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Limiting modifications

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

So I'm running a sandwich shop in a pretty ritzy part of town where we've finally hit the point that modifications need to be met with some kind of hard line.  Not only does it throw off my food cost but it slows down the service tremendously.  Since it's a sandwich shop, I get it that we should be pretty flexible but after 5 years, I'm starting to see the dark side of it.  

 

So the owner had me put together some verbage to use on social media as well as around the shop to help steer us toward something more consistent and efficient.  Can you guys give me your 2 cents on this little tidbit as well as your own feelings on modifications to menu items?

 

I made a fake ticket to show what one of these orders looks like.

 

TO OUR BELOVED CUSTOMERS:

 

There comes a time where changes must be made in order to improve the overall quality and efficiency of a business and better serve its customers.  Since its inception in 200X, (insert name here) has always strived for satisfaction of each and every one of our customers by accommodating their needs and being flexible with our modifications.  However, as the volume of our lunch services increase, the amount of time required to fulfill each order increases proportionately. 

        To clarify the specifics of modifying menu items, we used this order as an example.  The ticket not only appears confusing to read but also moves further and further away from the way we have intended it to be enjoyed.  All of our menu times are conceptualized for a specific flavor, starting with the type of bread we use to the types toppings, spread and cheeses.  So when you think about it, each sandwich is like a thankful “Hello” from us to you. 

       We understand that everyone eats a bit different and allergies are something to be aware of, so we gladly offer the option to remove any items you’d rather not have, while kindly turning down any substitutions not listed on our Add-On menu.  This list can be found on our online menu as well as in the restaurant and features many add-ons and substitutions that pair well with our sandwiches like hot peppers, avocado, fried eggs, or spicy bread-and-butter pickles.  We also now offer any of our burgers or the chicken pesto to be made as salads for a ($X) upcharge due to extra ingredients and disposables used in the process.  In the long run, this adjustment will make it easier to get in and out during the lunch break hours, which we know are so precious to our clientele.  We thank you for your continued patronage and look forward to many more years of sandwichery...

post #2 of 11
Id delete the middle paragraph

But keep the graphic, even a moron can figure out that the result is no longer an Italian Sammie. Hilarious!
post #3 of 11

Mario Batali/Joe Bastianch use the "we'll take it off, but won't add anything" policy. Seems fairly agreeable to me. I have also seen "substitutions respectfully declined" printed on higher-end menus.

 

The Pandora's box you are opening, however, is that some guests will simply not patronize your establishment if they can't get what they want. As operators, we know that mods can disrupt the flow of the line. We also know that the menu was created to offer the best we can do. When that process and offering methods are disrupted, it can cause havoc. My philosophy? If I can accommodate the request in a reasonable amount of time, I will gladly do it. If it is an allergy/dietary concern, I will do my level best. Keep us posted on how this plays out.

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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post #4 of 11

"We do not accept substitutions on our signature sandwiches. If you order a sandwich by name, that is what you will get. If you want something else, just ask for a number 1 and the server will record your specific request."

A shorter statement is more likely to be read and understood. A longer explanation can be placed elsewhere.

     I wouldn't mention allergies in your announcement.  That opens up the loophole for obnoxious people to take advantage. Suddenly everyone will have an allergy. The first couple of times you encounter an allergy request,  be pleasant and helpful while letting them know the allergy request will be entered as a number one. Hold your ground and everyone will get the message. 

post #5 of 11
Quote:
 

A shorter statement is more likely to be read and understood. A longer explanation can be placed elsewhere.

   

 

 

The shorter, the better.

 

Nobody wants to OR will read that wall of text.

 

 

 

Jim Berman said it best, but it sounds like the box has already bean opened.

You need to slowly close it over time.

 

Also, those subs can wreck havoc on your FC.

Subbing avocado for 1000 island? Nope.

post #6 of 11

frostythespider,

 

I feel your pain about modifications going overboard. I worked at a small restaurant with die hard bar regulars and they felt extremely entitled to order things completely off the menu or substitute anything and everything they wanted essentially creating dishes not even close to what we actually serve. It was ridiculous. The way we dealt with it was up charging everything and of course it turned them off and created problems with them because they were so used to getting whatever they wanted at a normal price. Then of course bartenders wouldn't up charge certain patrons but would for others only inflaming the situation.

