How to Win Business On the Telephone

How to Win Business On the TelephoneHow to Win (or at Least, Not Lose) Business On the Telephone

Who Could It Be Now? How to Win (or at Least, Not Lose) Business On the Telephone

This is another important tip for restaurants (as well as retail stores).

How do you handle your phones?


“Given the ubiquitous use of email, social media and texting to communicate, your employees likely have less natural instinct and talent for communicating with customers than their predecessors. And the fact remains: Many guests still call restaurants for information, particularly for high-stakes events such as large dinner parties or to make banquet and catering arrangements.”

So here’s some of the problem I have when calling a restaurant retail store.

Inevitably, I speak to someone on the phone who doesn’t really want to be on the phone.

I need a table for six. What’s a good time to come?

“I have no idea. Sometimes it’s busy and sometimes it not. It’s pot luck.”

OK. That makes me feel pretty confident. I think I’ll go somewhere else.

Have you every tried calling BestBuy, Office Depot or other large stores? They appear to have about given up on any type of telephone service.

A call to most retail stores will get you someone who is probably in the middle of texting and isn’t very enthusiastic about answering any questions.

Have you ever tried calling a restaurant at 2 PM? Whoever answers the phone has no time to speak to potential customers.

“We don’t take reservations. We normally have a long line.”

Wouldn’t it be better to suggest coming in at 9 PM or 6 PMin order to avoid the line?

Nothing could be worse than having an answering machine pick up the phone. Sorry. You have reached Ralph’s Store. We are all busy. Call back at another time.

You get the idea. Maybe it would be nice to treat customers nicely when they call. You never know who is calling.

Use cordless phones or have phones forwarded to cell phones.

You never know who that customer may be and why the customer is calling.

Here are some helpful hints:

If you must use an answering machine, have a nice pleasant voice on the recording.

Answering machine messages should have a better calling time or a promise of returning calls at a certain time.

Have a cheat sheet containing vital information for anyone answering calls. 90 percent of callers will ask for the same information. Many callers need directions or your hours.

Greet the caller. This is Phil’s Steak House. Thanks for calling. This is Meredith speaking.

If possible, have a person with a good personality answering the phone.

As an alternative for telling callers that you don’t take reservations, offer callers the best time to avoid lines.

Have provisions to answer questions related to larger parties.

Likewise, retail stores have their own set of questions. Make sure you have a written set of FAQ’s (frequently asked questions) near the phone.

It just makes me angry to call a business and have to speak to an obviously “poor” employee who says, “Eh. Hold On.” And then, “The person who knows the answer is busy. Call back later.”

…and yes. It happens often. I recently called well in advanced to make arrangements for a party of 24. Once restaurant put me on hold and told me to call back. Another restaurant told me that he will get the owner on the phone who would make the arrangements. He would be with me in less than a minute. Guess who got the party of 24?

For more go to:

Telephone Etiquette: 7 Simple tips to make a good impression

The original articles comes from the November 2014 issue of Restaurant Startup & Growth.

You can see more valuable restaurant information for owners and managers along with a F*R*E*E 12 month subscription at:

Restaurant Startup & Growth

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