Serving

What do you serve your guests?

One of the toughest lessons to learn in the hospitality industry is that you don’t just offer your customers food items from your menu. Once you realize what your product offering is, the sooner you can start to understand the value you offer. And once you understand that, you can determine how much value to ask for it.

Let’s talk about what an ‘offering’ is in marketing terms. Simply put, your offering is the TOTAL amount of value you offer your customer. It’s beyond simply the product or service you give. It includes things like;

-quality of ingredients and materials

-convenience, hours of operation, take out menu, is delivery available

-reputation, experience, pedigree, etc

Your product offering should be specifically designed to satisfy the needs and wants of your target demographic. Essentially, you choose your customer, research what they need and want, then deliver it. Obviously, it’s possible to deliver more than 1 product or service and these form the basis of your product mix. In the case of a restaurant, your product mix is basically your menu.

A feature is a characteristic of an offering. For example, having delivery available is one thing but being accessible through UberEATS, Door Dash, Feast, Foodora, etc offers much more value to your customers.

When a feature satisfies a need or a want, then that’s called a benefit.

To really have a chance at succeeding in business, your goal, as a restaurateur and a business person, is to offer more value and more benefits to consumers than your competition. You want to establish yourself as THE place that understands your customer and gives them complete satisfaction.

It’s not the easiest thing to do, I’ll admit. But the trick in business is to choose the most attractive target demographic. Are they big enough to sustain your business? Are they close by and convenient to access? Can you research them easily and understand their needs/wants? These are the types of questions you should be thinking of before you even get into business because they’ll help you decide what offering has the best chance of success.

So take the time to understand and clearly define your product offering. Treat it like you do your daily special. You’ll find that it’s extremely valuable to you and your staff to know exactly what you serve your guests every time you greet them at the door.

~Rob

Thanks for reading and I hope you find my information useful. As usual, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment below.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and visit my website, robrosenblattconsulting.com to see what I can do for you.

Is the customer always right? Finally! The answer revealed!

Boom! And that’s how you do clickbaiting, kids.

Seriously though, I see this question get asked and answered a lot and since I’ve been in the hospitality business for 20 years and I’ve dealt with the business side of restaurants, the impact of social media, word of mouth, negative Yelp reviews, etc, etc….I have a strong opinion on this.

Is the customer always right? The short answer, no.

The long answer is customers and restaurants aren’t adversaries fighting to get food-for-free vs. low-cost/quick-bucks, respectively. Buyers and sellers have a relationship where each side trusts the other to exchange value that are (roughly) equal. In the case of restaurants, it’s food and a quality dining experience for cold, hard cash.

In all my years of serving and bartending, I never thought that customers who were complaining were trying to get a free meal out of me. But let me show you this diagram and make a few points.Diagram service

The main point, is clearly that the customer leaves happy. Although, yes, it might be incredibly challenging to influence a customer’s mood such that they go from upset to happy, it is possible. Don’t underestimate the power of…

-recognizing and acknowledging a customer’s issue

-apologizing humbly and sincerely

-offering to make restitution and fix any concerns

-and lastly, thanking the customer for bringing their issue to your attention and telling the customer you hope you can do business again, and further deepen your relationship.

Notice in the diagram that a dining experience is a process. The ideal one for a server is one where there is limited engagement because it’s unnecessary or intrusive. The ideal experience for a customer is one where they have the server’s attention whenever they need it during dinner.

Hospitality is a business whereby both the buyer and seller have prior expectations of how the interaction should play out. Both sides have had plenty of both positive and negative experiences to form a good idea of what the ideal dinner is. The job of the restaurant is to ensure that you communicate, clearly, the value of the dining experience and then deliver what you promised.

When a customer enters your restaurant, all the hard work of marketing has been completed already. The customer has made their purchase decision and there’s no need to understand the customer’s “black box”, consumer behaviours, buyer’s characteristics, and it’s too late to try to change and rebuild your marketing mix.

To sum up, when a customer looks at your menu and chooses their meal, remember the phrase “It’s 10 times more expensive to find a customer than to keep an existing customer”. Building a positive relationship with your customer is the cheapest option in the long run and well worth the food cost of a free dessert.

~Rob

Thanks for reading and I hope you find my information useful. As usual, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment below.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and visit my website, robrosenblattconsulting.com to see what I can do for you.

 

The Power of Politeness

Everyone knows the importance of a good first impression. And that means ensuring that your staff reflect your company values and present themselves professionally at all customer contact points.

And it’s important not to forget stressing the importance of manners. Many in the service industry forget that hospitality is a noun and related to the adjective hospitable which means to be cordial and receptive towards guests. Your staff should be encouraged to go above and beyond providing basic customer service, and to be polite, welcoming, attentive, humble and sympathetic to every guest at every opportunity.

Polite- The words your staff use convey the respect you have for your customer so make sure your staff use “may I, excuse me, please, and thank you” when appropriate.

