Does your staff really know and understand what you are talking about? If the company directive is to improve speed, does the staff understand doesn't that mean sacrifice quality? Often times as leaders, we know what we mean, but the managers and staff might have a very different idea. Did you know the word ‘set’ has over 460 different definitions?
While attending a CHART conference last year, guest speaker Shep Hyken had the group write down nine words they associated with the word ‘run. ’ He then had us compare lists with one other person. A simple word we all know, but the majority of the group matched either none or one word with the other person. The point of the exercise? Be specific with direction and guidance.
For example, when the direction is ‘greet the guest, ’ the staff could interpret that as:
- “For here or to-go?”
- “Next. ”
- “Can I take your order?”
- “Delivery or carry-out?”
While it might appear to many that these phrases are ‘greetings, ’ they aren't the ones you want your people using—not if you're trying to enhance service, anyway. The staff, however, hears these at many of the competitors and believes this is the way to properly greet the guest. Similar scenarios happen for suggestive selling (“Anything else?, ” “You don't want to upsize that, do you?, ” “Is that all?”), delivering the food (“Here's your food, ” “#54, ” “Burger with fries. ”), and thanking the guest (“Next, ” “Wait over there, ” and “…” silence).
As leaders you must think globally and focus on the 10,000-feet view of operations—the higher up the corporate hierarchy, the bigger the picture and focus. Don't forget, however about acting locally. Provide the global direction (enhance service, increase speed, lower costs) and follow up with local specifics so the front-line staff executing the direction understands specifically how it does be done.
When trying to build speed, it is simple to put a timer facing the guest (either on the POS terminal, drive-thru) or have a delivery guarantee to create a sense of urgency in the employees. If the employees hear “Deliver food faster, ” they can certainly hit that goal, but if they don't also understand the food has to look great, follow the recipe, and meet the quality standard, you fixed one problem but created another (one probably even more damaging to the guest).
Putting a guarantee message on the register (“If we forget to suggest to up-size your value meal, you receive it free”) will certainly ensure the cashier or drive-thru attendant suggests items, but if they are saying the following, it doesn't enhance service, it just appears we are trying to push things on the guest:
- “Would you like to upsize your meal?”
- “You don't want to upsize your meal, do you?”
- “We have to mention the upsize, or it's yours free, so do you want it upsized?”
As mentioned in previous columns, more effective sales lines are:
- “We feature two [or three] sizes of value meals, which would you prefer?”
- “You can have the meal with fries and a drink or a side salad and a drink, which would you like?”
- “We have the large size meal for $5.49 or you can save 49 cents and get the regular size meal—which would you like to order?”
The local specifics need to be given. Don't create robots—provide multiple options so your frontline employees aren't spouting mechanical, scripted sayings. Many of your staff members have personality—let it shine! Provide guidelines and boundaries similar to teachers who are in charge of the playground at elementary schools. Certain rules can't be broken, but as long as they stay within the parameters, they can have fun!
Sound simple and logical? Sure. But is it commonly practiced? Think about tying your shoes. A very easy task we have done tens of thousands of times in our lives. But those with children know how hard is it to train someone how to tie their shoes. Quite a daunting task. Additionally, people learned differently as children so one parent might show them one way they learned and the other parent another—another example of two right ways to achieve the same goal. The result? A confused child. If all else fails, buy the shoes with Velcro.
Same holds true in restaurants. Manager A directs the employee to do a process one way while Manager B directs the employee to do the process another way. If both ways are “right” (i. e. acceptable), let the employee use the method they prefer as long as the desired result is achieved. Think globally, but act locally—your employees and guests will appreciate it.
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.