Executives Surveyed Cite Rudeness to Wait Staff as Biggest Lunch Faux Pas

Mar 12, 2003

MENLO PARK, CA -- If you lose your temper with the waiter at your next business lunch, you also may lose a prospective client, a new survey suggests. Half of advertising and marketing executives polled said being impolite to the wait staff is the single biggest blunder a professional can make during a lunch meeting. Showing up late ranked second, with 36 percent of the response.

The survey was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service that provides marketing, advertising, creative and web professionals on a project basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes 250 responses -- 125 from advertising executives among the nation's 1,000 largest advertising agencies and 125 from senior marketing executives among the nation's 1,000 largest companies.

Advertising and marketing executives were asked, "Which one of the following actions do you think would most hurt an advertising or marketing professional's chances of impressing a current or potential client during a lunch meeting?" Their responses:

Being rude to the wait staff 50%
Arriving late 36%
Displaying poor table manners 5%
Dressing too casually 4%
Other 4%
Don't know/no answer     1%

"Displaying poor manners when interacting with the wait staff -- or anyone -- during a business meeting will prompt prospective clients and business partners to question whether they and their staff members will be treated the same," said Tracey Turner, executive director of The Creative Group. "Showing up late is a similar sign of disrespect."

Added Turner, "The key to a successful lunch meeting is making people feel comfortable. Behaving graciously throughout the meal will go a long way toward forming a positive working relationship."

Turner offered the following tips for ensuring a smooth client lunch:

  • Choose the right location. Bypass the trendy new hot spot for a more quiet and easy-to-find restaurant that you know provides excellent food and service. Make sure a variety of menu options are offered so people with dietary restrictions will be accommodated.
  • Arrive early. Get to the restaurant before the people you're meeting. That way you can select a comfortable table and be there to greet them.
  • Avoid messy foods. Bypass potentially sloppy dishes such as ribs and spaghetti. 
  • Keep it short. While you want to postpone talking shop until after you've ordered, don't let the lunch go on too long, since your clients may have limited time to meet.
  • Give them your undivided attention. Avoid taking cell phone calls or other distractions. As the host, it's your job to make sure the meeting is productive and on topic.

The Creative Group has offices in major markets across the United States and in Canada and offers online job search services at www.creativegroupcom

print Print   email Email   rss RSS