Growth Strategies: Restaurants Could Serve A Winner

Restaurants serve many people every single day and every single customer represents an opportunity to get free value enhancing growth strategies for their business.  My family dines out several times a week. Someone in the food service industry must have said that the best way to never get complaints or good ideas from your customers is to not want any complaints or good ideas.

We have eaten out five times this week. Five times in five different restaurants, the server would breeze by with a big smile and lots of enthusiasm and ask some variation of “Is Your Meal Wonderful?” This of course happens as they are running past our table, indicating they weren’t about to stop for an answer. The manager has ordered them to ask the question but hasn’t instructed them on what to do if someone should be so rude as to give them an answer.  All they really want to see is our heads bobbing up and down in agreement. Managers would argue that this technique is in an effort to make the customer feel they care even if they don’t.

So how are you missing a chance to grow your business and fatten your profit line? While not everyone is going to give you gold nuggets of information, I know that if someone, server or manager, came by the table toward the end of my meal, and asked me sincerely what they could do to improve our experience at that restaurant, I would take time to give an answer that just might be worth thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars. I might even ask for an email address so I could think about the answer and get back.

And all that for free from someone who gives advice for a living. If there is an egregious error, it might just come out. No fee required. But you will never get the golden nugget answer the way you are asking me now, because it would be wasted on you. All it takes is one or two people like me to give you a thoughtful response to a sincere request for ways to improve your products and services, and boom, you have it – money in your pocket.

One restaurant manager did not know that the rolls were being kept in the warmer too long and were served too hard. A little change in their process that cost no money at all, had the rolls warm, soft, and just the way you would like a good fresh dinner roll to be served. It changed the impression of the entire meal as well as the experience.

In the recent Forbes Magazine, Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard, is described as an executive who solicits feedback with no sugar coating. Show me a restaurant, or any organization, that is serious about getting honest feedback and then acting on that feedback, and I will show you an organization that will be around for a long time enjoying the highest profits in their industry. You need the bare, no sugar answer to the question, “How was your meal/service/experience?”

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Posted by Dr. Sarah Layton in Growth, Organizational Strategy and tagged , , on June 18, 2013.

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