About last month …
Folks, I’m thrilled that my column smacking a bit on the private dining scene in Dallas last month did exactly what I wanted it to do: Get people talking.
But there is always a “but.” You didn’t change my opinion or my experience as an outsider dealing with your city. Also keep in mind that we’re are all going to have our own experiences and opinions. In 15 years of working all over the world, including 23 countries outside the United States, I had never met such resistance to opening on Sunday when a space was considered closed.
What I shared wasn’t intended to upset you, Dallas. I wanted to get the attention of chef-owners who might have this sort of person working for them and, if so, educate them. It’s hard to be a chef-owner. They have to work twice as hard to create their recipes and standard operating procedures. Employment laws, health insurance and their ability to buy in quantity greatly hinder them as lone operators.
The reason behind my column was a huge concern about someone who would so flippantly turn down business. I wanted that article be strong and to let chef-owners know that great business might be slipping through their fingers. If this got through to one chef then, to me, it was worth it.
Now, about this month … buyers stand up for yourselves!
I can’t tell you how often I’ve asked questions of a restaurant, hotel banqueting manager or chef only to be told:
- Don’t worry about it.
- We cook this all the time.
- People love when we do this dish or this presentation.
- We just did this last week for 2,000 people.
This is where I, as a planner, have made my biggest mistakes. The mistake is not asking the questions. I don’t care if the owner, banqueting manager or chef blows me off. I tell them I need to know the answer. And you out there in buying land, you are owed an answer.
If you’re buying a car or a house, the salespeople answer your questions, don’t they? Absolutely. And the same should hold true for the hospitality industry. You’re owed that.
This is why I’ve learned to ask those pesky questions:
- Because it teaches me how different facilities operate and makes me better at what I do.
- If I didn’t ask questions until I was comfortable with the answers, and the event doesn’t go as planned, I could get fired for not doing the job I was hired to do.
- No one is so good that they shouldn’t politely answer my questions until I am satisfied.
- When you ask questions it makes the listener stop and think about your event. I want them to go into my event mentally for the length of time we’re speaking. They have to stop and envision the food, the layout, the flow, the type of fun the guests are having.
When you blow over details, you risk an event that doesn’t run smoothly. Don’t let people who won’t dive deep into your event with you stop you from learning what you need to know — until you are comfortable.
That’s my story for now, and I’m sticking to it.