A Tale of Two Restaurants

T.J. Schier

Visitors: 125

Scene 1. A quick-serve restaurant, Anywhere, USA.
Cashier (no eye contact with guest): For here or to go?
Guest: Here. I’ll have a Burger Deal #1. [Wow. What a nice greeting. ]
Cashier: Okay. What kind of drink?
Guest: Diet cola. [Why don’t they just let me do this myself? The cashier isn’t doing anything but pressing buttons. ]
Cashier: Want dessert?
Guest: No thanks. [I don’t even know what they serve for dessert. ]
Cashier: $4.29
Guest: Thanks. [For letting me give you my money. ]

Scene 2. A quick-serve restaurant, Anywhere, USA.
Cashier (smiling and looking guest in the eye): Welcome! Have you ever been here before?
Guest: Every week!
Cashier (pointing to a countertop mat): Thanks for coming back! So you know about our new Deluxe special?
Guest: No, I don’t. I’ll try one of those.
Cashier: The meals come in two sizes-regular and value-sized. Which do you prefer?
Guest: I’ll try the value-sized.
Cashier: Great choice! We get lots of compliments on it! Your total is $4.99. Have a great meal and let me know if you need anything else.
Guest: I will!

In Scene 1, the cashier offers service, which leads to a satisfied guest. That’s okay. But in Scene 2, the cashier offers hospitality, which leads to a loyal guest. That’s better.

All too often, we are guilty of forcing our cashiers to follow a series of service steps in an effort to standardize our delivery system. To that end, we simply process people through a line. As guests, if we wanted that, we could simply have a terminal where we enter our own order. That idea would be as successful as the failed full-serve restaurants where you had to cook your own steak!

As Bruce Tulgan, founder of Rainmaker Thinking, says, “Do you want your spouse satisfied or loyal?" Therefore, our cashiers need to stop acting like service robots and start providing a better experience. The scenarios above take the same amount of time for the guest but provide a totally different tone for their meal. Consistent performance at this level will enhance the benefit for the guest, distance yourself from the competitors, and drive frequency-the only true way to build long-term sales.

Guests want value. As you know, value equals the benefit received divided by the money spent. How can any other type of restaurant provide a better value for the dollar than a quick-serve with a fairly low check average? All it takes is moving the benefit to the guest. Here’s how.

Shift communication: Spend 30 seconds per employee prior to and after each shift. Let them practice on you-versus the guest-and review their shift numbers, their best highlights, and opportunities they have.

Guarantee message: On table tents, counter mats, register toppers, or buttons/stickers on the cashier, allow the guest to manage the employee while you are not around. (See “The Training Manual" in the March 2003 issue of QSR for more details. )

First-timer identification: Add a button on the register for “first-time guests. " The cashier can find out if the guest is a first-time visitor to your concept, press the button, and it prints on the ticket. The kitchen can ensure it’s outstanding and the manager can stop by their table if they are dining in. It really creates a wow!

Grow your skills: If you don’t know what you don’t know, you can’t be an effective leader. Constantly learn something new and teach it to your staff. A few books every manager should read:

First, Break All the Rules, by Marcus Buckingham. Challenges the norms and teaches you how to move your leadership style significantly forward.

MYOB, by Jim Sullivan. Plenty of easy-to-implement ideas (and laughs) for any restaurant.

Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, by Jeffrey Gitomer. Clearly illustrates the point outlined in the scenes above. Okay is not okay.

Service That Sells, Pencom Publishing. Full of selling ideas.

Send Flowers to the Living! Rewards, Contests and Incentives to Build Employee Loyalty, by TJ Schier. If you want the employee to treat the guest better, you need to treat the employee better. This book has plenty of restaurant examples.

Reading articles and books or watching videos is a start but cannot replace practice and repetition. It starts with you, then your managers and employees. Watching Tiger Woods gives us motivation but doesn’t make us a better golfer without practice and dedication. Begin moving the hospitality needle and see your sales increase!

T. J. Schier is service professional, consultant and speaker with over 20 years experience in operations and training. Founder and president of Incentivize Solutions and podTraining, T. J. has helped numerous clients enhance their service and training programs and spoken to tens of thousands of managers, franchisees and operators in various fields. Visit http://IncentivizeSolutions.com/ for more info motivating today's employees, training today's generation and delivering outstanding guest service; or http://podTraining.us/ , a unique new system and the foundation of ‘i-learning’ - using the device of today's generation, the iPod - to train your workforce.


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