It Is Important to Know the Rules

In the Atlanta area (Little 5 Points and Midtown) there is a bar and grill called The Vortex. They have a distinctive brand that is sassy and somewhat irreverent. They are known for great burgers and a wide variety of “adult” beverages. The entrance to their 5 Points location is a big Laughing Skull, their brand image. They are packed all the time and especially on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. As we were sipping a beverage waiting for our table our friends handed us a copy of the beer list and a copy of the menu. They told us that since we were first timers we needed to understand the “rules” of The Vortex. Apparently it is important to know the rules.
In reading these “documents” they lay out to the patron the standards of behavior by which you are to conduct yourself. It pays to follow them and it enhances your experience and their job. Here are a several of them:

  • Don’t give anyone a hard time when they ask you for your ID. “How old do you think I am?” is a stupid question. Sideshow geeks get paid to guess your age. We, on the other hand, are required to verify your age.
  • If the bar is busy, know what you want to drink when the Bartender approaches. Questions like, “What’s a good shot?” or, “What beers do you have?” are silly and time consuming.
  • Tipping is how our Bartenders make their living. Most people tip somewhere within the 15 to 20 percent range. Some “regulars” tip significantly more. At any rate, Bartenders know who tips well and who doesn’t. If you can hear your tip hit the bar, chances are that you’re being too cheap. As a general rule, don’t mess with the person who signs your paycheck, cuts your hair, or mixes your drinks. The results are guaranteed to be anything but pleasant.
  • Please help us maintain a quality staff. Tip them. Tipping is how our Servers earn their living, and they are taxed on tips whether they get them or not. So if you think tipping is a scam then stay home with a TV dinner and watch wrestling. Just don’t come here.
  • Sorry, but we ALSO enforce a very strict “No-Whining Policy.” So if you don’t like it here, go somewhere else. And if you need to have total control over your environment, then you need to stay home. Crybaby.
  • AND RULE #1 At The Vortex Bar & Grill the customer is NOT always right. We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, especially if we think that you’re a great big jerk. We strive to keep The Vortex an official “Idiot-Free Zone” at all times. So if you’re acting like an idiot, we’ll be sure to let you know, right before we toss your silly ass out.

I had a blast that afternoon. It was my kind of place, the sass, décor, noise, scenery, the staff and all. But I was thinking about it later from an HR perspective. These menus are not just a message to their customers; it is a HUGE message to their employees. It says to them WE VALUE YOU! We care for you. We want you to be prosperous. We have your back. The next time you are thinking of retention think of that message.
It also is a communication piece to customers; however, that very clearly lays the ground rules for behavior.  And that can be seen from an HR standpoint as well. How many of you have such a succinct message to your employees to help them understand what is expected of them. I would love to see the employee handbook for The Vortex and see if it does so while re-enforcing the brand. I would hope it says here is who we are, here is who we expect you to be, here is how we have your back and here is what we expect in return. I hope the handbook has the laughing skull image on it as well.
(Disclaimer: This was not meant to be a commercial for The Vortex just a view through an HR geek’s eyes. But if you are ever in Atlanta it is worth the trip to see this establishment. Although the Midtown location is the original, the Little 5 Points one certainly has character and the Laughing Skull doorway.)

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