Saturday, April 11, 2009

Doesn't Service Matter?

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I work in the restaurant industry and have been to some horrible kitchens and dining rooms. Not that they're really dirty or need new equipment, although I've seen some pretty bad places, but that they need to be taken care of. Same with the customers who come in to eat, they need to be taken care of too.

Service starts with a smile, a couple of recommendations from the menu or daily specials, and takes a drink order. Did the server suggest to save room for dessert? Was the water glasses refilled? In California, we have to watch our water usage, so servers should really ask first. If a first timer, explain what the restaurant's speciality is or a "Must Try" item. How many times have you been to a place and then afterwards someone asks you if you had the ____. You reply, "Oh, I didn't know that was their speciality."

A year ago, I was in a small restaurant for lunch. It was my first time and I asked the server what she recommended? She answered with 3 entrees, they all sounded good and I couldn't decide. She asked the kitchen if they could do a small sampler plate with all three and the kitchen said they would. This server suggested a wonderful homemade soup and kept telling me to save room for dessert (about 3 times). I ended up having soup, an entree sampler, and dessert. She kept my drink refilled and I left that establishment very happy. All of her recommendations were excellent, just think I was probably going to order a club sandwich. She was a pro at customer service and because of it, I listened to her. Here's the kicker, I ended up spending 2x what I would if I just had the club sandwich, but I wasn't thinking about what it cost for lunch, I left happy. I'm sure this server was happy too, as her tip was doubled.

When I'm training servers, I tell this story. Most people don't get it, they try to up sell everyone. Making suggestions is great, but it's the customer service and the details that's important. I'm always asked for my opinion on restaurants that I've visited as a customer. Food is 40%, Service is 40%, and Atmosphere is 20%. My friends are always wondering why I talk about "Service" being an important part when they just want to hear about the food. I believe it's the Total Dining Experience that's important. Regardless if it's a fast food place, fine dining, or a taco truck, the review should be the complete package. If servers want to make more tips, they should focus on customer service and evaluate the level of service they provide. I was pretty successful at serving, but I had a very good teacher...

Please share your comments with me, I appreciate it.

3 comments:

www.bellacuisine.org said...

Couldn't agree more. If I want good food I will cook at home with friends. If I go to a Restaurant I believe it is the full experience from wait-staff through dessert. Otherwise, why not just get take out? Well said! Thanks.

anita said...

Very well said. While the atmosphere or the food may have enticed you to to visit the establishment, its the service that ultimately breaks or seals the deal. Unfortunately for many, it is the smallest of equations, as owners/managers often place too much focus on other areas, ie: food, decor, etc., thereby minimizing the one category that can transition them from good to great.
Thanks for the posting! You hit the nail on head.

Kahuna of the Kitchen said...

I appreciate your comments. I realize that it's an uphill battle, but it's something important to me when working with my restaurant clients and their staff. When I was a server, I was totally motivated by making more money. I did have good trainers who kept saying that the money will come with great service. Some things are out of your hands, situation in the kitchen...