Stock Out Policy

Another tale of S Africa retail woe, yet one which is sadly replicated across the planet. Cheerful seafood franchise Ocean Basket are a popular no-nonsense fish restaurant chain, pleasingly Sassi compliant on the sustainability front.


They have a neat fish ‘n chip deal with local speciality Hake. After a long look through their latest menu edition at a Western Cape branch, it was the winner for me. Mind you, it was tricky to miss it on the new menu, having by far the biggest area and font devoted to it, slap bang in the middle. When my waitron returned, I gave my order. Then you hear those words, “we’ve not got that tonight”.

It’s happened to us all, right? To compound my misery, the next available fish was twice the price.

Being South Africa, the staffer offered nothing by way of sympathy or solution.

And naturally, when the alternative orders did duly arrive, they were botched, in a salad/chips, fried/grilled kind of way. As so often occurs in these situations, one mistake inevitably precedes another. And then another.

My frustration drew me to a fascinating debate. When is the right moment to tell a customer they can’t have something?

Watching Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, for this precise instance you infer it’s best to alert early, like when diners first sit down.

But what about in the b2b sphere?

I know from my own experience, management pressure is often t0 cross fingers and hope the request doesn’t emerge. It can be for the latest version of something, a key piece of delivery resource, or simply a staple within a typical timeframe. In each case, ‘only front up if it becomes an issue’ is usually the preferred way.

I struggle with this.

Surely it’s better to get things out in the open? Yes, I’ve heard all the arguments for holding your breath, I simply think that openness is more trust-building and as always, honesty is the best policy.

Just ask Ocean Basket – they won’t be seeing me again and likely not any of my friends either.

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