The Dreaded Wedding Breakfast and How to Nickel and Dime a Customer

by Steve DiGioia, Featured Contributor

The wonderful world of weddings. You book the event and promise the “perfect wedding”. The birds will sing, the flowers will bloom and the rainbow will shine in all its glorious colors. Well at least that’s the plan.

So the wedding night finally comes and guess what? It does indeed turn out to be the perfect wedding; rave reviews from all the guests and a packed dance floor all weddingnight.  The staff does a great job; service is attentive and top notch. The kitchen cooks and presents the food so well that it should be on a magazine cover and everyone leaves at midnight as happy as a lark. A great end to the day.

All you have left to worry about is their wedding breakfast the following morning. I won’t get much sleep tonight because I need to be back the next morning at 6am but I’ve done it hundreds of times.

It’s the next morning and my sleepy staff and I are setting up the buffet breakfast for the 120 planned guests.  Doors open, guests arrive and food is eaten…along with lots of coffee.  As we get towards the end of the breakfast we realize that we have about 15 additional guests that were not planned for.  All of them did attend the wedding but we had not anticipated them joining us for breakfast, nor I believe did the hosts of the event.

Now we have two options:

  1. Charge the host for the 15 additional guests; after all its “business” right?
  2. Allow these extra people to eat for free as a gesture of good will.

Let’s delve into these two options a little more.

Option #1

As a “for profit business” we are not here to provide a product or service for free.  We have fixed costs such as insurance, building expenses (rent/mortgage, repair & maintenance, etc.).  We also have all the variable costs like payroll, food, gas & electric, etc.  We must pay the staff for working the event and if we don’t charge for these additional guests we will lose money.  We can’t give food away and not charge.

Another line of thought is that each event, the wedding then the breakfast, are two separate entities and one should not be influenced by the other.  Just because the group had their wedding here last night doesn’t mean that this event should be discounted or we should under charge for the guests served. “It’s business”!

Option #2

Let’s look at this from the “big picture” perspective.  When we go to a store like Costco, aren’t there many stand-alone kiosks inside the store offering free samples of the food items they sell?  Why do you think this is done?  Is it just because they want to be nice and give you a little snack as you shop in their store?  I doubt it.  When you go to the local deli or bakery, have you ever been offered free samples of their product to taste?  The intent of the business is to entice you to purchase one of the items you have just tasted.  Ever hear of a “loss-leader”?

Supermarkets all across this country have used this practice for decades where they offer a product at a very low price, maybe even at a monetary loss, just to get you into the store.  Once inside there is a more-than-reasonable expectation that you will purchase additional items at regular full price to make up for that small loss on the one item.

This is “big picture” thinking.

Now back to the wedding breakfast.

Why would a business work so hard to “WOW” a customer and earn their trust just to have the final touch point be one that leaves an impression that we “nickel and dime” them right after they spend $30,000 on a wedding?  This is not smart business. How much potential business and favorable recommendations can we receive from this customer if we let them know that we have fed these additional guests at no charge to them?  They will be extremely appreciative of our gesture.  This is another way of doing the unexpected for the guest and letting them leave on a high note.  They can’t help but remember our actions.

It has been a long standing practice for businesses to accept competitors discount coupons.  Many stores will offer a “price match” if the customer sees the same product offered at another company.

We spend untold millions of dollars on advertizing, marketing, offering discount coupons, package deals, etc., all in the hopes of generating more business and more revenue from these methods.  Doesn’t this amount to giving away future revenue in the hopes of making a happy customer today?  And one that will come back tomorrow?

Of course it does.  So think of the BIG picture and don’t nickel and dime your customer!


Steve DiGioia
Steve DiGioia
With 20+ years in the hospitality industry and a lifetime of customer service experience, Steve DiGioia shares real-world tips and tactics to improve your customer service, increase employee morale, and provide the experience your customers desire. As a certified trainer, author & speaker, Steve has been recognized as a 4-time “World’s Top 30 Customer Service Professional” by Global and a “Top Customer Service Influencer” by multiple industry-leading sources. He is also a featured contributor to the leading hospitality and customer service websites. With a tagline of “Finding Ways to WOW Your Customer”, Steve continues his pursuit of excellence on his award-winning blog sharing his best strategies on customer service, management, and leadership. Follow Steve on Twitter @Steve DiGioia.

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