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Lush Life | Free drinks suck

In every bar and restaurant in the world there is a customer who is expecting something for free, a little “thank you” for choosing that particular place to dine or drink. That customer is part of the reason that 90 percent of all restaurants fail within the first three years. File photo.
In every bar and restaurant in the world there is a customer who is expecting something for free, a little “thank you” for choosing that particular place to dine or drink. That customer is part of the reason that 90 percent of all restaurants fail within the first three years. File photo.

In every bar and restaurant in the world there is a customer who is expecting something for free, a little “thank you” for choosing that particular place to dine or drink. That customer is part of the reason that 90 percent of all restaurants fail within the first three years.

In Myrtle Beach, the competition is high in the hospitality industry. Hotels, bars, restaurants and clubs must all offer massive incentives to entice people to choose their place of business.

When you couple the already-aggressive discounts that are masked as marketing with the expectations of a free gift, you can understand the negative impact a business will endure over time. If you are the person who goes to a particular bar because they “hook you up,” you are as much of the problem for our local economy as the place that enables you to expect the free drink.

The restaurant industry is the second largest industry in America, according to the National Restaurant Association, second only to the government.

In Myrtle Beach, I would argue that it surpasses government employees by more than double. This means that a lot of households depend on the exchange of money for product and services to put food on the table.

Owners, managers, bartenders and dishwashers all get paid from the same place. They make their living from customers who pay the bill and tip. If customers stop coming in with money, stop paying for drinks and stop the fair exchange, then none of the households that are represented by the employees that work there are being provided for. Families suffer because of your little “hook up.”

You may scoff that that is not your responsibility and that you are just out for a good time, but you would be wrong.

Our local economy is our responsibility. Keeping it and the people who live in it thriving is how the world works. You do not go into a clothing store expecting a free belt if you buy a pair of jeans, yet you expect free drinks if you sit at a bar and know the person making the drinks. Not only do you hurt the business, but you hurt the income potential of the chefs, cooks, dishwashers, host staff, managers, servers and bartenders. Your “good time” is negatively impacting the people who make Myrtle Beach work.

A lot of service industry people, especially bartenders, just gave me a virtual high-five. But let me say that you do not get something for nothing. In fact, most of the responsibility falls on your shoulders. You do not get a tip for just making drinks. Truth be told, making drinks is the smallest part of your job when we talk about our local economy.

The biggest part of the service industry is the service. If you do not provide the best service that you are capable of at all times, you are hindering the potential of the entire business. Just because someone sits are your bar, orders a drink and pays for it does not mean you deserve a tip.

A gratuity is a courtesy based on the service you provide. The bill that you drop is for the actual product and that is all that is required, by law, to be paid for. If you do not provide a reason to tip, the people will stop showing up. If the people stop showing up and paying for drinks, the entire business will fail. So, the weight of the business falls on your shoulders. Yet, owners hire based on looks instead of serviceability.

The 90 percent of restaurants that fail do so because they do not provide quality service and they hide that fact by giving away drinks. That is not to say that happy hour is bad. That is to say that you still have to show up and do the work even if you are running a promotion. A promotion is designed to build business long-term, not to bring people in for a cheap experience.

The dance between the place and the customer has grown progressively more difficult. Customers will not hesitate to write a “review” on their Facebook status if they do not get what they want. The problem is that most of you just want a deal. You do not want or expect things to be done properly, in a unique way or in line with a businesses plan. You have said that you want something for free despite quality or delivery. That alone is killing our food scene.

The duty of the restaurant or bar is to provide excellent service, great food and great drink. The duty of the customer is to go to a place that offers the things you want, order from the menu provided, pay for the product and tip the people that provide great service. That is how the biggest industry in Myrtle Beach works and that is how it is able to continue.

Service is not defined by giving you everything you want, when you want it and at little or no cost. That is called stupid. If you expect to walk into an Italian restaurant and order a California Roll, you have a serious problem. If you expect a complimentary glass of wine because you eat there every week, you are the worst customer imaginable. When we omit the expectation of free stuff, we actually drive an entire industry forward. We begin to hold the service industry professionals accountable to the service we expect.

If everyone plays their role to the best of their ability, we will grow our economy. Simply by not getting a free drink.

Cheers!

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