Whether you run a food truck, coffee shop, fast casual or full-service restaurant, know that every interaction between your staff and each guest must be consistent and memorable across your operation. This comes with regular consistent training as a given, but more importantly the culture of your place. Are you building and sustaining a culture focused on hospitality, family and fun?
Hospitality is as simple as this: Are all aspects of the service provided by each and every team-member happening “for” the guest or “to” the guest? With consistent training, the former should be your experience offering and become the calling card of your operation and remember, every detail counts in the guest’s eye.
Case in point: My wife and I recently had a very special family friend visit after several years. We wanted to take him someplace special where we could catch up while enjoying a great dining experience. He’s a beer aficionado with a sophisticated palate, so we had just the place in mind. Our chosen establishment is new within the last two years and has always had a great vibe. A warm happening atmosphere in a terrific location.
We arrived and were immediately greeted by a caring personable host who asked if we cared for a booth, a table or seat at the bar. We chose the bar for a drink to settle in and chat before later moving on to a pleasant dinner at a table. There were three seats open and as soon as we were seated, our bartender welcomed us with his name, a smile, drink list and a few suggestions. This set the stage for apps to share with our chosen beverages. The food arrived quickly and both were delicious and appreciated recommendations. Our bartender also kept our water glasses full, a seemingly small but important detail even though he was busy.
As we enjoyed our bar experience, it was easy to notice our barman providing consistently prompt and attentive personal service to all his customers. We were asked if we cared to order dinner or move to the dining room and have our tab either closed out or transferred. This is a moment of truth and credit to our bartender, as some service staff may be reluctant to transfer a tab in fear of losing their fair share of the tip. By contrast, he was most concerned with our overall enjoyment of his restaurant’s experience.
Our friendly host immediately found us a table in front of the fire as we anticipated our dining experience to come. I was looking forward to the new menu as it had been awhile since our last visit. Our server greeted us quickly with an interesting and engaging personality as he took our drink order. I was in the mood to switch to Gin but before placing an order for my usual brand, the server recommended an interesting choice which I had not tried before and thoroughly enjoyed. We were off to a great start and I expected more suggestions that would add to our enjoyment of this special occasion until… my expectations fell short.
I believe that the service team should educate, inform and entertain; taking the customer on a “magical journey” of everything special about the place. This is what I call “paramount service”.
Instead, we waited quite some time for our drinks to arrive and oddly after providing my gin suggestion, this server put a glass of wine down in front of me instead of our friend who ordered it. No sooner had we tasted our first sips, the server then disappeared. Believe it or not, it was close to twenty minutes before he returned. Then instead of informing of the specials and asking what we were in the mood for, his new approach was “Order Taker” with the pad and pen. Our water glasses were empty, but this was missed.
My salad was delivered to my wife and then, the server proceeded to “auction off the food” not knowing who had ordered which entrée. Thankfully, the food was expertly prepared and delicious with amazing presentations and flavor profiles. I would have preferred fresh cracked pepper on my seared scallops, but none was offered, nor were there salt and pepper shakers on our table, another important detail missed. After dinner, our table got the usual “Anyone care for dessert” question, but at this point without the server offering suggestions and bringing these to life, we were ready to pay the check and leave the restaurant.
Food, Service & Ambiance are all important factors in any dining experience regardless of how the food delivered or the price point. As you can see, our lasting impressions were those of inconsistent service delivery and critical details either provided or missed entirely.
I believe that even if something goes wrong with a meal, the service can overcome the negative and turn the situation around. Do this and your customer will more than likely return for a second chance. Ignore paramount service and each important detail will have obvious and lasting consequences.