Setting The Right Tone
Many businesses don’t recognize the importance of setting the right tone. There are several things that play a role in this; from the projected attitude of staff down to the words you put on your menu.
There is a local brunch spot nearby that my wife and I recently tried out. The restaurant has a typical down-home diner atmosphere with a simple but appealing menu. We were excited to try some of their "famous" cream chipped beef, but I was caught off guard when I took a look at the menu. The very first thing I noticed in bold red print said “no substitutions!” Although I wasn't planning on asking for a substitution, I was instinctually put on the defense.
Why would an establishment include such an off-putting statement on their menu? As a self-declared at home chef, I understand the pride a chef takes in their dishes and that making special accommodations is not the most efficient way to run a kitchen. But instead of using this definitive statement, in a color and font that conveys negativity, they could try to enforce this policy in a much gentler manner.
The wait staff could be trained to provide a simple answer when asked for substitutions. This avoids setting a negative tone for anyone who would not have asked for a substitution in the first place. If they truly felt the need to include it on the menu, they could word it “substitution request can’t always be honored but we’ll do our best.”
This sets a tone that opens the door for a good experience in contrast to an argumentative tone of the printed warning. That’s just good common sense!