Welcoming- The tone in which your staff engage guests is reflected in their behaviour. Your staff should be professional enough to “put their game faces on” and smile to guests, say hello when they arrive, introduce themselves, and make eye contact when speaking.

Attentive- Tell your staff to pay attention for clues about anniversaries or birthdays. The simple act of bringing out a dessert with a candle is huge for making a lasting memory and favourable impression. Make sure your staff pay attention to simple things they can do to make the dining experience better. Are your guests eating their meals or do they seem unhappy? If not, this could be a golden opportunity you might be missing.

Humble- Push your staff to be relatable and honest. While it’s important to acknowledge any shortcomings and be honest with guests, your staff should be gracious when accepting praise. There are no egos here. Providing an exceptional meal and a memorable experience is your job.

Sympathetic- Sympathy and understanding might seem generally out of place in the day-to-day workings of your business, but it’s a vital part of being relatable and ensuring your guests realize you’re invested in providing a positive experience.

Being polite is a critical part of building a positive brand image and can help to differentiate yourself from your competition. Wouldn’t you want your business to be known as the friendliest and nicest restaurant to go for dinner?

In short, work with your staff to help them provide personal, professional service. It’ll do wonders for your business and your server’s tips too.

Thanks for reading and I hope you find my information useful. As usual, if you have any questions or comments please feel free to comment below.

Be sure to follow me on Facebook and visit my website, robrosenblattconsulting.com to see what I can do for you.

~Rob

 

4 Business Lessons from a Waiter

Being a waiter can be brutally hard sometimes. You’re on your feet all day, running around the restaurant taking orders, bussing, serving, cleaning up, resetting. On a busy day you wish you had a third arm so you didn’t have to make as many trips back and forth from the line or the dish pit. I’m haunted by the words “Pick-up!” being screamed at me. And let’s be honest, being a server doesn’t exactly get you a ton of respect.

But after 18 years in the hospitality industry working in all the FOH (front of the house) positions, I’ve learned these 4 important lessons for your business.

1. Problem popped up? Don’t bury your head in the sand.

I can’t stress this enough, if you make a mistake or the kitchen makes a mistake…it doesn’t matter to the customer. They want their order fast, hot and fresh just like it’s supposed to happen. You can’t ignore them, walk by them and put them off, embarrassed to apologize for something that maybe isn’t your fault to begin with. But you have to go to them sooner or later so make it sooner.

If you see something isn’t working out as planned, or maybe keeping the schedule is going to be impossible or costs are starting to balloon, try to be upfront with the client. Chances are they can see things aren’t running as smoothly as they should and you have a chance to address concerns before they become full blown stressors. And your client will appreciate your being proactive instead of reactionary. In short, try to defuse a problem before it explodes.

2. Prepare for the busy season.

7:30 pm on a Saturday night is prime time for restaurants. It’s the busiest day of the week at the time that’s the most sought after by customers. But besides the importance of having everything you need prepped and ready, it’s also really important that you keep things simple. That means no big menu changes, no new trial software, or different server sections. Your staff need to be familiar and work comfortably to be as efficient as possible.

In business that means that you have the foresight to plan ahead and have staff hired and trained for the busy season. Anticipate your needs, prepare for the most common problems and follow these two well-known adages, the Law of the 7 Ps and KISS.

3. The customer may not be right, but they’re paying you so make it right.

This is a toughie because, in the end, the customer is paying for a good/service that you’re providing. It’s really that simple but sometimes customers can make this simple transaction way too complicated and stressful. Bossy, pushy, arrogant, and demanding customers are an almost daily occurrence for most servers. Yet it is possible to sharpen your communication and negotiation skills such that you can satisfy (most) guests.

And that’s the secret, communicating your desire to your guest to make them happy in a calm, polite manner. Instead of saying “but” or “can’t”, tell your guests what you will do for them and show how that it’s above and beyond what you normally provide. It’s accommodate, not acquiesce. Realize that helping your customer pays dividends and that you both benefit in the end.

4. It’s all about the experience.

Whether or not a guest comes back to a restaurant depends on their own criteria but more often than not it’s about value, personal tastes, and the experience. While you can tinker with prices and portion sizes and try new recipes every once in a while, you interact with your guests every day and a great deal of these interactions form the overall experience they have with you.

Every contact point with your customer should be checked to ensure that you’re providing a positive experience. Do your staff know proper phone etiquette? Do you have a list of important information that staff may need to know (so they don’t have to put someone on hold to find out what your hours of operation are, which happens a lot)? Is there anything broken or in need of repair? Is your business clean and welcoming? All these things are routinely overlooked but so important.

It doesn’t take a genius to be a good server, but surprisingly there are many terrible servers out there. The same applies to any business and yet we’ve all heard horror stories that have left us wincing. But if you remember to acknowledge and communicate, prepare, accommodate, and create a positive experience, I believe you’ll cement your reputation in the hearts and minds (and wallets) of your customers.

~Rob

For close to 20 years, Rob has worked in bars, pubs, pool halls, fine dining restaurants, bistros, banquet halls and everything in between doing every job there is to do.