I’ve always believed the three most important attributes of any successful restaurant are food, service and ambiance. You naturally expect in any restaurant that the food will be good and that the atmosphere is comfortable and relaxing, appropriate to the menu and concept. Many in the business would argue that each of these three attributes are equally important, yet to me as a former operator, Service really should stand above.
What happens when a restaurant shines in food, ambiance or both at the expense of your customer’s overall experience?
Here’s a case in point. One of my favorite local restaurants has a great vibe and the consistently very good food and drinks. The aesthetic details of the interior seating and bar, as well as the outdoor deck are really comfortable and appealing, and the place is usually busy. I live in a mountain resort town where everyone is active outdoors, and this restaurant is somewhat of a shrine to this lifestyle. I can relate as I once owned a successful ski resort restaurant with a skiing theme.
Although I like visiting this place, the service often is a bit disorganized and lackluster. Granted, I may be quite biased about great restaurant service, but the customers here don’t seem to mind, as the restaurant has a loyal following. But what if this clientele really knew and cared about what they were missing and it changed their dining habits? No restaurant can ever afford to take any customer for granted, as the free market usually ensures numerous other choices all vying for a share of the diner’s dollar.
Every detail counts when you’re running restaurants, but in my book treating every customer like the most important customer and making every experience better than the last is how true success is won in this most demanding and fickle business.
It takes consistent and regular training to overdeliver on service, as well as excel at the other two important attributes. Every staff person should understand how their unique role in elevating every guest’s experience makes or breaks that restaurant.
Now the heavy lifting begins. A daily preshift meeting becomes standard operating procedure. Staffers are trained in basic hospitality and salesmanship. Teamwork and communication are choreographed between all front-of-house positions and coordinated with the expeditor and back of house. The service team is conditioned to recognize, thank and welcome (or welcome back) each guest.
Empowerment is the key to this powerful competitive advantage. Train your staff to think like an owner or manager and then to notice every detail, in the sea of 1,000 restaurant details that your customer ultimately sees. Impressions are either positive or negative and are lasting.
Going back to my example: With a new commitment to service to complement the great food and atmosphere, how much busier and more profitable would this place be? Can you see the domino effect that service can have on the entire operation… from lower staff turnover, to customers who now become your best marketers, not to mention an ever-growing bank account and pride in the staff and management?
Approach your business from a fresh perspective each new day, play your best game and always keep open to new ideas and opportunities. Achieve this pinnacle in your operation and your restaurant can elevate the industry and raise the bar in your market area. Believe me, your guests will notice and reward your restaurant with their business.