a 2 hour wait for Sunday Brunch and giving a business 1 star review? Really? Think about our life. The reason why Yelp doesn't work is that the large majority of Yelp reviews are based on ONE experience with that business. Just because I tried asparagus once when I was a kid and didn't like it, doesn't mean that asparagus is the worst thing in the world and NO ONE SHOULD EVER SPEND MONEY ON ASPARAGUS EVER EVER EVER. So, if you're a regular customer at any business, please do me a solid favor and leave those businesses a review. Those are the types of reviews that have value and substance to letting future patrons know what to expect. This is the only way I can think of to solving the problems that are caused by one-time customers blaming businesses for their own possible missteps.
If you take a look at the Kessler's latest Yelp reviews, you'll see how the Dallas community came together as a whole, because they've invested their own time and money into it, in order to battle unjust reviews.
Going out on the town isn't about anarchy of social norms and entitlement to feeling pampered and getting perfect treatment. You're interacting with a diverse world and with other humans. Let's all do this together. The customer is not always right. Capiche?