In our previous articles pt.1 and pt.2, we spoke on hiring the right staff members and how to implement the right systems and processes to get the most out of your FOH team. In this we’ll discuss how to communicate these expectations to your team, and how to assess whether they are continuously executed by every staff member each day.
Presenting the framework for success to your team
Once a restaurant has their service standards and steps of service in place, the next step is to present both to their team. Many restaurants create a service manual that contains all of the relevant materials. This is a good way to provide everything in one comprehensive guide, but it can be a bit daunting. Many service manuals are dozens of pages, and not every restaurant worker is a verbal learner. In fact, a large percentage of restaurant employees are visual or kinesthetic learners.
That’s why some technology-enabled platforms have emerged. ExpandShare is one, which creates customized digital training programs for restaurants. It uses short videos and mini quizzes to help restaurant staff learn everything they need to know. It is also one of the few platforms that incorporates refresher training, so the important details don’t get lost over time.
After establishing expectations and communicating them through a training program, it’s now time to set up processes to monitor the execution of the standards and steps of service. Knowing what to do is one thing, but actually executing it is another.
Monitoring the success of service standards and steps of service
To monitor the success of the standards and steps of service, managers should spend a large chunk of their time on the floor observing their team. They should ask themselves key questions while observing, such as: Are team members working collaboratively? Are guests being treated properly? Is each course timed appropriately?
But, even the best managers can only see so much at one time. They’re also limited in what they can see from a distance. That’s why it’s important to get feedback from guests. Managers should try to touch every table to see how everything is going. But, as you know, many guests feel uncomfortable sharing feedback face-to-face in public. Customers will often say everything is great, even when something is bothering them. That’s why it’s important for operators to monitor online reviews and other digital feedback platforms, where customers typically feel more comfortable sharing their honest opinions.
Unfortunately, the challenge with online reviews is they typically lack structure and don’t address the points that are most important to the restaurant. For example, a customer may complain in a 500-word review that they hated the food, but fail to mention anything about the service. Although this is great feedback for the BOH team, the customer did not address the entire experience, such as the service and atmosphere.
To combat this, restaurants of all shapes and sizes use secret shopping or mystery dining. A secret shopper tells a restaurant whether their staff are following the service manual and training program. You can think of mystery shopping as an unbiased audit of the guest experience.
At Servy, for example, we’ll first create a customized set of evaluation questions that are mapped directly to the restaurant’s service standards and steps of service. We’ll then feature the restaurant on our app to our exclusive community of mystery diners who will go to the restaurant, pretending to be a normal customer, but will secretly evaluate every aspect of the experience.
Within 48 hours of the experience, the restaurant will have a report outlining what their team did well and what their team didn’t do well. For example, a Servy report will tell the restaurant whether the server greeted the guests within 60 seconds, or whether the server offered coffee or dessert at the end of the meal.
Mystery dining helps management continuously assess performance in an objective efficient way. The results are quantified and tied back to specific team members to fuel both coaching sessions and congratulatory praises. Secret shopping uncovers both the good and bad, and it’s important for management to handle both effectively.
In summary, creating a great guest experience starts with building a strong team and setting standards to guide that team. However, it’s not enough to just set the standards; restaurants need to take the time to train their staff and make sure that their team understands how to execute the standards on a daily basis. Finally, it’s important for operators to continuously monitor performance through guest feedback and mystery shopping.
Robert Edell is the CEO and Co-Founder of Servy, a next generation mystery dining and customer intelligence platform for the restaurant industry. Servy’s community of frequent diners and hospitality professionals use the Servy app to complete private, customized evaluations that help operators measure performance and increase sales and guest satisfaction.