How To Say No Like Embattled But Still Fighting Restaurateur

From a sector similarly smashed myself, it’s fascinating to read the efforts of indomitable chef Mark Hix.

The hospitality trade has had a hammering. As frequent tales of pivoting online, takeaways and food trucks attests, there’s only so much you can do to substitute for both an inability to open your doors and when you can, the curtailed amount of diners allowed in.

Now restrictions are lifted in England, the next barriers are of supply and staff. Both lorry driver and in-house crew numbers have reduced significantly. Through many having taken up new roles elsewhere during the various lockdowns and decided to stay with those. Compounded in the latter case with places filled on a casual basis by university students going once again unfilled as they return to campus for the new academic year.

He recounts sad stories of restaurant customers unsympathetic to these travails. Worsened by their rudeness.

Here’s a paragraph of his retail experience with selling insight [sub’n];

What we have been forced to learn are all the different ways of saying no, firmly, but non-confrontationally.
The best results we find are produced not by saying, ‘So sorry, we are fully booked.’
That can just be a red rag to a bull.
Instead, we’ve been opting for something more heartfelt:
‘We physically can’t do it. We have three chefs trying to cook for 160 covers.’
That sort of maths usually takes the heat out of the situation.

We in B2B must say ‘no’ to customers too.

‘So sorry, we are… unable to deliver then / fixed at this price / only offering this product as-is’.

Many more examples probably occur from requests you field.

They’re also objections.

This chef knows the power of empathy. Those of the feel-felt-found school will appreciate the ‘heartfelt’ framing above.

Being booked out is not the true reason.

Resource allocation the real root cause.

160 divided by 3 clearly a tough equation to balance.

What’s also appealing is its reliance on cold, hard fact. Immutable data. Maths to take the heat out, indeed.

The default setting of a salesperson is usually to not upset a buyer.

Saying ‘no’ crashes against this.

Yet here is a tactic to mollify prospects.

There will be numbers behind any blocked-off scenario.

Find them, know them. Firmly, politely, share them.

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