Build systems to build relationships even when you’re not there

 In 5. Fred Langley, Operations

By Fred Langley

As you take the systems you learn here at the Button and implement them, you are going to find that you have more time. You will also find and that you have taken responsibilities that were always yours and given them to others.

As the owner of your restaurant, hospitality is a top priority for your guests and you go through great lengths to insure this is always the case.

Well, what happens when you are not there and how do you insure that every guest is getting that special attention that sets you apart from the cold, impersonal chains?

The first thing is to train your staff to ask questions. They should be asking each customer if they have been to your restaurant before and point out recent changes if they have been in before. They tell new and returning customers about the menu and philosophy if they haven’t been in before.

Explain to your staff the lifetime value of a guest and provide them with business cards so they can personally invite guests back to specifically sit in their section. Have a contest to see who can get the most requests from guests coming back specifically to dine with a particular server. This gives your staff ownership and that comes across to the guests. It also has a bigger impact on the bottom line, even more than highly effective up selling.

Make an active effort to learn something new about every guest who dines with you and give servers informational cards at the beginning of night with as much information as possible about a guest that you have collected over previous times they have dined with you. I use the computer system Open Table to do this. Make it the servers’ job to add at least one more bit of information to their notes, like what wine they like and what table they prefer, anything to help build relationships.

If you don’t have a computer to help you, find out the information anyway because even if you don’t remember, the guest will remember that you truly care about them.

Fred Langley is the executive chef and owner of two restaurants in Windsor, Calif., in the heart of the Sonoma County wine country. Langley’s on the Green, a fine dining establishment, and Pizzeria DePaoli, a family style Italian restaurant, are living, breathing examples of how essential systems can be to a successful restaurant. He is a part of restaurant expert David Scott Peters’, coaching team and his unique restaurant setup, family involvement and high standards make him an incredible asset and coach.

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