Before I show you how to deal with rude guests, let me tell you a real story:
-Here is your meal, sir – I placed the plate in front of the old man and very politely asked – would you like to have some salt or fresh black pepper?
The gentleman was very old. Obviously, he could not take good care of himself because he was always stinking badly when he visited the restaurant. But, unfortunately, the man was a famous professor, with a lot of money and a terrible attitude, who I had to serve daily:
-You have never worked in a restaurant like this before, did you – he hissed at me with terrifying animosity as loud as he could.
-No, sir, I haven’t – I lied politely and looked around to check on my other guests. Everyone was looking at me with pity!
-You never put anything extra on a meal like this. The chef knows what he is doing – the old man explained importantly and started eating.
I was happy to let him do whatever he wanted, as long as I didn’t have to deal with him for the rest of the evening. I was already used to his mean talk, but I couldn’t deny it bothered me a lot. So I had to find a way to flip this man around.
On the very next day, my luck worked out, and I was standing at my station with the restaurant manager when the old professor walked in. Christian greeted him with a broad smile and pure joy:
-Good evening, Herr Professor. So nice to see you again!
The old man beamed like a Christmas tree and sat silently on his regular table.
I replicated the same greeting with mixed success for the next couple of days. First, the professor looked at me with the same animosity as before and still gave me a hard time during the evening.
The second day, I received a suspicious look but not much trouble after that. He pointed with his finger to me on the third day and almost smiled on the fourth. From then on, I never again had any worries from this old man. We became friends. I took good care of him, and he left me a fat tip every visit.
HOW DO DEAL WITH RUDE GUESTS
There are four main reasons why do we encounter rude guests:
- Something went wrong before the guest arrived, and he was already mad when he entered the restaurant.
- The guest arrived in a good mood, but something went wrong with the kitchen or the service, and he went ballistic.
- We have one of those guests that are never happy, and they are always rude and nasty, no matter what.
- We have a player on the table. The guest is drunk, doesn’t care about you or anyone else, and acts like he is the king and you are the servant who has to obey his every wish.
First and foremost is to keep your composure.
Apologize immediately and offer them your help. You will be surprised how well that works. Those people expect you to get upset or to fight back. They have been rude to many people in the past, and this is the typical reaction; they expect the same from you. Surprise them with your professionalism and kindness; don’t fight back, don’t try to explain anything. Tell them they have the right to be upset and that you will try everything possible to accommodate their wishes. Then continue with the steps of handling guest’s complaints.
Don’t run away and avoid this guest for the rest of the evening. This will only make the situation worst.
Don’t leave your station and your other guests unattended.
Remember that it takes time for most people to calm down, so give this guest time.
80% of those situations are resolved in the first few minutes if you take the correct steps:
-offer a solution or your help
-keep providing all the guests on your station with excellent service
-take pride in your job and how you handle a situation like that
-show empathy to the guest – they are probably going through some terrible time, or they are just a miserable person. We should feel sorry for them and don’t let their misery infect us in any way
-Forget this guest and situation the moment they are out of the door
Do not cave in, don’t panic, don’t over apologize! This will give the guest more incentives to be even ruder!
If you think that the guest is getting abusive or aggressive, step back and call your manager.
Warning: The following video contains explicit and vulgar language!
How to deal with rude guests in the restaurant is part of our Free Online Waiter Training Course. For comprehensive waiter training and develop your skills and knowledge, sign up and start the course now.