People Really Do Make the Difference

 In 3. Linda Peters-Getchell, Of Interest, Operations

Authored by Linda Peters-Getchell

Customer Service has always been in my mind a huge issue. I firmly believe in most cases people can overlook errors in service if the caring and personalized customer service shines.

A couple of days ago I received a weekly newsletter from Jon Gordon, one of my favorite speakers and authors. He and his family had just returned from a little vacation time in Maine. While there he jotted down five ideas and thoughts he had about business. The following was the fifth one that spoke to me loud and clear.

“5. People, Not Views, Make the Difference – We stayed at a hotel in Kennebunkport for a few days. It was a wonderful hotel that had an amazing view of the ocean. Unfortunately we only encountered several people on the staff who shared positive energy. We loved the hotel but didn’t leave there with a great feeling. We thought about how much better the experience could have been if the staff were trained to be as nice as the view. Hotels need to focus as much on their people as they do their beauty and landscaping. People make the difference.”
Jon Gordon

Our restaurants are no different than that hotel in Kennebunkport, our ambiance, our view, our food is only as good as our people. Just name me a restaurant you want to return to where you were treated poorly, not even poorly, just not well.

I can’t, how about you? Yet I can name restaurants where there might be a shortcoming of sorts but there is such outstanding service I go back again and again and request a specific server because that individual makes a meal an experience.

Recently a friend and I were out exploring restaurants for David’s Champion Group to go for dinner. We had not been there before and visited for lunch.

We were warmly greeted, seated and the real experience began as up walked Tracy, our server! The restaurant was lovely, the food was very good, Tracy put the added a touch of magic, transforming a weekday lunch into a dining experience.

When Tracy inquired if we had been there before and found out we had not, she was quick to tell us about the menu and some unusual things about it, bringing it to life and making it more interesting. She was quick to offer suggestions when asked with descriptions that make you want it all. She smiled, made eye contact, kept a check on us and how we were enjoying everything.

At the end of the meal I began to ask her a few questions about accommodating a group and she quickly smiled and told us that they had private event rooms, please when we were ready she would show them to us.

She took us on a tour of the restaurant including the private rooms and suggested that if we had the time we could return to our table and she would get the banquet manager. Before she took off we asked if we brought the group there if she might wait on them, and they would order from the menu and want individual checks.

She quickly responded that large groups are usually not given individual checks having something to do with their computer system and the kitchen, but if the manager would do it, she would be happy to wait on the group and do individual checks.

We did just that and momentarily the banquet manager arrives. She agreed to ordering from the menu and making the exception for individual checks and arranging for Tracy to wait on the group.

Well, the group had dinner there and I was anxious to hear how it went. David said it was fine, the food was good, not exceptional, but the server they had was remarkable. She was the talk of the evening — everyone would like to steal her for their restaurants.

I quickly asked her name, was it Tracy by any chance. It was. I had not told him that I had requested her in case something happened that she was unable to work the night they were coming. (She had told me the only thing to prevent her from working would be if her sister went into labor. It was a first baby and she was going to be there when it happened.)

My friend and I have been back since for lunch and had a different server. Our lunch was good, the room was still lovely, but it was not a memorable experience – it was lunch.

People Really Do Make the Difference! How about the people in your restaurant, do they make the difference? Do they know how to make a difference? Might you teach them how to make a difference?

Linda Peters-Getchell has 20 years in restaurant management and food and beverage customer service. She has owned her own restaurant and catering service, developed unique training programs and won two Key Player Awards for her customer service programs at Showboat Casino Hotel. She is currently a powerful creative force for restaurant expert David Scott Peters and his company, Smile Button Enterprises, serving as Fairy Godmother.

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