The Compelling Atmosphere of Mediocrity: Change Your Focus
By Meg McDonough
- Are you falling short on customer expectations?
- Is your staff compelled to exceed your sales goals?
- As the senior dining room manager, do you have to constantly re-charge your waitstaff with new incentives to motivate them to improve their guest interactions, or are they self-motivated and leaders among their peers?
- Do your employees share in the company vision and are they proud of their efforts (singly and collectively) to continually provide outstanding customer service-and customer conversions?
Learn how to profile your dining patrons and look for more subtle upselling opportunities
Not every diner wishes to be approached with an overbearing server who may not recognize the level of privacy involved with, say, a business power lunch. This may be a party of two, or a group of 10-in any case, discretion needs to be exercised when a server interrupts a conversation in order to take the order. Some servers have better techniques than others and are attentive in timing their approach to the table, while others are feeling the cost-crunch to turning tables and getting orders sped through. Will the tip be any higher for turning tables or less for the intrusive, rushed-server mentality? Perhaps the tip will be commensurate with the level of attention to diners (e.g., power lunch executives) where discretion and a well timed order-taking heeds to the level of service expected by your business dining patrons, for instance. While business executives dining at your restaurant are not necessarily an exceptional demographic mark, however, they generally tend to have a higher propensity for service demands.
Undoubtedly, much of your selling and upselling opportunities will reflect on your waitstaff's personal interaction and ability to commit themselves to changing their focus on selling your restaurant. Yes, they are selling the atmosphere, the dining experience, and brokering the deal to close on successfully promoting your menu (daily specials, chef's recommendations, two-for-one promotionals, comped glass of wine, etc.), and having return visits.
As an example, are you offering your dining patrons an opportunity to provide feedback on new menu items you are trying out for the season? Feedback can be the best survey method and can be taken verbally, via email, or by response card handed out at the end of the meal. Make sure you provide a "link" on the card to your brand's website to access an interactive survey. Provide a printed coupon for a complimentary glass of wine on their next visit (or similar promotional) for their effort in submitting their response(s). Such feedback will not only allow you to learn which menu items are keepers but also how to promote your menu through (pre-approved) supplied testimonials in your flyers, website, and ad campaigns. Who needs a consultant when your guests can tell you right away what's great and whether they would recommend others to patronize your restaurant?
Continue developing employee sales skills
If your staff doesn't understand or subscribe to your unique branding strategy, it can have an adverse effect on a variety of business operations. Your ability to sell a great customer experience, as well as having an effective internal branding strategy, is essential to how your employees facilitate that customer experience every day. Providing a personal guarantee for continuous improvement on the delivery of service and focusing on server-to-guest interactions is an ongoing commitment where mediocrity should move towards success.
Meg McDonough, President of Luxury Hospitality Consultants, LLC in Florida, is a regular contributor for HospitalityEducators.com.