Change is inevitable, but not always positive.
As a business owner for 46 years, I have had to change with the times; some changes have been exciting while others have been disheartening. One of my recent and growing struggles has been on how to handle the negative impact of social media. Instead of complaining to me and allowing me to rectify a problem, customers — and even non-customers — take the liberty to bash me and my business on social media. These are not people who want to offer insight or constructive criticism, which I have always welcomed. Rather, these are people who seem to have venomous, mean-spirited diatribes on their agenda.
Waking up to these words or seeing them as the last thing I see before I go to bed has affected me as a person … a person who values customers and people saying nice things about Ben’s much more than money. I am left to wonder what people are really thinking in this world of social media, and if they know how defamatory their remarks may be and how hurtful they are … or if people simply have nothing better to do with their time.
I try to stand tall and proud. After all, I build restaurants that are aesthetically pleasing, hiring well-known architects to execute my thoughts and layouts, try to buy the best in kosher meat, make most of our foods from scratch, and ask my 320 employees to take good care of our equipment, our foods and, most importantly, our patrons.
I also have contributed over $1 million to Long Island-based causes over the last 40 years, never refusing to lend a hand, giving gift certificates to almost every organization that requests donations, giving out Pint for a Pint certificates for those who donate a pint of blood (give a pint of blood, receive a pint of chicken soup) and donating money to those groups, attempting to help those who are the weakest and poorest among us. Although maintaining a profitable business is much harder than it used to be, I still continue to contribute robustly because it is important to me.
As with most things and plans, however, I sometimes fall short. Those who know me personally and professionally will never say that I didn’t try hard enough, and even harder when the public points out our failings. I have always been responsive to customer wants and needs and answer each and every concern. Constructive criticism is essential to me so I can make Ben’s the very best it can be!
I welcome your feedback, both good and bad, and hope that you continue to let me know how we are doing. Allow me to right the wrongs and, remember: I depend on dialogue and communication so Ben’s can strive to do better and continue to prosper and grow and not join other delis in the ash heap of history.
Thanks for listening!
See you at the Deli,