Too Many Customers

In business, we want to have more customers, right? After all, generally speaking, the more customers we have, the more revenue.  What happens, though, when we suddenly have too many customers to handle?

When we get a surge in customers, it can be problematic.  We can get backlogged in orders, email and voice mails can pile up, issues are not addressed promptly, and we run the risk of losing customer, perhaps even alienating some of our long term customers, who knew us when we were a small shop and could dedicate our time to each and every customer.

In thinking about this, I am reminded of a luncheon that I attended this week with about 30 people. As I looked around the restaurant, this was obviously a larger party than the typical lunch group (a quick count showed anywhere from 2 to 6 people at the other tables).  My own experience in attending these types of gatherings has been that it is common for the food to take forever to arrive, drinks and side dishes are often mixed up and in general, the experience is apt to be sub-par, when compared to the smaller groups of 2 to 6 people.

Today, however, the restaurant appeared ready to handle a large group.  As the first half of our group arrived, a server appeared with glasses of water and within a few minutes, had water in front of all of the chairs, whether occupied or not.   Immediately after that, two servers appeared and started taking orders from both ends of the table. 

As soon as they finished, another server appeared with free appetizers (this was an Italian restaurant that serves complementary warm bread and butter) for the table.  Within minutes, our salads started appearing  and on it went…

As you can tell, this restaurant’s management and wait staff were very customer focused, regardless of how many customers were in the party.  This is a refreshing change from the all too common mentality of, “ok, it’s a big group, let’s feed them so we can get our $200, $300 or even $500 and our tips and move on.”

Lessons learned for the rest of us:

1 – When a surge happens, throw resources at it. Don’t leave the usual number of staff to fend for themselves.

2 – Do whatever is needed to keep the standard processes for communication and delivery on target.  In this case, our food was rolled out to us in about the same amount of time that it would normally take for a smaller group.  This has quite a bit to do with #1.

3 – Have good staff in place that are trained to deal with these surges.  I did not see a manager approach our table during the entire 90 minutes.  They did not have to, as our wait staff were taking care of us 100%.

4 – When there is an issue, correct it immediately. Sure, we had a few mixed up orders (one missing Coke and one plate that went to the wrong person – to be fair, the plate went to the person who said, “that’s mine,” which is no fault of the restaurant.  For each issue, they addressed it immediately and corrected it.

If you can share any of your own lessons learned, I would love to hear them.

Thanks for reading,



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