Manager's Dilemma: To Comp or Not to Comp in Restaurants

Backbar | Manager's Dilemma: To Comp or Not to Comp in Restaurants
// By Malika Wichner // , Feb 21, 2024

Topics: Restaurant Management, Restaurant Operations, Restaurant Accounting

Exploring the challenging decisions managers face when deciding whether to comp items in restaurants.


The Impact of Comping on Profits


Comping drinks and/or food can have a significant impact on a bar or restaurant's profits. While comping can be a great way to enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty, it also comes with a cost. When managers comp items too frequently, it can cut into the establishment's bottom line and reduce overall profitability.


Therefore, it is crucial for managers to strike a balance between comping items to keep customers happy and ensuring that it doesn't negatively affect the financial health of the business.


Additionally, comping items can lead to a loss of revenue if not carefully monitored. Managers need to track and analyze the impact of comping on profits to make informed decisions about when to offer complimentary items and when to refrain from doing so.



Factors to Consider When Comp-ing Items


When deciding whether to comp items, managers should consider various factors such as the reason for the comp, the customer's history with the establishment, the cost of the item, and the potential impact on profits. It is important to have clear guidelines in place for when comping is appropriate and when it is not.


Managers should also take into account the long-term effects of comping on customer behavior. While comping items may temporarily appease a dissatisfied customer, it is essential to assess whether it will lead to repeat business and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.


Effective Comping Strategies


To effectively manage comping in restaurants, managers can implement strategies such as offering complimentary items for special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries, providing comps to resolve legitimate customer complaints promptly, and using comping as a way to surprise and delight loyal customers.


By being strategic in their comping approach, managers can leverage complimentary items to enhance the overall customer experience and drive repeat business.


Avoiding Over-Compensation Pitfalls


One common pitfall that managers should avoid is over-compensating customers by comping items excessively. This can lead to a culture of entitlement among customers and create financial strain on the business. It is essential for managers to set clear boundaries for when comping is appropriate and to communicate these guidelines effectively to staff.


Managers should also regularly review comping practices and adjust them as needed to ensure that they are aligned with the restaurant's overall goals and profitability targets.


Handling Customer Complaints Gracefully


When faced with customer complaints, managers should handle them gracefully and with empathy. Offering to comp items as a gesture of goodwill can help resolve issues and turn a dissatisfied customer into a loyal advocate for the business.


However, it is essential to address the root cause of the complaint and take proactive steps to prevent similar issues from arising in the future.


By handling customer complaints with grace and professionalism, managers can not only retain customers but also enhance the restaurant's reputation and profitability in the long run.


Malika Wichner

About the author, Malika Wichner

Malika is the Marketing Content Manager for Backbar. Prior to creating content to link industry professionals to Backbar she worked as a bartender and server in Chicago. She enjoys red wine or an IPA with a good book in her free time.

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