PR Win: Red Robin Encourages ‘Unbridled Acts’ of Kindness

Today in It’s the Small Things News, the manager of a North Carolina branch of burger chain Red Robin scored a big PR win just by being nice to a pregnant customer (and saving her a few bucks in the process).

The story: a man visited the restaurant with his (very) pregnant wife and their young son. As he explained to Consumerist, the  manager saw his family come in and stopped by to chat before their meal arrived; he was “extremely friendly and jokingly asked [the] wife if this was her last meal before heading to the hospital” before comping her entire meal and adding the message “MOM 2 BEE GOOD LUC” to the receipt.

Hearts were warmed all around.

A couple of caveats: We understand that any lower-level employee at a comparable restaurant who pulled a move like this would probably find him or herself filing for unemployment right about now. And of course that $11.50 discount comes right out of Red Robin’s budget. Still, we can’t overstate the PR value of “being a nice guy”. Customer loyalty is worth more than a few extra bucks, right?

In a follow-up post, the manager explains that he didn’t do it for the media attention:

The restaurant encourages employees to perform what it calls “unbridled acts” of kindness and even features related stories on its website. It’s an element of the chain’s culture that helps it “stand apart in a world where there are many options for dining out.”

Should all restaurants adopt this kind of policy in an era of penny-pinching and sweating over profit margins? Can employees a little lower on the corporate ladder use random acts of kindness to improve brand perception?