A business model that holds no water - GulfToday

A business model that holds no water

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

Eating Out

Eating out can be heavy on your pocket.

In most countries eating out can be an expensive affair. That’s why in most Western countries especially, it’s not done too often. Most just stick to twice a month or to just special occasions. I have to admit though that when I worked in London, during lunch times two of my colleagues ate at nearby restaurants almost every single day. The rest of us often wondered how the two of them could afford to eat out every single day when the rest of us brought in packed lunches or picked up cheap sandwiches from local supermarkets.

Eating out can be heavy on your pocket. The actual cost of the meal includes the cost of the ambience, the menu design, the music, the service and even the tableware on which your food is served.

But no part of the actual meal includes the drinks. That, of course, is an additional cost and, if you drink alcoholic beverages with your meal, that can cost can be astronomical. This is why many a patron often go for just plain water.  It is a sad fact now that if you do dare to order plain tap water rather than bottled water, the chances are that you will irk the owner of the establishment. In fact, this is just what happened at a food and bar place in the UK. A bar owner, who also served food on the side, complained to her customers on social media that when they ask for free tap water instead of ordering one of the ‘proper’ drinks they were hurting her profits since her main business was selling alcohol.

Of course she received a fair amount of backlash and an equally fair amount of business advice. Some people responded with something along the lines that how much profit she made or didn’t make was not the customer’s concern. If she found that she was serving food at the expense of her main item (the alcohol) then she needed to revisit her business model. I think that was good advice.

Usually customers go in to a particular place to eat and drink because they’re hungry and thirsty and not because they want to help the owner make more money. They’ll, therefore, order what they can afford and will never order anything costly just to help out the owner. That is just the stuff of comedies. After all, only Jerry Seinfeld would go into a restaurant and help the owner Babu Bhatt. But don’t you agree that buying drinks and bottled water in restaurants is always more expensive than buying it from a supermarket? And this is just for soft drinks, juices and water. Now imagine someone ordering alcoholic beverages. Or not, as the case is now.

Owners of eateries should expect their patrons to order items based on their needs and not something that will help prop up the restaurant. It’s like going into one of those new-fangled bookshops where you can get a coffee and sit down to read one of their books.

The business model here is that the customer will buy the coffee, read a book and when the coffee is finished they’ll buy the book they were reading because it became interesting for them. But when they put the book back on the shelf and walk out, the bookshop owner complains that their customers are just buying the coffee and reading the books for free. Those very books that they paid huge sums of money to ship into their shops. Yes, something isn’t working in this picture but it’s not the customer’s fault. Clearly, there’s something wrong with the business model. If you own a bar that also serves food on the side you need to get used to the fact that sometimes customers will order just the food and tap water, which is free. Moreover, there are a myriad reasons people avoid drinking. They could be driving home. They could be going back to work. They may not be drinking for religious reasons. They could be recovering from addiction, and you’re the only food outlet in their vicinity. Or it could be the simple fact that they just want to drink tap water. But even if they could afford it they may choose not to drink simply because they don’t feel like it.

No establishment owner should hold it against his customers and, more importantly for business reasons, no owner should whine about it in public. No one agreed that customers ordering free tap water, instead of alcohol, were causing her to make losses. In fact, many customers began giving her bad reviews and that they’d now avoid her bar like the plague. Sadly a bad move on the part of the owner.