Welcome to the the Ivey HBA Retail Marketing Management blog. Retail marketing is an exciting, dynamic, important, and very visible aspect of the overall field of marketing. Throughout the year, students will be posting comments regarding contemporary retailing issues. Although this is intended to be used by Bus 4411 students, industry marketing professionals are also invited to join in if they like.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Symposium: Great Product, Terrible Service

Have any of you ever been to Symposium? It is a restaurant on the corner of Richmond and Central and it has great food. Good food, however, is only half the battle. Every time that I have gone to Symposium it is has been a tremendously frustrating experience.

For some reason, there are always only two waiters working at a given time. Even though there are more tables than two waiters can effectively serve, the Owner of Symposium refuses to pay for additional help. I guess I understand the logic. As long as Symposium doesn’t lose any customers, why not save money by having a small staff?

Unfortunately for Symposium, if they continue to make people wait way too long for their food, customers are going to stop coming back. I am one of these customers. The first time I went to Symposium the service was horrendous. I had to wait so long for an omelette that I began to think that they ran out of eggs. However, when my meal finally arrived, it was very good. As a result, I decided to give the restaurant another chance.

Two weeks later, I returned to Symposium. Once again, there were only two waiters. However, since it was not a peak time, the restaurant was practically empty. As a result, the service was satisfactory. Since the food was great, as usual, I decided that I would come back to Symposium in the near future.

The next week, I returned to the restaurant at peak time. When I walked in, I was hoping to see some additional staff. However, once again there were only two waiters. Clearly, these waiters could not handle the volume of customers at the restaurant. Although my meal was great, the terrible service ruined the entire experience. The quality of food was simply not enough to make up for the poor service, so I decided not to go back to the restaurant.

In my opinion, Symposium is making a terrible mistake. The restaurant seems to be concerned only with its short term performance without thinking about the long term implications of its actions. By having fewer staff, Symposium is keeping its costs low and improving the restaurant’s profits. In the long term, however, Symposium is destined for failure. If the restaurant’s service remains as it is, customers will simply stop coming back. While Symposium’s costs will remain low, its revenues will begin to shrink. As a result, the restaurant’s profits will disappear.

Symposium has a tremendous opportunity to succeed. The food is great and the restaurant is in an ideal location. However, restaurants, like any retail store, cannot simply rely on their products to sell themselves. While a good product is obviously important, quality service is just as crucial. Without good service, any restaurant or retail store will find it very difficult to achieve long term success.

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