 

My advice for you is to remove the long 3 paragraph explanation of modifications. They don't care about your food costs or how hard it makes things for the kitchen, they just want their highly modified food at the menu price. Simply post that picture of the fake order with a short but witty note underneath. Make light of it, joke with customers and they'll get the idea. The goal is to get customers to not even ask for highly modified orders to begin with because once that floodgate is opened it's so hard to get it closed. People get pissed off, customers don't come back and it makes things worse.

 

Just my 2 cents.

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

Linecook854 and Jim Berman both hit it on the nose.

 

We have some verbage on our menu about such things, mostly just saying not all requests can be filled and modifications may be limited.  I spend a fair amount of time at the counter and I have seen some really heinous creations, people paying 14-15 dollars for something mediocre with things they could have easily prepared at home.  Having seen that, I try to curb it in a "this is for your own good" undertone and it's actually true 99% of the time.   

It really comes down to how you train your FOH as well, because if they can steer the person away from some bizarre modifications in the first place, then it prevents the whole scenario from even beginning.  For me, it's the main two items the guys ^ mentioned earlier.  Food cost and how much it will slow down the line.  

Thanks for the words

post #8 of 11

The place I'm at now is literally the worst I've ever seen in this regard.  I understand that people are paying for their food and want it how they want it.  But there's a point where it's just absurd.  We routinely get orders for stuff that we don't even have in the building.  It doesn't help that we have the worst FOH staff (overall) that I've ever worked with in a decent restaurant.  They know nothing about food and can't be bothered to even know our menu.

 

I dunno what the solution is to the OPs dilemma.  It comes down to the owner, GM and/or chef.  Whatever is allowed will be pushed to absolute limit.  And if you've been honoring every bullshit request, no matter how absurd, for a long time now it's almost impossible to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #9 of 11

Has anyone on here ever maintained an, "this is the food we make and serve, nothing else" approach to the menu? I mean other than allergies, why would one want to alter the items that created the regulars in the first place?

 

I have a complete understanding that satisfying the customer is important in building and maintain a consistent clientele, but if I'm selling my creation, why would I make it in any way their creation?

post #10 of 11

One response I learned for special requests is to firmly establish that I will make it; and they will pay for it.

     If I make what you are asking, you lose your right to say "I don't like it" and then expect me to comp it. I was very pleasant but direct about that.  I explained that the dish was thought out to be a certain way for a reason, because I'm a professional and I know what I"m doing. If necessary I would let them sample it so they could alleviate their concerns. The majority of the time people just went with the dish as it was intended. A couple of customers agreed to my terms and continued to come back and try other self created combinations always knowing they would have to pay in the end. 

post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedBeerd Cantu View Post
 

Has anyone on here ever maintained an, "this is the food we make and serve, nothing else" approach to the menu? I mean other than allergies, why would one want to alter the items that created the regulars in the first place?

 

I have a complete understanding that satisfying the customer is important in building and maintain a consistent clientele, but if I'm selling my creation, why would I make it in any way their creation?


At one time back in the prehistoric days we had a small diner in our town that specialized in burritos.  Burritos were the only menu item.  The place was mobbed almost all day long.  The owner was known as the "Burrito Nazi" and had a "my way or the highway" attitude.  Owner had a choice of 5 different burritos.  Modifications were verboten (or however that is said in Spanish) and customers were regularly asked to leave if they complained about that attitude.  If someone didn't like something he might tell them that they can pick it out and not eat it, or he might be a bit more gruff and just say "no".  Our joke was that 10% of the stools were only temporarily occupied by newcomers who thought they were at a "have it your way" kind of place.  For every disgruntled would-be-customer there were three more waiting for the stool so nobody cared much about disgruntled customers.  That was before Yelp; maybe things would be different.  As I said, his place was always mobbed and closed only because of urban renewal running him out of business.

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