If you saw my Instagram photo of some absolutely delicious food that I posted yesterday, you may be wondering something along the lines of, "ok, Lauren, I thought you're all about saving money. What do these photos of food have anything to do with saving money?" Well... let me tell you... it does.
I'll let you in on a little secret.... we didn't spend anything but a £5 tip for lunch yesterday. *Gasp!* I know, right? "But Lauren, how on earth did you manage that?" No, we didn't get up and run out of the restaurant after we finished our meals.
It started after our Mother's Day meal in March when I wrote an email of complaint to the management of the restaurant. No need to go into detail, but we simply weren't impressed at all with our meal there. I had been looking forward to having our Mother's Day lunch there since the beginning of January when Jeff made a reservation after thoroughly enjoying our last Mother's Day meal there.
We saved money in our budget for two months to make sure we not only had the money to spend but also so that we could comfortably (without guilt) splurge on a nice-to-us meal out. We knew from last Mother's Day that the meal would cost more than our entire "Eating Out" budget for the whole month of March, so we simply saved a little extra in time for the Mother's Day meal.
One thing after another was disappointing to me, so quite understandably, I left the restaurant feeling quite let down. To put salt on the wound, Brenna was sick in the middle of the night (just once or twice, thankfully) and Ellen woke up with a sore tummy, too. That evening, I wrote an email to the restaurant to let them know about our experience, our disappointment, our two months of budgeting and that our daughters weren't well after the meal.
After a phone call from the manager the next morning and a few emails back and forth, the manager kindly offered to "make things right" by offering us - all four of us - another lunch at the restaurant's expense. Because the restaurant has a good reputation and I really believed it must have been a fluke, we took her up on her offer and went for lunch with our friends at the restaurant again yesterday.
So, how can this help to save you money?
Speak up! Don't be afraid to let the management know about your experience. I truly believe that you vote for companies, brands, restaurants, etc. with your patronage and, therefore, your money. If they continue to have unhappy customers, the company may go out of business - and I'm sure the management wouldn't want that to happen. If you weren't happy with your experience at a restaurant or whatever else you paid for, let them know in a polite and constructive manner either by asking to speak with the manager or duty manager in person, via email or phone call or customer comment card. I did not post anything negative on social media about our experience. I simply wrote to the restaurant management and was actually surprised to be offered an entire meal for our family at no extra charge.
Clarify what is being offered - When the offer of a free meal was made, I asked the manager to clarify what the meal would include and whether the offer was for just my meal or for all four of our meals. She offered all four of us a drink and two courses, which is exactly what we had at our Mother's Day meal. I wanted to make sure that we knew in advance what we would - or wouldn't - be paying for.
Reduce your monthly restaurant budget for the month - since we are very used to eating out only once per month, we budgeted the same amount for our "eating out" budget this month but simply won't spend all of it. The extra will just be added to our bank account. We could have chosen to reduce the monthly budgeted amount this month and apply the extra to another area in our budget that needs a little boost. Perhaps I'll readjust our July budget at the end of the month.
I don't want to suggest that I complained about our meal to receive a free meal... not at all... I simply wanted to share our disappointment. I feel the manager did the right thing by offering us another meal "to make things right"... and it worked. Not only did we walk away from yesterday's meal feeling VERY full, we also felt that we were listened to and appreciated. Plus, since our friends joined us, the restaurant gained more customers who will likely return for another meal, too.