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Had a bummer of an experience yesterday evening at Lone Star Steakhouse. We ordered up 3 big meals for the adults and there was plenty of food to share with the kids to save a few bucks and not buy kids meals, and just get them drinks. Sounds like a noble plan, right?

When we got the ticket, each of the kids drinks was $2.50 … about 4 ounces of Coke in a plastic kiddy cup costs the same as a 4 liters at the grocery store. No thanks. I joked on the way home I should write them a note and ask them to reconsider that price – paying the same for a tiny child’s drink and an adult drink with unlimited refills just doesn’t make sense.

Well, I actually did write them a note in their online comment form last night. The owner of the resturant wrote me back less than 12 hours later explaining that drinks are free with a kids meal, but would look into the pricing issue of drinks by themselves. An hour later he shot me a second note and agreeed that they were definitely overpriced, and suggested the price be $1.29 instead. He said that if I found that acceptable, he would put it into motion and in a week all of the stores in this area would update their pricing of children’s drinks.

I told him we would visit in a couple of weeks and test it out, and how thankful I was for his quick and tactful response. Now I’m not here to promote Lone Star Steakhouse, but I feel there’s some pretty strong learnings from this interaction for all of us to share.

  1. It’s a big deal when a person who owns the company or runs the place pays attention to you. What are you in charge of? Who needs attention in your area of service?
  2. Response time is always critical. How long do you respond to a frustrated parent? Do you avoid confrontation and the expense of reputation?
  3. Is there something that needs to be changed? Don’t be overzealous in your own wisdom to think you might not have missed something legitimate. Too often we dismiss criticism when we should follow it. An honest criticism is a warning before a problem gets bigger and someone goes above you or never visits your restaurant (church) again.
  4. How can you turn a critic into a rabid fan? Because that’s what happened to me.

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