Great Service, the overwhelming answer....the follow-up

Thanks for the overwhelming response to the recent blog debating Great Food or Great Service, where to go first. Hands down the choice was Great Service. Two quotes I pulled came from within this community that made me think, so how DO you take the next step in your newly acquired mediocre restaurant.

Read this quote from Jeffrey Summers, Coach and Consultant from Restaurant Coaching Solutions:

"What I find amazing is that so many think that service is critical yet it remains to be the biggest problem in our industry today. Why the disconnect? Is it all just lip service?"

Next a quote from Levi Romero, Multi Unit Manager for Twister's Inc.:

Maybe the follow up question should be: "How do you change the culture to embrace great service as a core value?"

If I had the answers to these two questions I could begin the process of turning around my mediocre establishment. Can you help me out with the answers?

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Comment by Christie Lewis on March 31, 2008 at 7:14am
Ongoing, onsite postivie acknowledgement and reinforcement is key, and really not so difficult to pull off as long as it is at the top of your "to do" list during a shift. A simple, 'that group on table 7 look like they are having a great experience today...good work", or "I notice you've always go something in your hands coming back out of the dining room...that's terrific...can you take fresh bread to #4 on your way back out?...looks like they're ready" wonders. In addition, one of the side benefits of an online training system is using it to send emails, text messages etc. to keep that positive spirit going. Use it also to initiate frequent self assessments or polls letting your staff know their input is valued. It's similar to life in's the little things that make all the difference.
Comment by Jackie on March 28, 2008 at 9:39pm
I think good service is sooo important. Without it even the best of meals tastes off. Luckily in my neck of the woods, South Africa, we have fabulous service in hotels and restaurants. Could be because we rely a lot on our tourist trade.
Comment by Christie Lewis on March 21, 2008 at 7:47am
Because service is about people, I think there is still too much resistance to using technology to help with these challenges. As a provider to the industry, I see how, despite the talk of the importance of service training and the critical importance of genuine hospitality, it still too often gets the short end. Don't resist using online learning to help you. Training can be accessed in brief, modular formats, frequent self assessments can keep people on track, surveys by management can glean valuable feedback and help team members feel valued and involved....there are so many ways it can bring connectedness, consistency, and accountability to all levels. In training there is often so much talk about the "pre shift huddle", but in reality, your staff typically comes in at staggered times so it helps to use the medium most of your server generation is using to communicate with each other anyway....the web. To them it does not feel reaches out, is accessible, and crosses boundaries.
Comment by Jim Connor on March 19, 2008 at 6:45pm
Hey Andy,
sorry, i have not got back to you on some of your questions/inquiries,, but today is my first day back from TEN Wonderful days of Vacation,,, so i will get back to you in the near future, only have 347 e mails to go through... also, who is you friend Mistie Lonardo, looks familiar?
Comment by Andy Swingley on March 18, 2008 at 6:45am
Donna, you are 100% right...we sometimes forget after doing this for years that you have to teach the Basics everyday.

We believe that because we get it that if they don't get it is because they don't have the "inherent" behavior.

That is why we have training to begin with.....put an average team player in an awesome environment and they will perform better. Just an illustration not a comment to keep average people
Comment by Donna Flynn on March 18, 2008 at 6:22am
You know, I think sometimes the concepts of service and hospitality are taken for granted. By that, I mean that employees are sometimes expected to just "get it." Taking the time to model, reinforce, and patiently explain what these concepts really mean is often skipped. Perhaps it is because if you've been in the industry a long time, you know these concepts so well that they have become second nature. If you think about the where your employees come from and what they have seen modeled in their homes and with their friends, they may have no idea what service and hospitality really are. Bottom line, the ability to act on the concepts of "service" and "hospitality" do not come from common sense, and I don't believe people either have it or they don't (except in extreme cases). I do agree that attitude, intelligence, and work ethic tend to be a more inherent in who a person is, but I still think service and hospitality are skills. Similar to Matt's earlier example of balancing a tray of drinks, they are actually concepts that have to be observed and learned.
Comment by LSUBEER on March 18, 2008 at 12:49am
Service is the ABC's of the process which anybody can be taught, but it is feeling that is the key. I have recently instituted a new hiring practice for my restaurant. I tell any potential hires that I will train them for "X" amount of shifts at which time a "trial" period for a week to two weeks will be used. At the end of the "trial" period I will then decide whether or not the potential hire demonstrated the characteristics that I am looking for. These people I have found so far have taken it as a challenge to prove themselves to me. In this "trial", I am able to see intangibles that are difficult to hire for: work ethic, common sense, intellegence, teamwork, attitude and the kind of person he/she truly is. No more will I have a server skate on sidework or complain about hours or money after 2 shifts and have that person continue to work for me. Many times we are stuck with hires because you don't want to admit the mistake. This way, I have people that truly want to be at my restaurant-or they would not go through the training and "trial period" in the first place. I also get a sneak peak before I actually "hire" them.. Of course this is not fool proof, but it is better than what I had.
Comment by Steve Totillo on March 17, 2008 at 7:59pm
The Wise Randy has a great question.......................... We know the answers of WHAT to do, the question is WHY DON"T WE DO IT?
Comment by Randy Caparoso on March 17, 2008 at 4:29pm
Sounds reasonable to me, Sean and Donna... but given the dearth of ideal service in the U.S., why do *you* think we don't usually see these ideas executed in the restaurant business?
Comment by Donna Flynn on March 17, 2008 at 4:22pm
Here is an interesting perspective from the customer's point of view. Clearly, he cares a lot about service and the "little things":




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