I want to dive right into it this month because there is a lot of great stuff here.
- Starting Off Poorly – It is incredibly hard to turn around a guest after the beginning very poorly. It only takes seven minutes for a guest to get settled and make a judgement on how the entire experience is going to go. The first two employees that they come across have a huge impact on their impression. The problem is that once they have a poor impression they start to look for other things to go wrong and you have to work three times harder to have them leave with a good impression.
- Serving All Guests the Same – Every guest that arrives has some type of expectations whether they mention them out loud (I’m looking forward to a really good steak) or simply think about it (I hope we get out in time for the movie). By using specific questions to understand what the guest is looking for you can adapt the service to fit their needs. A server could have a section of four tables; a business dinner, a couple on their third date, a family of four and two old friends getting together. Four very different expectations that require four very different types of service. “So, what brings you in tonight”
- Not Making a Connection – For a guest to establish loyalty to your establishment, they need a sense of belonging. Somewhere they feel comfortable….. a tie to your business that they can call their own. This can happen in several different ways; a special memory, a favorite dish, etc. but none of these is bigger than getting to know an employee on a deeper level. It’s amazing to me how simple this really is to do. All it takes is a few special personal touches or it can be as simple as a joke. The really amazing thing is how big of an impact this makes to future visits, referrals and how little it takes place.
- Creating Delays – In today’s market, a major factor in the decision making process of where to dine is time. The service staff controls the majority of this and unwanted or unneeded delays will have your guests dining across the street next time. Just for fun last night, I tested this theory while dining out with my wife at a local chain restaurant. During our initial greeting at 6:25pm, I very clearly told our young waitress “I was hoping you could help us out, we are going to a show and it starts at 7:30pm” and I looked at my watch and did not say another word. A very long time and interesting story later we walked out of the restaurant at 7:49pm. She either forgot we were in a hurry or did not care.
- Forgetting the WOW! – For many people, going out to eat is a big part of their weekly entertainment and they are looking for more than just a meal. Now they (the guests) have been sat at the table and they are looking at the menu, talking to each other about what they are going to have, making suggestions, smiling and joking and here comes their server for the very first time of the evening, the server that is going to make this a fantastic experience and be sure that they feel every dollar they spend tonight is worth it, and he opens up with “What are ya havin’ to drink?” The guests very easily could have been sold on a round of cocktails from the bar and instead they just order soda. Do you think that Disney Cast members understand the concept of being on stage? I do! Good employees create an experience that adds to the value for the guest and dollars to the bottom line for you..