It’s How You Couch It That Counts

As the minimum wage makes its way to $15 an hour in California, some businesses are getting heartburn.

With the increase too much for some to absorb, part of the cost is being passed along.

Take Bottega Louie, a popular downtown Los Angeles eatery. Its solution was to tack a 4% “special surcharge” onto every bill — an extra line item for all to see.

It was interesting to watch customer reactions.

For some, it left a bad taste. “All employers have to pay higher wages. Should I also expect a surcharge on high rent and electricity bills?”

Others voiced support. “It’s a small price to pay to give people a living wage.”

Many didn’t notice it at all, or expressed no opinions either way.

A few restaurants took the same path as Bottega Louie, putting a “surcharge” line on customers’ bills. Most took the less overt approach of simply adding a few pennies per dollar to the price of each menu item, and it went unnoticed.

Which raises the question, How were the different approaches decided upon?

Was the decision arbitrary, or thoroughly thought out?

Was the owner or management trying to make a political statement? “Make us pay our employees more, and it’s coming out of your pocket.”

Did anyone consider how customers would react? (Would a surcharge upset fewer customers than slightly higher menu items? Would alerting diners before they ordered be more palatable than surprising them after the fact?)

Was the decision handed down unilaterally by the back office?

Was input solicited from the waitstaff (who would ultimately bear the brunt of customer questions and irritation)?

When you’re considering rolling out changes within your organization, your internal and external communications need to be consistent and on-point. How do you position and present yourself in the most favorable light — not just with customers, but with your employees?

Your employees are the front line of your business. They represent your brand. Communicate with them and show your support, and they’ll feel part of the solution.

Leave them in dark, and they’ll feel no loyalty to defend you.

To celebrate the launch of our two books, we’ve made the Kindle version of each available for only $0.99! Check out  A Board Member’s Guide to Crisis PR and A Lawyer’s Guide to Crisis PR (Second Edition) on Amazon.

“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”

Gillott Communications is a Strategic PR firm. We’re Fixers. Crisis & Reputation Management. Litigation. Media Relations. Crisis Prep. More than half a century of expertise working with clients to resolve issues both in and outside the media’s glare — in their professional and personal lives.

You can reach Roger Gillott and Eden Gillott Bowe directly at 310-396-8696.

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One thought on “It’s How You Couch It That Counts

  1. Good point, Eden. Your employees are your brand ambassadors. You have to give them something positive to represent.

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