It’s about more than food
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
~ Dr. Maya Angelou
Dr. Angelou’s quote hits the nail on the head when it comes to exceeding the expectations of our guests in today’s competitive market. Before, having good food was considered the exception, the deal breaker over your competition. That has changed to becoming the minimum entry level standard for new businesses. The new deal breaker is creating a memorable experience.
The expectations of our guests have changed substantially, and our industry has responded with a new take on our daily contacts with them. We have shifted from training for “service” to coaching for “the guest experience”. Service is a series of steps, the ritual of pizza (dine-in, pick-up or delivery). Hospitality is what people feel. It’s the emotional experience of the food, the service and the overall sense of feeling welcomed and appreciated. And that’s captured in the end of Dr. Angelou’s quote: “… people will never forget how you made them feel.” It’s what locks your brand into their future decisions to do business with you instead of your competitors.
How do you impart that concept to your staff? Training is the action of teaching a person a skill or type of behavior. Coaching is to prompt or urge with instructions. Where we often fail in this regard is once a team member has completed the formal new-hire training, there is little, or zero, continuing training/coaching provided to maintain/sustain the high standards of your brand.
To draw from a leader in foodservice, take this quote from Anthony Bourdain, who we tragically lost this year: “You can always tell when a person has worked in a restaurant. There’s an empathy that can only be cultivated by those who’ve stood between a hungry mouth and a $28 pork chop (aka pizza), a special understanding of the way a bunch of motley misfits can be a family. Service industry work develops the ‘soft skills’ recruiters talk about on LinkedIn — discipline, promptness, the ability to absorb criticism, and most important, how to read people like a book. The work is thankless and fun and messy, and the world would be a kinder place if more people tried it. With all due respect to my former professors, I’ve long believed I gained more knowledge in kitchens, bars and dining rooms than any college could even hold.”
Chef Bourdain’s message above is a great point to start/resume the discussion with your team on how/why to constantly be aware of the guest experience at each contact moment with each staff member. From a call-in order to the greeting as a to-go pick up or dine-in guest, it is critical that you make your guests (and staff) feel welcomed and appreciated.