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The Frugal Benefits of a Smile

Guest post from Heather of Creative Family Moments

We rarely go out for dinners or paid attractions, but when we do it’s because we have a coupon, deal, or special event. And when we do, I smile. 

Not only at friends and people I know, though. I smile at everyone. Not like a “creeper” as my teenage daughter would say. Just a simple genuine smile that says, “Thanks for helping me.”

If we’ve never been to the particular venue (which is often the case when using coupons/deals), I always let the waitress or owner know that it’s our first time, cite the deal, and ask for their opinion on the best way to experience the place. In rare instances, I get a shrug. Most often, I get to hear what makes their place unique and find out their specialty. To me, this is part of the fun of going out.

I never really analyzed my behavior, until we celebrated the first day of school. I had a coupon for one large pizza at a location within biking distance. For a family of five, this isn’t much food but I promised the family we could eat more once we got home. It was a special treat, after all.

However, when the pizza was served to us, my husband pointed out that they gave us a much bigger pizza than a large. “It’s your first time!” the waiter explained with a smile.

Hubby sat deep in thought while the kids enjoyed their slices. “Do you realize that this always happens to you?” he asked. I turned to him. “What do you mean?”

He started citing instance after instance. Free appetizers, free desserts, free tours, free rides, amazingly attentive service, etc. “Businesses seem to go out of their way to make sure you get to experience the best of what they have to offer,” he concluded.

Thinking about it, I realized he was right! When I let businesses know how genuinely excited I am to experience their venue, most of the time (not all) I’m rewarded with a better experience than I initially imagined.

I didn’t realize the kids were listening until a few weeks later. We took the family out to a local burger joint after church (with coupons). My eldest daughter came to the table holding a giant basket of fries, much larger than the few fries each the rest of us had on our plates. She grinned. “I told the lady up front that you guys had been here before but that this was my first time.”

It was true. And they just made sure my soon-to-drive daughter will be a loyal customer for years to come. So remember to smile!

Heather blogs at Creative Family Moments. With plenty of embarrassing moments and funny kid quotes along the way, she hopes to inspire others to live a life of celebration as well!

photo source

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  • I agree! And to add to that – I have also gotten many free things for complimenting good service. I think it’s easy to remember to complain when you’re unhappy about something, but I’ve found that many businesses appreciate a kind word of genuine appreciation! I’ve gotten free drinks, free appetizers, free desserts, coupons for next time, etc. Of course, I think it’s good to be friendly and kind whether you get something or not – but it really does help to give out smiles and friendliness – and you’ll feel good too, just because you put a smile on someone else’s face!

  • Great post! And it’s amazing how few restaurants realize the truth of your last statement: that a little more food now and then is probably the most effective (and cheapest) way to get customers coming back over and over. It’s certainly a whole lot more effective than advertising! The food cost of the extra fries was pennies, and look what it got them!

    My wife and I went out of town to a B&B to celebrate our 40th anniversary a couple of weeks ago. I chatted on the phone with the lady who took my call, just talking about things to do there, the turning weather, and stuff like that. Lo and behold, when we arrived, we found ourselves upgraded to the Royal Suite, the one with a big jacuzzi tub in the room, balcony with a view, private entrance and all the other goodies. “Just because…” 🙂

  • Great post – and I think it sadly goes to show how rarely businesses experience great manners and genuine excitement. Especially when traveling, we will always ask the locals at the restaurants, hotels, shops, etc. where they like to go – and we’ll often find really great places that we never would have come across on our own! It makes for a fun trip, great memories and good conversation – you’re out in that location anyway, why not make it fun for you and your server (or whomever you are talking to).

  • Brenda says:

    A neighbor’s house burned to the ground a few years ago. While she appreciated the support from family and friends, she said she was most encouraged by the smiles and kindness of complete strangers who had no idea that she had just lost all of her possessions. So keep on smiling as we’re all going through something and you never know what that “something” is for someone else–even someone you may know well.

  • Love this! It’s so simple and so true!

    • jenn says:

      Took my son to taco bell a while back
      He wanted the crustos so I handed him $1. He went to the counter and ordered, using his manners. They handed them to him for free “because you were so polite”. Wow!

  • Marie says:

    I agree. Having worked in retail for over 12 years it was rare to hear compliments. the negative always outweighed the good from customers. I think society has gotten to a place of “just expecting good service” but forgetting to thank them for it. Recently we went to Texas Roadhouse as a family. It was a busy Sat. night but we waited patiently and when we were seated the server gave us his full attention. The service and food was superb! So I asked to speak to the manager, but let my server know it was for a good reason. We expressed our thanks and how we appreciated being able to come out as a family to a restraurant that is kid friendly. And just because I did he gave us coupons for free appetizers! I didn’t do it to get anything but it was nice. I think we should all do it more often.

