Category Archives: guest service

10 Small Ideas that Can Greatly Improve your Restaurant

Success in the restaurant business is built on a lot of different parts—the big things, of course, with menu, décor and service, but also a lot of little things, like sales builders, brand differentiators, cost tweaks, and more.

Hey, what’s the little idea? Consider something like one of these:

1. Red Robin’s 20-year-old Bottomless Fries concept—which has since expanded to include endless servings of healthier side dishes such as cole slaw, sweet potato fries, steamed broccoli and side salad

Read on: 10 Little Ideas

Guest Satisfaction Drives Restaurant Growth

Restaurateurs will be happy to learn that American consumers are starting to eat out again. Data from 2013 reports that American families averaged about 4 meals per week outside of the home, almost a 60% increase from the end of the recession. With this good news comes a very important learning: consumers are now more driven by quality than price.

Read on: Guest Satisfaction: A Top Driver for Restaurant Growth

Restaurant Customer Service – don’t let it hurt your guest experience

I recently visited a popular local fast-casual chicken restaurant after needing a quick, hot dinner. However, I always call in my order first then pick it up to avoid any wait time since it does take a good fifteen to twenty minutes to receive my order. After all, I am a regular to this establishment and know the ropes by now.

Upon arriving at the restaurant, I let the two young men at the counter know my name and what I ordered. They gazed at me puzzled because they did not recognize my order. After a couple of minutes shuffling around order tickets, one worker pointed to the other that he did not put my order in the system. .. read more about restaurant guest service.

How does your restaurant rate for dining experience?

According to a recent Zagat Survey , 57% of participants cited service as the weakest link in the dining-out experience, and “hospitality” of the overall dining experience as a 20 out of a possible 30. Although both these figures represent an improvement over previous results, it’s doubtful that any savvy restaurant professional would judge these to be good enough.

The data also hints at what the service experience really is—not just the ferrying of food and drink from bar and kitchen to table, but the niceties that go along with it.

Read more on restaurant guest service.

 

Upselling in Restaurants

Not so long ago we were at one of our favorite local restaurants—or at least, it used to be—sitting at our favorite place to eat: the bar.

Nowadays, with the eating-at-the-bar phenomenon growing like Topsy, being a bartender can be a pretty good gig income-wise. Perhaps it’s the fact that tending bar is more like being onstage than running between tables is, but customers at the bar can be sitting ducks, and this guy was really pushing his luck.

Read more on suggestive selling in restaurants.

Some Like it Hot

When we think of “comfort food,” why is it that we typically conjure up memories of home? Are you thinking of Grandma’s special peach cobbler, or Mom’s Sunday pot roast? It’s not so much that our moms or grandmothers are truly the best chefs in the world (although this is a popular claim), but I have my own theory. Stay with me on this one.

In my profession, it’s normal for me to be on the road 4 out of 7 days a week, therefore I tend to eat out very often. Sure, I have discerning taste but surprisingly, the flavor of a dish served to me at a restaurant is only a portion of what makes me a happy customer in the end.

 

Think of it like this. My mom’s three cheese lasagna may not taste authentically Sicilian, but everything in her preparation was deliberate, considerate and thoughtful – her main goal was to ensure that when dinner came, I would be served a hot and satisfying meal, ready for me before I even heard my stomach growl. Naturally then, if I ordered my favorite pan seared halibut, what am I going to expect?

For one, it should arrive to me in a timely manner (prompt and courteous service, no less). Secondly, I’m eating my dinner so it’s got to be hot. Have you ever enjoyed a lukewarm or even cold clam chowder? I didn’t think so. And amazingly, of the scores of meals I eat on the road, many restaurants cannot maintain the most basic conventions that mothers across the globe understand, namely, serving food at the right temperature! It’s a no-brainer that still befuddles many establishments.

I truly believe a restaurant’s success lies in giving attention to the details that truly matter in an eater’s experience. Take it from mom and let’s go back to basics, because let’s face it: some like it hot.

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Is It Really What You Think?

Sometimes we get tied up with life, and sometimes we get tied up with work, but when at work; is everyone paying attention?  During a recent discussion with another operator, I posed some questions that I have found the results to be “interesting” to in the past regarding service and overall metrics.

A quick side-note here is that as operators, the numbers are everything to us; yet it’s always healthy to question the numbers every once in a while.  Some major airlines record “take-off” as the time that the blocks under the wheels are removed, not reflecting the true “take-off” time to those reviewing the data.

If you think that’s unrelated, then answer these questions, and then ask your managers and operators the same questions and see if the answers match.  My bet is that they won’t.

  • Are beverages considered a menu item in reporting ‘cover counts’?
  • Is every negative comment card or email that is submitted received and followed up on?
  • Does every server follow the steps of service and upsell when appropriate?
  • Do bartenders know the menu as well as the servers?
  • Do all of the cooks prepare the dishes consistently following approved standards? 
  • How long do walk-in guests wait on a busy night?

There are many examples where Synergy is on-site performing property evaluations, and we are meeting with an owner who has one perception of their product and services, which it is not always in sync with their metrics when reviewed with us.

The morale to the story is that reality needs to be validated, or it’s no longer reality, it’s a perception or a memory.  I will never forget a visit to a location where the owner was talking up his new cocktail menu on the drive from the airport, and when we got to the store, the manager at that location had not even been notified of the month old promotion.

As 2009 slowly comes to a close, take some time at your next operational meeting to shake the tree a little, and see what may be loose.  Check your training practices, your customer service interactions and communication practices, and some of the other things that you never question for accuracy, and maybe you too will find a store without your new cocktail menu.

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