The Service: key to the success of any restaurant

In Disney amusement parks they manage to take the money out of your pocket and make you happy at the same time. Go with your wife and two children to one of their parks and even though you go out with an empty wallet and a shaved credit card, you are smiling with happiness. It is not magic; it is the calculated result of Disney's service culture.

Disney employees are trained to be actors in a magnificent production, designed for the enjoyment and convenience of the also information. Although one of the staff is busy sweeping a sidewalk, he will not only be able to answer your question, "where are Mickey and Goofy," he will tell you in a way that you think he is happy to have asked, as if you had asked him. done a favor. You can ask him where the service is, where you can get a straw or a roll for your camera. The Disney sweeper knows that his first job is to serve the customers and then keep the sidewalk clean. All the people who leave Disney are impressed by the service culture.

El restaurant it is a “house” built on three fundamental columns: The product, that is, food and beverages, the service and the environment, with service being the most important column. This last statement is something that most Chefs do not understand, and for this reason many fail when they open their own restaurant. It is a fact that good service can make up for small product failures, but the best product will never make up for product failures the service.

It's hard to define service, but like true love, you know when you find it. Poor are those advisers in administration of companies trying to reduce the concept of service to a neat, measurable and tangible package. Countless seminars and books have been concerned with this issue. Almost every company names quality service as its primary goal. In the end, service is an elusive concept, which is extremely difficult to measure and evaluate.

The irony of "service" is that while it appears "elusive and intangible," it is the blood of the restaurant. According to scientific research by the NRA among frequent clients of restaurants, 49% return for the service, only 12% return for the quality of the food. The quality of the service forms the relationship with those people who pay the salaries of the employees of a restaurant, the guests. To succeed in any restaurant Again, it is necessary to do much more than the word, you need to embrace it, understand it and live it. What I mean is that in the restaurant we have to produce personal relationships and positive emotions, much more than anything else. Guests prefer those restaurants, where they meet the protagonists, where they are attended by friends.

However, although the quality of service depends primarily on human qualities and appears to be elusive and intangible, it is possible to measure it and for the successful operator of a restaurant it is necessary to do so.

Service is the most abused word in the world, it is much more promised than fulfilled, not only in government offices. That is the reason why we all love and are surprised when we find a service out of the ordinary. In my own definition of service, "an excellent waiter is one who anticipates the customer's wishes, fulfills them, and even exceeds them." According to this definition we are talking about attitudes, less about techniques. "We can teach everything except the smile", or "We hire attitudes and train skills and techniques" are some true cited as a starting point to improve the quality of service.

The genuine and personal touch of excellent service begins the moment the customer enters the restaurant's door. "What should be the way your employees approach the customer?" it is the first standard to implement. "There is no second chance for the first impression", the first impression can be decisive for the entire consumer experience.

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Now, welcoming is only one important moment among many others, but it demonstrates the importance of a restaurant operator's primary task of service: detecting and developing human talents. A person who cannot smile or has a hard time looking you in the eyes or is very introverted, this person may be technically very good, but he will never be an excellent waiter. EYE the entrepreneurs: Many new restaurateurs do not pay enough time and attention to the selection and training of their service personnel, because they are concerned about the menu, fighting with the architect about the progress of the construction and with the kitchen supplier because the wonderful oven is locked in customs. In other words, the least important thing is the quality of the service.

The customer defines the service

Here is a golden rule regarding service: "Excellent service can compensate for product failures (food, drink, atmosphere), but the best product can never compensate for mediocre service. ”

Looking for the definition of excellent service, it is helpful to take into account some basic truths. First, service is always defined from the customer's perspective. That is why it is so important to take all the time necessary to select service employees who understand that customers have diverse needs and demands. For example, some clients like to be asked frequently if they need anything else, while others resent being interrupted during their conversations. Notice the difference between a young man who is dating his girlfriend for the first time. He wants everything she could need to enjoy this dinner, unlike a boss who is conducting an interview over a meal. The excellent server is observant, astute, sensitive, paying attention that is, physically and mentally 100% present while serving and anticipating what to do.

We all know that successful service is not a one-time event. In this business, one is as good as past service. It is unfair, but the customer's opinion of your service can be fabulous one day and ruined the next. The atmosphere of his restaurant can be cozy, his dishes wonderful, but poor service can ruin the experience. When the service suffers, the evening will be mediocre, at best. It is the rough awakening for some restaurateurs, who invest a lot of money and creativity in creating the best concept at the best price, and then they realize that their service does not meet the standards of their clients. After all, it is the service commitment that sells a restaurant.

Evaluate the service

Taking into account the importance of the service for the customer experience of a restaurant results in the need to measure its quality. An evaluation system does not need to be very complicated or sophisticated, nor does it take a long time to do it. Many successful methods are informal and simple.

Creating a system for customer feedback gives you an opportunity to discover potential problems early and do something about them. But to be effective, your methods of collecting and measuring customer information must be consistent, and you and your staff must review and study the results frequently.

Since service is an elusive and intangible concept, the more customer feedback you can acquire the better it is (as long as the process doesn't bother the customer). The first line of feedback are observations from your staff. If you consult them for their opinions and show that you are open to honest answers, their staff can provide an abundance of information about things that work and things that don't work well. On the other hand, they will appreciate your interest and appreciate the fact that you want to be aware of what is going on in the room. The manager should periodically ask, "How are we doing with the service?" If there is a problem, the servers will be the first to know (after the customer) and steps can be started to correct problems.

