Let Them Loose

As I sit down for a quiet minute to write this month’s blog (It’s About Service), I have a slightly different look at Service this month.  After opening a new restaurant 6 weeks ago, I find myself thinking a lot about the basics of a restaurant.  Building a new restaurant is all about pleasing every single guest that visits your establishment and not trying to do too much at first.

Now that I’m well into my quiet moment, I can reflect on what we have done well in this new venture.  One of the best things we did is let the staff be themselves.  To have a lot of regular guests already and the majority of them making a point to seek out a member of the kitchen staff or a server is really rewarding.  My team is building relationships and the guests are receiving true genuine service.  I have encouraged them to engage in personal conversations, to get to know the guests and to simply “Be Themselves”.

The “Let Them Loose” policy needs to be carefully communicated.  I have put this into the staff training procedures so that they know exactly what we are trying to do.  Long conversations can pull away from other service so I have trained them on when to do this and what topics to discuss.  When it is appropriate we have cooks doing table visits, servers sitting with the guests and managers actually eating with some of them.

I came up with the idea when I was reading a Secret Shopping report from another one of my restaurants when the observer described the difference in service that they received to the service a table of regulars received.  They stated that the service was like night and day.  The regulars were friends of the server and the observer and his guest felt like they were bothering the server.  This server has been there for years and once you get to know her, she’s awesome, but until then, she can appear distant.  It’s very easy for restaurant owners and managers to only grade staff on the relationships we have with our staff and not the way they connect with our guests.

My new “Let Them Loose” policy has been monitored very closely and yes, even Secretly Shopped.  Let your staff get to know your guests, train them on the best way to do that and make sure you monitor the service they give with a good Secret Shopping program.  The guest perspective is too important to not be on top of this.

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