Say you are in the bar area of one of your locations. The bar is busy, crowded even, and a steady flow of traffic is coming through the door. The bartender is hard at work, shaking cocktails, pulling the tap and ringing the register. You then notice the newcomers at the bar are a bit agitated; they’ve been waiting patiently, but the bartender hasn’t even acknowledged them — not even a smile or a “Welcome, I’ll be with you folks in just a moment.”
Chances are, you’d soon be all over that bartender and the unit manager about the importance of that first interaction with the guest, and it’s relevance to the impression they form of your place. Professional bartenders know, especially on a busy night, making eye contact with the guest and recognizing them through any small act goes a long way toward forging a positive relationship with them — one that ultimately leads to positive sales.
This is also true with your own business dealings. Are you quick to respond to people who approach you, whether via email, phone or even text? No matter how busy you are – and aren’t we all incredibly busy these days – do you at least acknowledge receiving the message?
I point this out because the culture of the front-of-house staff begins with the corporate management staff. Responsive and professional corporate managers influence others in the organization to follow that lead and mimic those behaviors. Professional courtesy at the highest level translates to professional courtesy where it matters most: at the guest level.
Why do I bring this up? Well, I just started my own consulting firm — a new venture that I love, but one that depends on constant communication with clients. Where technology is today, there should be no excuse for a delayed response. Sending a quick note that you received an e-mail or a phone call can go a long way in establishing bonds, just like quick eye contact at the bar makes the guest know you see them and you care.
No one is too busy and no one believes you are. Think about that bartender. Would you tolerate the notion that he’s too busy to at least nod a greeting to a new patron at his bar? Then why would you do the same by not recognizing another professional in our business? Being timely and straightforward are productive measures to take in any business because they show a level of respect to the people with whom you’re interacting.
Just as that bartender needs to do his best to greet guests and quench their thirst quickly, we, too, should do the same by answering voicemails and e-mails in a timely manner. What is a timely manner? That’s up to you, of course. Forty-eight hours after receipt should be more than enough time to at least get a message back out to say, “Talk to you on X date,” “Thanks but no thanks” just as long as you respond. People take note of these considerate professional behaviors, and they’ll be more inclined to do business with you in the future.
Remember, your reputation is only as good as your word, and if you are not responding to e-mails or messages, you are speaking volumes.
Whether you work behind a bar or behind a desk, take these quick tips and turn them into work habits. You will be better off for it. Sure, it’s easy to get 100 or so e-mails behind and thinking about responding to each is overwhelming, but find that middle ground and get it done. In the end, you and your entire organization will benefit from it in ways you cannot even imagine.