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An Informed Staff Enhances the Guest Experience – By John Hendrie

We certainly expect more that ‘Hi guys, my name is Stormee (with two E’s), and I will be your server tonight’. Or, ‘check-out is at noon. No exceptions’. And, ‘Not my job’. We all know the drill and the disappointment when we are not engaged and could be by the staff at our chosen Hospitality business

We certainly expect more that “Hi guys, my name is Stormee (with two E’s), and I will be your server tonight”. Or, “check-out is at noon. No exceptions”. And, “Not my job”. We all know the drill and the disappointment when we are not engaged and could be by the staff at our chosen Hospitality business. A chance is missed to be memorable, even gracious and accommodating. We see this all too frequently. The opportunity is there to build a relationship, and then it becomes fleeting, illusory.

Our usual time to brief our staff is before the business opening or shift change. That session is always short and the communication succinct. “Sell the Lamb Kabobs”, “Guest in room 223 has been complaining every fifteen minutes”, watch for the overflow from Parlor A into the Landlubber Bar”, etc. We also may cover, again quickly, company announcements, a change in schedule or policy, even words of warning, like “The ABC has been checking for underage drinkers”, or “Turn in those Time Sheets”. Some companies just write in a log book or use Post-Its. We seldom use this time with everyone present to help our employees learn an edge to Guest Service, which typically results in an enhanced relationship with that Guest, an improved gratuity, certainly service, and return recommendations.

The Boston Globe on June 27, 2012 had a fascinating article on a restaurant which uses that pre-shift time and other allotted training time periods to achieve the objective where, “Urbanity is the Business Goal”. Entitled, “For Restaurant Staff, Culture is on the Menu”, The Eastern Standard Restaurant in Kenmore Square , Boston (one of my favorites, as full disclosure) does things differently. Of course at these staff meetings, they cover menu items, preparation, specialties, etc., as any other restaurant does, but they also emphasize the community, special interests, history, maybe throw in a little chemistry, guest speakers, culture and politics. For the servers and bartenders this expands their repertoire, where they can converse and share on a similar level to the guests they interact with. They know how to carry a conversation with comfort and expertise, serving a very sophisticated clientele. This becomes a differentiator. As Christopher Muller, Dean of the Boston University School of Hospitality Administration, noted about Eastern Standard’s owner, Garrett Harker, his “…teaching and motivating techniques are unusual enough that the atmosphere in Eastern Standard is different than most venues in its category. There’s nothing worse than a server who can’t talk to you, because they simply don’t know anything, they don’t have enough knowledge, literally, to speak well about anything not on the menu. It is the artful component of the restaurant business. And it isn’t easy, or else everyone would be doing it”.

Talk about distinction in the marketplace, really caught by Mr. Harker’s dedication to the “artful component” of his business. This goes beyond comfortable ambiance, superb entrees, impeccable service – someone I might have an intelligent conversation with, whether it be at a restaurant, hotel front desk, a retail store or the like. “Artful component” – I like it and seek it!

Posted by on June 28, 2012.

Categories: Features

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