Restaurant Owners - How Important are People Skills?

Kelvyn Peters

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You are serving great food. Your establishment is new, spotless and inviting and yet you are not getting the repeat visits that you expect. What’s up? What’s going wrong?

The answer may lie with your people skills…

Why do people come to your restaurant? By now you should know why people frequent your restaurant…or at least you should know why they don’t.

They do not come for cheap food. It’s cheaper at home and there is certain to be cheaper restaurants than yours.

They certainly come to eat different foods that they cannot make at home but there are plenty of similar restaurants to yours.

So you will have worked out your “unique selling benefit” and you will have marketed that. They don’t come back and you have to discover what it is that is not providing the benefit that they were expecting.

Often the answer is with your people. Customers come for the total experience. It will not matter whether the food is excellent and the coffee outstanding if the waiting staff is unfriendly and distant. Their evening will have been ruined and they will not come back again.

When you employ front-of-house employees their technical skills are not as important as their attitude.

You can teach a person the technical skills but it is almost impossible to teach them to change their attitudes. If your applicant finds it difficult to smile during her interview then she is certain to be an unsmiling distant waitress. She is not for you.

A warm and friendly applicant with little experience is by far the better prospect.

What about your own people skills? In our consulting we quite often see managers whose dealing with patrons is excellent but with staff and others atrocious.

Never give your staff a ‘dressing down’ in front of customers. It makes customers uncomfortable at best and downright angry if they have established a rapport with the staff member.

Your attitude toward staff should be one that leads them to better service and higher morale.

Will they ever need strong criticism? They sure will…but keep it between yourselves.

About the Author

Kelvyn Peters CPA is one of the longest serving Australian Tax Agents. He registered as tax agent in 1962 and was accepted as a CPA in 1964.

He has become much sought after as an educator and speaker on small business. One organisation says that the highlight of the annual meeting is Kelvyn's ability to present the audited statements in a humorous way.

Kelvyn is famous for his ability to rescue ailing small businesses.


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