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  • Erin Bruns

Customer Service in a Pandemic

The customer is always right has been the mantra of the service industry for years. I have had customers tell me that I got their order wrong when I know full well that they did not order their burrito with no sour cream, I always just take the blame, apologize and correct the mistake. It doesn’t hurt my ego at all and I’m not arguing with anyone.


Now it’s whole different world. Obviously if we mess up someone’s food we will fix it, even if we know it wasn’t our fault. Now we have boundaries and those start at the front door. Don’t come in the building! We have multiple stop signs in front of the door, I used to believe that the bright red octagon with white lettering was recognized by all people to mean STOP. Some folks, mostly unmasked and pissed off just walk on in.

During our busiest times we are running food to cars every 3 minutes. So we constantly have runners outside. If you don’t understand the reservation system we stop and take your phone number and put you in line to order, meaning we will call you. For some people this is just a bridge to far. Imagine having to wait 10 minutes for someone to call you, cheerfully take your order, your credit card info and bring the food out within 5 minutes. Oh the horror!

There are a couple that really stick out in my mind. A teenage boy tried to open the front door, I just happened to be standing there and loudly said STOP. He of course wasn’t wearing a mask and was only a foot away from me. I told him to back up. He looked at me in shock. I had my clipboard in my hand, we carry them when we go out to take phone numbers from customers that haven’t made reservations. He starts to try to give me his order in his thick Southern accent. I tell him that is not how this works, if you give me your phone number and vehicle, white BMW by the way, we will call you in a few minutes. He again tries to order, he just wants a quesadilla, and I told him to go back to his car and wait for our call.

In 5 minutes or so Jacob calls him and takes his order. Then he asks Jacob if he is a manager and Jacob says no. Then this kid tells him that the lady at the door was very rude and he is not used to this kind of treatment because he is from the South. I can not tell you the fortitude it took to not march out that door and lose my mind on him.

One lady kept showing up in the parking lot without a reservation. When people do this the first time we give them a card explaining our system and that we are happy to help them today but for future reference this is how to get burritos. This lady said it was too much of a bother to make a reservation so instead my runners had to go out for extra trips in 85 degree weather. The 4th time she did it I delivered the food. I told her that she may be inconvenienced by having to visit a website but we were far more inconvenienced by her stubborn refusal to help us to help her. She hasn’t been back.

On a Friday night we had a lady just suddenly appear in the restaurant, no mask, demanding service. She had been trying to call for hours and our phone was always busy. Yes it is always busy and perhaps that should be your first clue that we are busy as well. She scared both of the young women that were working out front. I was in the parking lot chatting with a couple that just got their first Bruce’s since March, I had been thinking about them and wondering when they would come by. My employees had her leave and told her that we couldn’t help her. She then pulled out the parking lot squealing her tires in her black Volvo SUV almost hitting me.


We have a hard and fast rule that we don’t take anyone without a reservation in the last hour of service. We try to have just enough food to feed the reservations without having to throw any away at the end of the day. I know how crazy it sounds to be turning away customers right now but we also use it as a chance to tell people about our system, we apologize give them a card explaining how to make reservation and tell them to reserve early. We want to help everyone but we need people to respect our boundaries and limitations. Make your reservations at brucesburritos.setmore.com, now you can make an account so it is even easier to reserve your spot!

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