As restaurateurs, you dine out frequently and when you do I assume you have a critical eye on other’s operations. If you’re anything like me, you analyze the curb appeal, overall ambiance and above all else, that restaurant’s service and food and beverage quality.
But in your own restaurant, do you make it a habit to look at every detail from your customer’s eye and viewpoint? So many full-serve restaurants that I visit in my travels have what seems to be a quick-service mindset: They get you in, get you out and give you the bill, with little regard to your overall experience.
Don’t get me wrong. Some of the best quick-serve and fast casual chains have their operations really dialed in, but their M.O. is really all about quality, convenience and speed with a smile. This is just the opposite of the typical full-serve restaurant, which should be striving to provide a comfortable and leisurely experience that is a celebration of food, drink and service.
I believe the restaurant business is one of 1,000 details and the best restaurants understand and stay on top of each detail. Of course, there are lots of balls in the air, but their staffs are well-trained to see what the guest sees, fix what’s broken and deliver superior and consistent dining experiences, making each guest feel like they are the most important guest. This is a personal touch, with each member of the team recognizing that dining out in a full-serve restaurant is often a special occasion… a well-deserved break from cooking, a birthday, anniversary or other meaningful event. Guests want and expect to be recognized, pampered, informed about what’s most enjoyable and, above all, served.
Quick-serve restaurants succeed in delivering a standard consistent menu immediately. That’s what their customers expect. But full-serve operations have more moving pieces with more chance for things to go wrong.
Here’s where those thousands of details come in to play. A server gets double-seated and slammed… the kitchen backs up on a busy Saturday night and the guest ends up watching, waiting and wondering what’s happening. You’ve all heard the expression “you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” But don’t take this phrase to heart. As a restaurateur or manager, your primary goal should be to understand, meet and exceed every guest’s expectations through training, teamwork and the best efforts of your staff.
Accomplish this consistently, and your restaurant suddenly has a powerful competitive advantage. You’ll know you’ve reached a breakthrough when your staff and customers begin singing your restaurant’s praises and word-of-mouth marketing drives repeat business and buzz for your restaurant. Building a powerful restaurant brand starts with empowering your team to over-deliver amazing dining experiences, one guest at a time.