Charmless Bartender Suppresses Beer Sales (A Cautionary Tale)


A few nights ago, I visited a brew pub with Melissa and two out-of-town guests to grab a bite and some beer.

Along with our meal, we got a lesson in customer service — or lack thereof.

I saddled up to the bar first. The bartender spotted me. But she didn’t greet me. She was removing glasses from the dishwasher, and had a look on her face that said, “Don’t bother me. I’m busy.”

A minute passed before she finished her glass stacking project and walked toward me.

“What can I get you?” she mumbled. No “Hello.” No smile. No charm.

“I’m waiting on my friends,” I said, pointing toward Melissa and our guests who were chatting at the far end of the room. I smiled and added, “They should be here within the hour.”

Charmless turned around in a huff. I thought of calling her back to say, “I was JOKING. I’m sure they’ll be here within 30 minutes.” 😜

But I worried she might throw a glass at me.

Melissa and our friends joined me a minute later. The bartender was busy again – rearranging the lemons and limes. Charmless turned toward us. I smiled at her. She nodded and rearranged some more fruit.

Then she walked over to us and didn’t say a word. She just stood there with a look on her face that said, “Get on with it. Tell me what you want. I need to tend to some fruit.”

We ordered our beers and burgers. We waited as she marched from tap to tap, filled the glasses, and placed them on the bar.

When she’d done her duty, I smiled again and said, “Thank you very much.”

Charmless turned toward the fruit station, her back toward me, and said, “Yeah.”

We took our beers to a table near the bar. The table was wobbly as a flamingo on a unicycle.

Our friend Mary said, “I’ll go to the bar and see if they have a shim.”

I thought, “Don’t do it! This will not go well.”

Mary strode up to the bar, smiled at the bartender, and said, “Our table is super wobbly. Do you have a shim or something we could use to steady it?”

Charmless looked as if Mary asked her to donate a kidney.

“No,” she barked. And that was that.

I finished my beer and thought about ordering another. But I didn’t. Why would I put myself through more misery?

And therein lies the lesson.

Lousy service suppresses sales.

In fact, even slightly sub-par service suppresses sales.

Last week, during a meeting of Brian Kurtz’s Titans XL mastermind, we discussed how smart businesses treat customer service as a marketing/sales investment, not an operations cost.

When you treat customers well, they come back for more. They become loyal, repeat customers. They become champions who tell others.

More repeat business. More referrals. Greater profits.

I may return to the brew pub (the beer and burgers are great). But I’m not rushing back.

If someone asks me about the place, I won’t rave about it. I’ll tell them, “The food is good. The service? Not so much.”

I’m not the only one who’d say that.

Don't go away yet..

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.