One Bad Waiter Can Kill The Economy!


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Whenever I speak out against lousy service I feel I’m performing my civic duty.

Unfortunately, all too many service providers think I’m a Johnny Damon, a team switcher, a traitor to the corporate cause. They wonder how can I be sincerely interested in helping consumers if my consulting income is provided by companies?

Of course, that’s a naive question. We drink from the same well, because we’re all consumers.

When service standards are high, companies prosper and the economy grows, not only because of job creation and a more robust tax base. It grows because consumers are confident.

They’re confident enough to spend, because they anticipate they’ll get value, and that includes proper treatment and the right help when they need it.

Have you ever noticed how the releasing of consumer confidence numbers can rock Wall Street? Investors know that when confidence plunges, spending dries up. People cut back, and the economy as a whole recedes.

Consider your own everyday behavior. When are you more likely to order dessert: when your waiter has been exceedingly upbeat and efficient, or when he has been rude?

While we’re at it, let’s imagine the impact that just one exceedingly rude waiter can have on the economy.

If he offends us, minimally, we’ll very possibly take our trade elsewhere. Moreover, we may generalize his conduct, imputing it to restaurants in general, making us cut back on eating out.

Statistics also suggest that we’ll tell at least 5-10 of our friends and associates about our negative experience, and our warning will discourage them from frequenting the place.

Profits will decline, and the offending restaurant may decide to forego plans to expand, or to open new units. It may be forced to lay off workers. Instead of adding to the tax base, the business will become a drain on it.

The restaurant’s service quality will probably decline further, because the single sourpuss who disserved us will infect others with his bad attitude. They’ll model after him, making it hard to recruit and retain “positive" people.

The place will earn a bad reputation in the trade, and that word, careening through the supply chain, will also wend its way down to customers.

Fostering such a poor restaurant, the entire area may slide into decay. If the restaurant shutters its doors, this may make a future restaurateur think twice about locating in a spot where a predecessor failed. An empty storefront will also rattle the confidence of neighboring businesses, residents, and workers.

Nearby hotels, dependent in part on neighborhood eateries to attract guests, will also be affected. Again, the tax base will shrink, and along with it, essential policing and other public services will decline. Further public investment in infrastructural improvements may be difficult to garner.

Travel agents may discourage vacationers and businesspeople from going to an increasingly seedy or blighted destination. Meeting planners may elect to take their lucrative conferences and conventions, elsewhere.

Once a critical mass of decay has been reached, it could take years or decades for the neighborhood to regenerate.

If you think I’m going overboard, recall this vision, paraphrased from Shakespeare:

For want of a nail, a shoe was lost. For want of a shoe, a horse was lost. For want of a horse a rider was lost. For want of a rider, a battle was lost. For want of a battle, the war was lost.

For want of a good waiter, our economy could be lost.

Dr. Gary S. Goodman, President of, is a popular keynote speaker, management consultant, and seminar leader and the best-selling author of 12 books, including Reach Out & Sell Someone® and Monitoring, Measuring & Managing Customer Service. A frequent guest on radio and television, worldwide, Gary’s programs are offered by UCLA Extension and by numerous universities, trade associations, and other organizations in the United States and abroad. Gary is headquartered in Glendale, California. He can be reached at (818) 243-7338 or at: .


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