The Last Table is as Important as the First
The Last Table is as Important as the FirstTweet
I've talked with many people in different industries, and it seems true for all-- if you sell lighting you notice lights everywhere you go— if you are a chef you are constantly critiquing food that others cook and so on. I was talking with a woman about this who has managed Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants as well as small niche hot spots about whether or not she's able to enjoy eating out. The woman laughed when I asked her this and admitted that it's very difficult for her to “let go” while eating out at a location that she doesn't manage.
She shared a story with me that I think is a good reminder for us, not only as trainers but as people who earn our living in the service industry. After getting off work, she wanted a change of pace and so took her husband and three children to a family chain restaurant outside of her group. They were seated immediately and the server brought out water and menus right away. So far, so good.
She reviewed the menu, chose appetizers, and waited. Her server was talking to three other servers about their plans later that night. Having been a server herself for years, she didn't want to flag down her server or do some of the other things that annoyed her while working. So, she waited. And waited. After 15 minutes, her husband got up and went over to the server asking her to take their order.
Appetizers and beers were ordered, and 10 minutes later, the appetizers were brought to the table by the busser. Another 10 minutes went by. No beer, no main entree order taken. Cue squirmy kids and frustrated mom. The server sits down at a table near them and begins doing her side work. More time goes by. Finally, exasperated, the woman waves at the server and motions her to come over. Instead of getting up, the server shouts, “What do you want? I gotta finish my side work in order to get out of here.”
Despite all of this, the woman and her family manage to order, finish their meal and even leave a 15% tip. The woman told me that she believes anyone can have an off day, and she wasn't going to punish the server for a bad day— however she would never go back to that restaurant again.
What's the lesson in all of this? That the impression we leave on our guests and clients is only as good as their last experience with us. Whether it's the host, the chef, the valet, or the server, all the people who interact with the customer shape the overall experience. The food can be transcendent, but at the end of the day your customers are paying for service, and most people recall a bad experience long after the memory of a great meal has faded.
What kind of service is your staff giving? How do you know? Find out what Waitrainer can do for your restaurant here.
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