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Since many service problems require immediate attention, you don't have the luxury of waiting until the last guest has left to fix the problem. You need to create a policy that requires and encourages waiters to report service problems to a manager as they arise, even though the same server caused the problem. Staff should never feel that a problem needs to be hidden, and should understand that mistakes can be fixed if they are dealt with immediately. If you can cultivate this attitude in your staff, your reward will be a constant flow of real-time information, the ability to correct problems when they occur, and many clients rescued.

The managers, be it the captain, the maitre d'hotel or the manager himself, should be present in the room, observing the service to anticipate and prevent problems. Contrary to the waiter, who focuses on his customers, a good manager has a sense of the total level of service being provided in the house. There are always signs when problems are arising, for example a customer looking around to get a waiter's attention, or a diner looking for silverware, salt or pepper at an empty table. A good manager notices these signs and symptoms and moves quickly to fix the respective causes.

Surveys between clients and mysterious clients

The above are informal methods to measure the quality of service, informal but very efficient. In addition to informal methods of measuring customer satisfaction, cards such as "customer suggestions" or "60 seconds", etc., formal surveys that are presented with the account can be used. These can be very useful in evaluating the service from the customer's point of view. Not all customers will take the time to fill them out, but you will be surprised how many will fill them out, particularly if the forms are short and simple, and they do offer a prize for doing so, for example raffling a dinner for two each month among all guests. who fill out the survey. People do almost everything, if they are offered a prize for doing it. Also people like to be asked for their opinions. A problem to be solved is the possible “leakage” of unfavorable comments by the affected people (waiter, cook, manager). Think about this in the implementation of such surveys.

When designing customer feedback, ask questions that are specific and easy to understand. Evaluate the level of customer satisfaction in various aspects of their services, especially the quality of the products, the speed of the service, the attention, the friendliness, the knowledge of the waiter, the variety of the menu, etc. The gradual evaluation can be with grades from 1 to 10, in words (excellent, good, fair, bad) or with any method that you consider appropriate. The important thing is that these surveys are consolidated and evaluated during certain periods of time, for example every month, to set goals for improvement or quality increase in the future. In addition to using these cards to request information about the quality of service and food during your stay, you can use them to detect interest in services or products that you may offer in the future. For example, you could ask if the client was interested in visiting their restaurant for Sunday brunch or if they would contract at home. In this way, the survey could be a valuable source of market research.

The cards can also illuminate problems that you would hardly notice, such as the way reservations are being handled over the phone, or if your restaurant is too noisy. In the latter case, you are not aware of this circumstance, since you are used to the noise level, and your clients rarely mention the problem, since there is little that can be done about it during their stay.

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In addition to asking customers to rate some aspects of your restaurant, you should allow open-ended questions, for example "do you have any other suggestions?"

Within time, your customer feedback can help you determine the quality of your service and food, and where you need to improve. Although there are several computer programs with the theme CRM (customer relationship management), it is not necessary to invest in software for the Insights of the surveys, a simple Excel sheet is enough.

Comment cards are cheap, but they offer you a lot of valuable information that can help with all kinds of strategic that management needs to take. To be effective, however, they need to be used. It's amazing how diligently these cards are presented with the account at the beginning of implementing them, but over time, less and less are presented. Managers and staff must be constantly reminded that each account needs to be accompanied by a survey sheet or card.

Another possibility to help measure your service is to hire a "mystery customer." It is a very efficient service to obtain a clear image of the quality of a restaurant, as long as true experts are hired and the structure of the report to be prepared is analyzed prior to the visit. Certainly more expensive than the previous methods, this class of service offers in-depth and comprehensive reports on its results.

It's about attitudes

While some things are easily said and then difficult to fulfill, in service it is not so. Service is simply an attitude based on the desire to help, honesty, kindness, humility, knowledge, professionalism, and empathy. Everything else necessary for an excellent waiter can be taught. That is the positive and beautiful thing to adopt a strategy of excellence in service.

Improving the quality of service in your restaurant can be a sudden transformation, as long as you embrace "religion." It requires that you become both the “preacher” and the “practitioner” of excellent service and inspire your staff with meetings, hands-on training (answering phones, greeting the guest, engaging in communication, and seeking to gain trust. of it, handling claims, knowing the products, knowing how to sell) and continuous monitoring.

Every manager needs to follow the rule: If your business doesn't work as you imagine it, the first place you should look for the problem is in the mirror.

The service - so intangible, so difficult to define - so easy

What if you are eager to start the company with the best service in the world, one that people of all ages would love? How would you do it?

Here is a suggestion:

"Do what you do in such a good way that customers want to experience it again, but this time together with their friends. ”

Walt Disney

“The goal of an excellent waiter is not that the customer is satisfied. The excellent waiter does everything so that the customer comes back soon and brings us his friends. ”

Composer: Hans Radlmaier. Director of the ITCA-FEPADE Hospitality Academy

I am a dreamer and in my dreams I believe that a better world is possible, that no one knows more than anyone, we all learn from everyone. I love gastronomy, numbers, teaching and sharing all the little I know, because by sharing I also learn. "Let's all go together from foundation to success"
the service
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