Unexpected Consequences

A New York restaurant couldn’t understand what was happening. They were serving the same number of people as they did 10 years ago, but service was getting slower. That was despite having more staff and cutting down the menu. Unable to understand the anomaly, they hired an investigation company who compared digital CCTV pictures of the restaurant taken in  July 2004 with those taken in July 2014 and looked  at 45 customers from one day in July in each year. Here’s what they found:


Customers walk in.

They get seated and are given menus, out of 45 customers 3 request to be seated elsewhere.
Customers on average spend 8 minutes before closing the menu to show they are ready to order.
Waiters shows up almost instantly takes the order. Food starts getting delivered within 6 minutes..  Out of 45 customers 2 sent items back that where too cold.

Waiters keep an eye out for their tables so they can respond quickly if the customer needs something.
Customers are done, check delivered, and within 5 minutes they leave.

Average time from start to finish: 1:05


Customers walk in.

Customers get seated and is given menus, out of 45 customers 18 requested to be seated elsewhere.

Before even opening the menu they take their phones out, some are taking photos while others are simply doing something else on their  7 out of the 45 customers had waiters come over right away, they showed them something on their phone and spent an average of 5 minutes of the waiter’s time. Given this is recent footage,  waiters were asked  about this and they explained those customers had a problem connecting to the WIFI and demanded the waiters try to help them.

Finally the waiters are walking over to the table to see what the customers would like to order.
The majority have not even opened the menu and ask the waiter to wait a bit. Customer opens the menu, places their hands holding their phones on top of it and continue doing whatever on their phone.

Waiter returns to see if they are ready to order or have any questions. The customer asks for more time.

Finally they are ready to order. Total average time from when the customer was seated until they placed their order 21 minutes. Food starts getting delivered within 6 minutes,.

26 out of 45 customers spend an average of 3 minutes taking photos of the food.  14 out of 45 customers take pictures of each other with the food in front of them or as they are eating the food. This takes on average another 4 minutes as they must review and sometimes retake the photo.

9 out of 45 customers sent their food back to reheat.  Obviously if they hadn’t paused to do whatever on their phone the food wouldn’t have gone cold.

27 out of 45 customers asked their waiter to take a group photo.14 of those requested the waiter retake the photo as they were not pleased with the first photo. On average this entire process between the chit chatting and reviewing the photo taken added another 5 minutes and obviously caused the waiter not to be able to take care of other tables he/she was serving.

Given in most cases the customers are constantly busy on their phones it took an average of 20 minutes more from when they were done eating until they requested a check. Furthermore once the check was delivered it took 15 minutes longer than 10 years ago for them to pay and leave. 8 out of 45 customers bumped into other customers or in one case a waiter (texting while walking) as they were either walking in or out of the restaurant.

Average time from start to finish: 1:55

It’s an amusing anecdote about unexpected consequences, but it raises a serious question….how is the mobile communications revolution impacting on your business, and what can you do to accentuate the positive impact while reducing the negative effects like these?

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