I address this to any type of hospitality business that has a partnership running the business, whether it be a married or civil union couple, an actual legal business partnership or one that’s simply run with one’s significant other.
If you wouldn’t argue, bicker or get into a full blown tiff with your partner (whomever they might be) in front of a guest or customer, do vendors the courtesy of putting your “public” face on for them as well. This should be common sense but its not, because many hospitality businesses treat vendors as if they are invisible.
Businesses may not realize it, but many times a vendor is actually, or may potentially be, a customer of your business. And in addition they can be the influencer of others, both positively and negatively.
That commercial photographer you are paying big bucks for, or the foodservice salesman, no matter how you personally feel about a company they are representing, are people who can be made to feel uncomfortable and can get negative connotations about your business, from being subjected to sometimes major disagreements that occur right in front of them.
I recall being the Chef in quite a few restaurants that were run by couples or business partners, and having vendors come in to take orders, witnessing on occasion a major blowout about finances, staff training techniques or the sloppy service of a new waiter that one partner didn’t like. Not only is this dirty laundry that your airing to someone who is not staff and they may also talk about it to others (who are current customers or may become future customers) but its rude and unprofessional. If you wouldn’t have a tiff about it in the dining room in front of a group of customers, you shouldn’t be snarking about it in front of a vendor either. I was recently doing a consult in a restaurant and witnessed a poor wine vendor get pinned like a butterfly in between two partners exchanging verbally poisoned darts at one another. It was interesting (and somewhat painful) to watch his expressions range from utterly embarrassed to downright horror.
I’ve had many a salesperson comment to me privately that they love the restaurant I worked at, but won’t come to eat there because of having witnessed something that made them uncomfortable. What does that say about the restaurant and what is the probability that your sales rep has made a comment to someone else about it? Highly likely.
Several years ago I was doing a photo shoot at a large inn, while I was there a Gilchrist & Soames rep was there to talk to the innkeepers, she ended up being subjected to a large (and loud) extended argument (which I caught the tale end of) about the cost of throwaway amenities and some details about their financial situations which was apparently a bit TMI. She commented to me after, that while she thought the inn was gorgeous and they were doing a great job with it, that she could never come to stay there as a guest after witnessing that, because she now got negative “vibes” from it. Guest lost. Strike one. How many people will she maybe mention this to? Probably several. Potential guests lost, you may never know. Strike two. Damage to your reputation by word of mouth. Strike three.
This is something important to think about in the age of social media. This SHOULD be common sense. Your Sysco salesman might not make a public comment online anywhere or may not tell anyone in person about being subjected to a spat between two partners, but may make a offhand comment on their private facebook page………….to 600 friends who are foodies.