Rescuing the art of language
the erosion of gratitude reclaimed,
we kindly place our words of value in our guests’ care
that they might flourish and grow when we meet again.
How do you clearly identify and execute your service culture? Are the features of your service culture – words, gestures, attitudes, interactions – oriented exclusively toward the guest?
Do you foresee your guests’ needs and desires? Do you often delight them? Is your restaurant truly guest-centric? That’s where your competitive advantage is.
Danny Meyer, the founder of Union Square Hospitality Group, calls people who instinctively know how to serve others “hospitalitarians”, where “caring is a selfish act.” Offering genuine guest appreciation is a simple act; in employees whose personality and enthusiasm align with a service culture, leadership and coaching can encourage the requisite skills.
How many of these qualities do you notice in your staff:
- A host has an uncanny ability to read someone’s character as the guest enters the restaurant;
- A server consistently and effortlessly makes guests feel comfortable;
- A bar team member is universally liked and respected among the entire restaurant staff;
- A new hire exhibits the qualities that suggest he or she will rise to be one of the top performers in his/her category;
- Servers have their own creative ways of expressing the hospitality that is endemic in the restaurant’s service culture;
- Both FOH and BOH staff skill sets lean more toward emotional maturity than just technical skills;
- Staff consistently demonstrates the pursuit of excellence;
- Staff, current and former, create a sense of continuity of service excellence.
Do you know what your guests are saying about the service delivery of your brand? Does your staff know clearly what your brand is and how to deliver it? How will you bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be?
Relationship is everything. Restated: In a service culture, relationship is everything. The guest’s attendance in your house infers a relationship – an expectation that relationship is mutual. There is a genuineness built into true hospitality.
Some of the features of next-level service delivery:
- Always speak to guests relationally. Convey your assumption through conversation, attitude and interactions that the restaurant looks forward to serving the guest again soon. Assume and build a relationship.
- Never miss the opportunity to congratulate a guest on a recent (or even not so recent) success or life event. Priceless.
- Use the reservation system to grow the restaurant’s community by bringing people with similar or complementary interests together. Cross-pollinate between fields of interest. Know who your guests are.
- Take guest menu suggestions seriously – and implement wherever the suggestion can benefit the overall dynamic of the menu – and the guests. Perhaps, adding or modifying one or two lighter dishes that align with the existing restaurant demographic: a suggestion at dinner that could be easily implemented for lunch. Most importantly, let the guest know his/her input was valued, respected and implemented.
- Overbooked on a busy evening? Booking conflict? Call guests a day ahead of time to offer an elevated benefit for rebooking on a different night.
- Always give more than the guest expects. Unexpected gift; unexpected time.
- Show abundance. Generosity (hospitality) and abundance go hand in hand. If, in return for guests booking during a special promotional period you’re offering a gift certificate for their next meal, include a handwritten note of gratitude and thanks. Make it personal to the guest.
- If a guest arrives with the intention of dining during that special promotional period but doesn’t have the requisite coupon… “Say no more! I’m certain we can” either, a. “find a coupon in-house”; or b. “honor the intention without a coupon.” Demonstrate the restaurant’s desire for relationship with the guest – with a graceful solution.
The ways to elevate guest relationships and to distinguish the restaurant from is competition are limitless – and gratifying.
Creating, defining and maintaining a strong service culture is the single most important process restaurant management can engage in. It’s the foundation of today’s pleasureful community and tomorrow’s continued success.