by J.S. Holland
You don't have be a new-ager or a transdimensional seer to grasp the basic idea that life's too short to surround yourself with junk that's bringing you down. This of course applies to people, but it also applies to products and businesses. Too many people out there are eating food they don't like and buying stuff they don't need, out of some sort of I-don't-even-WTF-to-call-it that makes them allow the will of others to supersede their own.
I gained something of a reputation back in Louisville as being "that guy" who gets up in the middle of a play and walks out. I don't mean to cause a scene about it, and I try to find a dimly-lit moment to make my exit as inobtrusive as possible, but I've been dragged to too many horrible plays that I politely sat through and then went home in a bad mood and grumbled about how that's two hours of my life I'll never get back. So I don't do that anymore.
Dr. Bill: I never did understand why you walked away.
Nick Nightingale: It's a nice feeling. I do it a lot.
One of Florida's biggest problems is customer service, and I find myself once more becoming "The Walkout King" as I find myself sitting at tables in restaurants that I'm just not feeling. (Much to the weary irritation of my dinner companions.) But you know, why settle for anything less than greatness? If a restaurant can't be bothered to give me their A-game, I can't be bothered to whip out the American Express card.
Today in Jacksonville Beach, we stopped into a place I won't name; one that presents itself as a Tiki Bar (and I suppose it is, in a sort of lowest-common-denominator frat-boy way.) It got bad reviews on the Internet, said one of my dining companions. I don't put stock in Internet reviews, but it must be said the place was completely empty when we walked in. Not a soul except a bored-looking waitress who, 20 seconds into taking our order, started arguing with us about the coupon we tried to use from their website. "Oh, that one doesn't apply to this location," she said, despite having it pointed out to her that the coupon made no such distinction. Then she said there were no frozen drinks. She didn't say why, but I have a suspicion it's because business was so non-existent, they didn't bother firing up the machine today.
All eyes at the table looked over to me, watching my enthusiasm for this place plummet, waiting for the inevitable words.
We went across the street to a fantastic place called The Pier Cantina. As it turned out, they had no frozen drinks either this day - their machine was down (protip: always keep a spare, boys.) But the server apologized profusely and did a kick-ass job at his post. The food was delicious. The ambience, overlooking the ocean, was superb. The drinks were excellent. But most importantly, customer service was top-notch. As my pal Grant Cardone has noted, and you better listen good to him:
I once told a salesperson that I wanted to pay cash for the product, at which time he said, “You don’t want to pay cash for it; you should finance it.” His response created a block to my power of decision and lessened my enthusiasm for continuing to do business with him. By disagreeing with me, the salesperson created a barrier to what should have been an easy sale. He could have simply said, “Cash would be great, sir.” Then as he was taking my cash, he could have shown me both the cash price and the alternative if I financed, at which point I would have at least considered the alternative as a choice, not a “make wrong.”
A business that has zero customers had damn well better cheerfully honor all coupons if they want to stay in business, instead of giving a convoluted explanation to the customer why he's wrong and why this coupon "doesn't count for this location." The Pier gets ALL my business now when in this part of Jax Beach, baby.