Ask a room full of food and beverage operators why they’re in business, and the likely response is, “to make money.” That is, everyone except for the one businesswoman in the back, the one with the air of success, who knows the correct answer is, “to satisfy the guests.”
The formula for success in this business is far from tricky: Keep the clientele happy, and they’ll return to dump their discretionary income into your coffers. On the other hand, dissatisfied guests leave, delete your contact information from their phones and advise everyone they come in contact with for weeks to do the same.
So, if you’re short on specific ideas on how to increase customer satisfaction, consider the following offerings.
1. Waltons revisited. Welcome people into your business like you welcome guests into your home. There’s absolutely no difference. Hardware stores attract customers. In this business, we serve guests.
2. Concentrate on hospitality. Like manners, hospitable service is a learned skill that is performed gracefully, naturally. It requires concentration to maintain under pressure. Regardless of how demanding the guests, they deserve your hospitable best.
3. Make inquiries. Don’t be reticent to ask your guests questions. Are they celebrating a special occasion? Are they hungry? Do they want appetizers? Don’t operate in the dark; find out something about your guests.
4. Offer suggestions. Guests nearly always will heed a menu suggestion or follow a beverage recommendation. But get rid of the canned delivery. Offer suggestions like you were feeding guests insider information; they’ll love the personal attention.
5. Catch a name. Who doesn’t deserve being called by their given name? Whether it’s early in the evening or just before he or she departs, make a point of getting a guest’s name, work to remember it and then use it. It’s the highest form of acknowledgement.
6. Call backs. Don’t presume anything. Shortly after you serve a guest, go back and inquire if everything is satisfactory. At the very least, it is attentive service; at best, it creates another sales opportunity.
7. Water of life. Many types of cocktails should be served with a back of water. So after you serve a martini or scotch, neat, return moments later with a glass of water. It’s a classy thing to do.
8. Be entertaining. Humor is the great equalizer, and something that nearly everyone appreciates. If you can make someone smile, it may prove to be the best thing that happens to someone that day.
9. Safeguard sobriety. Guest intoxication defeats the ultimate mission. There’s little chance someone can truly appreciate your business if they leave impaired or lapsing into unconsciousness. If they make it home, they’ll have regrets the next morning.
10. Show appreciation. Always thank guests for their patronage. Without them, success isn’t possible; let guests know that you appreciate them choosing your establishment. Acknowledgment leads to repeat business.