Service really begins at your front door. Before you even begin training your staff to serve and sell, do you regularly see what the guest sees?
I have always believed that the restaurant business is one made up of a thousand details. Even though we get 990 of them right, it’s the 10 we miss that the guest always sees, and these impressions are lasting ones with potentially great negative impact on our businesses.
I have always trained my staff on the fine art of noticing the guest contact points, putting themselves in the guest’s shoes as they enter the restaurant for their shifts. We can never underestimate the importance of having each and every team member notice what the guest may see and fix all those potentially negative impressions before the guest does. Real estate agents talk of “curb appeal” moving the merchandise. The same concept applies to your restaurant.
There are 12 key guest contact points to focus attention on to maximize your curb appeal and positive guest impressions. These are:
- Remote contacts (your website, monitoring online reviews, etc.)
- Your entrance
- The host podium
- Your manager(s)
- The bar
- Tabletop items (flatware, glassware, condiments, etc.)
- Food & drinks
- Service staff
- The guest check
- The all-important thank you’s and welcome back!
For example, follow along with these key guest contact points in the order that the guest experiences them:
- Do phone greeters encourage callers to visit your restaurant? Does your website offer a virtual experience of your restaurant? Is it current and viewable from all devices? Do you have a printable menu? Are there any negative or less than flattering online posts?
- Is your parking lot and entrance clean? Are there any lights burned out? Are advertisements or event posters up to date?
- Are your hosts trained to welcome & thank each guest for coming, to communicate with your service team and to make suggestions your guests will enjoy?
- Are your bathrooms maintained every 20 minutes with all dispensers full, dry counters and no overflowing trash receptacles?
- Do your tables wobble and if so, are unsightly coasters and napkins used to prop up a leg?
- Are your condiment dispensers clean and full? Is the floor under tables inspected and clean before seating new guests? Are menus presentable?
- Is each dish served HOT garnished and presented with what I call “WOW FACTOR”?
- Are your service staff product and restaurant knowledgable, ready to educate, inform, entertain and sell?
- Is each guest check accurate, expedited and reconciled quickly?
- Finally, do each of your service team make eye contact, smile, thank every guest and welcome them to return?
Remember, paramount service happens daily behind the scenes in your restaurant before your doors open for business. Happy repeat customers begin with a caring, noticing and happy staff. Now go out there and Rock Your Restaurant!