Observations on Applebee’s.

A snippet of a bigger picture
Mind-map of business environment, main drivers information, promises, money both tangible and intangible

Well, I guess I am weighing in on the Applebee’s fiasco.  I teach Hospitality Ethics and this is making for a great case study from various points of view.

First, if you haven’t read the article or the complete story, you need to do some research.  I have to admit the media today is not well favored in their reporting.  Yahoo (and here) reported on the incident as it was percolating across the social media spectrum.  Make sure you go to the original Reddit posting and look at the image that was posted.  There are other tangible evidence that there might be different versions of the check image, one with the complete signature.  Also, there is evidence of posting other customer signatures when service execution goes above and beyond.   Again, a whole mess of evidence that even at this blog posting, I am still weighing and how to trawl through.

I won’t tell you the whole story but management, the person involved expresses that it comes down to an argument of privacy.  Or does it?

There are ten principles in hospitality ethics (Jaszay & Dunk, 2006; Ethical Decision Making in the Hospitality Industry; pg 2-3; Pearsons):

  1. Honesty
  2. Integrity
  3. Trustworthiness
  4. Loyalty
  5. Fairness
  6. Concern and Respect for others
  7. Commitment to Excellence
  8. Leadership
  9. Reputation and Morale
  10. Accountability

Now our industry as with any other is driven by information, money and promises, both intangible and tangible.  They are funneled into a dynamic and traditional exchange environment and the industry business’s then execute effective and efficient management functions, processes in order to maximize revenue and profits, in order to reward and reinvest in our stakeholders and the firm, respectively.  I have talked about social contract theory as well as psychological contracts in that they may or may not be articulated or even in writing as part of the exchange of goods and services.

This case highlights the pitfalls and failures, the good, the bad of service encounters, service execution.  There are a host of questions that I will pose to my students to think about.  This brings to mind the social media backlash against Darden and Olive Garden.  There is also the demonstrated pitfalls of social media in delivering instantaneous information to make headlines.  The ramifications on service, social responsibility, employee relations and fiscal responsibility.  There are a host of answers good and bad.

And not just privacy is an issue here, but the tipping, gratuity policy of restaurants.  Recently, given today’s economy, many customers are questioning a restaurants right to automatically charge a gratuity for large parties.  Yet, there are arguments for and against this.  How many customers really understand how a restaurant runs?  How many understand the nature of waiting on customers; a restaurant server’s pay, paying scale and so forth.  What about the customer’s responsibility?  Is the customer always right?  What about the autonomy of managers, their empowerment to manage a business?   How will this hurt Applebee’s brand?  How will Applebee’s weather the storm?  What are the effects on social media?

I could go on.  This could turn into a lengthy post but needless to say, 50 minutes of class time might not be enough for this topic

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