  • Charity says:

    Umm, I have to say I think all of this is because you’re so pretty…and have a pretty smile! 🙂

  • Chelsea says:

    My husband and I have worked in food service for years. I can personally say that it’s people like the writer of the post and others who try to do the same that can make the service industry enjoyable- so servers are usually more than happy to go above and beyond for you. So thank you for being polite. 🙂 It really does make a huge difference in somebody’s day.

    Also- I’d like to add that when I was a server, one out of the four managers was the type to go above and beyond like the poster was talking about. The other three were a little tight with the resources the restaurant had to offer, but that one manager in particular always went out of his way- especially if it was a first time guest or special celebration. I even saw him send employees to a Dillons (in the same parking lot as the restaurant) to buy flowers and cards for customers. While it can’t be done for every guest for obvious reasons, I saw him do something nice at least once every shift I worked. I loved working with him for this reason, and it’s nice to know that there are other managers out there who do the same.

  • Karla D. says:

    This is so great to hear! Good manners really do pay off. I don’t eat burgers often but a friend was raving about Five Guys burgers. When hubby and I went in for the first time, they asked if we had been their before and I said no, it was the first time for both of us but that we were recommended to try it out. They had a lot of great toppings for the burger which was nice and then they offered fries-regular and seasoned. I had asked if the fries were really spicy and if it was possible to see the seasoning container (since I’m allergic to MSG and many ingredients go by a different name so I wanted to see if I spotted any). The order taker assured me that it it did not even before I looked at the bottle and gave it to me to look at. We decided that the burger was probably enough of a splurge calorie-wise

    The lady who took our money gave us a big brown paper bag filled with french fries (about the size of a double order) and told me to enjoy them on the house since it was our first time. She said that their fries were the best! They were very yummy, we ordered them next time. It was nice to get the freebie and we left feeling good about our experience there. 🙂

  • Angela says:

    I love this post. I always like to say that “you get more flies with honey than with vinegar.” This is just a good example!

  • Katie says:

    This is very true! Recently we were on a vacation in another state. It was our first time to take our kids to the ocean, and we had never been in the state before. We talked a lot to the lady at the front desk of the hotel and asked her for some recommendations for a good “non-touristy” seafood restaurant. Even though it was peak season, she upgraded our room to a ocean view room “for the kids”. We stayed two nights and were going to stay through the third day, but drive to get out of the expensive tourist area for the last night. When she found out our plans, she offered us a half-price ocean side room for the last night. I highly doubt she would have done this if we hadn’t stopped to chat with her each day when we came in and she saw how much the kids were enjoying themselves!

  • ann says:

    This is so true, no just of restaurants and businesses, but of many other things as well. We’ve recently been given clothing for my daughter that included 3 large trash bags of clothing. (*NICE* clothing that will take her through the next 3 years!) A family from church always passes along things from their youngest son…clothes, shoes, a brand-new looking bicycle. Another family recently gave us a new Little Tykes wagon because ours was showing wear. A city worker recently drove by when I was picking up a discarded climber (yard toy). He got out in the pouring rain to help me load it into the City truck. (I’m sure that’s against the rules!) The list goes on and on, and we didn’t ask for any of these blessings. It really does pay to be nice and great others with a smile! 🙂

  • Emily D says:

    Your post simply made ME smile – and I thought you should know!!! Thank you for sharing with us!

  • Heather, I can totally see this happening for you! You’re awesome and I’m forwarding the link of this post to my husband. He’ll love it.

  • Louise says:

    Hey, I thought *I* was the only one who benefited from this habit! LOL!
    Actually, I’ve been very lucky in similar ways by just seeing whomeverI’m talking to as a REAL PERSON and showing some interest in them. (“Where are you from?’ “What do you suggest?” etc.) I have a friend that used to accuse me of flirting, but she finally realized that I’m just trying to be friendly. I’m sure the employees at the businesses I’m dealing with get tired of just being treated like a cog in the wheel. Everyone appreciates appreciation!

  • Maggie says:

    I read this the other day and have been paying attention to how I treat people I run across in retail situations more lately. Today, two men were giving free coffee coupons away at the gas station. I stopped for a moment and asked about their day and talked to them a little bit. As I was leaving, they gave me an extra free coffee coupon! I thought of this post and had to write in. I won’t expect a freebie, but it’s a great reminder to treat others with thoughtfulness and kindness for no other reason than they’ve been put in my path for a few minutes. Thanks for changing the way I look at the world!

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