The restaurant industry is a notoriously cutthroat business no matter where you open up shop. And though every once in awhile an owner might feel tempted to treat his or her guests to a free meal out of the goodness of their hearts, just remember that no good deed goes unpunished.
Earlier this month, in an effort to attract more customers to her new restaurant in Guiyang, China, Liu Xiaojun had a noble, yet ill-advised idea to let walk-ins pay whatever they wanted after finishing their meals. While one would hope that the “pay what you want” policy might spark an outpouring of generosity, in reality people are walking garbage cans, and the promotion resulted in a massive, $15,000 loss for the restaurant.
Liu Xiaojun isn’t wrong. At first glance, her restaurant was a hit, with customers crowding the dining hall. But when it came time to pay, many customers only paid 10 percent of their bill, and in certain cases, guests left only a single yuan (about 15 cents) for their meals. When the promotional policy had ended, the guests were nowhere to be found, and by 4 p.m. the following Monday, the restaurant hadn’t seen one customer yet that day.
"It makes sense that people like to eat food and not pay much,” Xiaojun ultimately admitted. “I just don't understand why they haven't come back since the promotion ended.”