The restaurant business and the hospitality industry in general is a tough arena in which to compete. Razor thin margins, long hours, and extreme stress & pressure make owning a restaurant a nightmarish proposition, if not for the drive and passion of chefs, restaurant owners, managers, and workers. We need every edge we can muster to compete in this challenging business.
So as the leader of a restaurant consulting group Greybar Solutions that helps struggling owners, I often ask myself, “If I could summarize ultimate hospitality for restaurant owners as briefly and simply as possible, what would it look like?” I’d want it to be something that applies not only to fine dining restaurants, but to casual dining and quick service as well. In fact, it should have application in almost any customer service environment. I think I’ve narrowed it down to a total of six words.
In my experience, ultimate hospitality really comes down to three things:
- Anticipate Needs. Listening to your guests is great, and ensures your service will hopefully be at least satisfactory. But more often than not, what your guests leave unsaid is as important or more important than what they directly express. Businesses or brands who deliver ultimate hospitality will always stand out because they anticipate unexpressed needs or wishes. Nowhere is this concept brought to life more substantially than at The Ritz-Carlton. If you work in hospitality, an absolute must-read is Joseph Michelli’s book The New Gold Standard https://www.amazon.com/New-Gold-Standard-Leadership-Ritz-Carlton/dp/0071548335 in which he breaks down the ethos behind the creation of the Ritz-Carlton customer experience.
- Exceed Expectations. Exceeding expectations is a means by which we can escalate the perception of value and deliver a “wow.” To exceed expectations means that you understand that expected performance is actually mediocrity http://www.businessknowhow.com/marketing/exceedexpectations.htm . And mediocrity isn’t memorable. Exceeding expectations for a guest, especially when unexpected, is something that creates a pleasant surprise, and pleasant surprises are memorable. Pleasant memories tied to your business lead to greater guest loyalty. But remember: today’s delight becomes tomorrow’s expectation.
- Connect Emotionally. Customers who are “emotionally connected” to a product or service buy more, are more profitable and are more loyal than customers who are “highly satisfied”, according to Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2015/12/what-separates-the-best-customers-from-the-merely-satisfied . But what does that mean? Defining an emotional connection can be difficult, as it is largely an unconscious feeling. Eliciting emotional engagement from your guests will vary depending on your specific business, but being responsive, being authentic, building on shared experiences, and showing personality are all important aspects of establishing an emotional connection.
Bringing it all together: The important takeaway here is that these key actions that drive ultimate hospitality won’t happen unless you and your team are actively and enthusiastically working on them every day. You must always be looking for opportunities to anticipate needs, exceed expectations, and connect emotionally.
Story by Jesiah Mauck