Feb 232012

Just Say No

Just Say No

An OnlyOnce reader submitted this story to me a couple months ago:

Went to a small, high-end restaurant last night. There were ~10 people there when our party of 9 arrived. Another group of 10 arrived soon after – amusingly, the chef declined to allow them to be seated. I asked him why afterwards – he turned down at least $1,000 worth of business. (like 30% of what he could have made that night).

His answer : Our quality would have suffered, and then they would have walked away thinking less of us.

Wow. What a revolutionary idea. Turning down money in light of maintaining your reputation and quality of service.

I’ve had this experience before — have you?  It’s a phenomenal statement, full of courage, and also common sense.  But how often do we entrepreneurs practice it as oppose to just saying “more more more” when presented with revenue opportunities?  This is particularly difficult in the early stages of a business’ life, when customer dollars are harder to come by.  But probably worth doing 9 times out of 10.

Filed under: Business, Sales


  • Dana

    That sounds so…French! Things like that happen often in France. I respect business owners who put the integrity of their product (whatever it is) before profit. With a philosophy like that, balanced of course with good reason, the money will follow. I hope that chef's attitude catches on in the U.S. And I hope you enjoyed your meal! :)

    • Matt Blumberg

      Non!  J

  • Viral

    This is a nice post. Although, I would question the "then they would have walked away thinking less of us" rationale. Declining customers a seat in the restaurant when they (are probably hungry and) expected to be served (food) is a failure even greater than them "thinking less of us" on product quality.
    A product or a service consumed by the customer can have a level of quality (good or bad). A product or service not consumed by the customer does not have any quality.
    I can see that those customers would not return to the restaurant again.. Once bitten twice shy..

    • Matt Blumberg

      Hard to say on the specific example. Sometimes scarcity creates demand.But certainly your point makes sense in lots of scenarios.Thanks for the comment!Matt

  • Angel

    That's quite a story matt! I had also this kind of experience but not on a restaurant. I hate to admit it but sometimes this kind of restaurant need to close or fire there employee. The restaurant had no quality service with their customers! I do agree with viral!

    VZ 58