You must leave hospitality in the hospitality business. Without hospitality, there will be no business.
Do you recognize this tune, “sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came” from the sitcom Cheers? I used to enjoy watching this show. One of the main characters would walk into the door of Cheers and everyone would yell his name, “Norm!”
Cheers was more than just a bar. Even though it was just a television show, it represented the need we all have, the need to belong somewhere, and when that need is met we will keep coming back.
I have worked in the hospitality industry long enough to know the importance of customer loyalty. This loyalty works both ways, your loyalty to the customer in the form of great customer service and their loyalty to keep returning to your establishment, especially when there is so much competition vying for their patronage.
Yes people are not dining out as often as they used to and they are pulling their purse strings a little tighter, but it is still possible to maintain a respectable income even in today’s economy.
So here are some steps you can take to increase your customer sales, tips, and repeat business.
1. It’s all about them: That’s right, it is about pleasing them. We all have our share of problems, but your customer does not want to hear about yours. When that person chooses to sit at your table, or your bar, they have an expectation. It is kind of like a mini-vacation. They want to relax, let their hair down, and walk away not feeling like they just wasted their evening and their money.
2. Presentation: It starts with the eyes. Does the plate you are about to place before them look appetizing or does it look like something the cook just threw on the plate? I cannot say enough about garnishes. Make it look like it was prepared with the customer in mind. This is especially true with drinks. An orange or lemon wedge, a mint sprig, whip cream, these give your drinks your signature. This helps justify why they are spending money for this drink instead of staying home and making it themselves. Remember to show them that you are the expert. Wow them with your artwork in food and drink presentation.
3. Professionalism: Remember those boundaries. You can be friendly without being too familiar. Ladies do not want to go anywhere with their men when they are competing with the bartenders cleavage. Men want to feel respected and appreciated. It is about paying your bills, not picking up a date. Watch what you say and when you say it, the English language has many descriptive words, avoid slang and offensive language.
4. Create the atmosphere: Most people want to feel a part of something. Acknowledge your customer as soon as they arrive. I am not suggesting stalking them and overshadowing them, but be quick to let them know you have seen them and you are glad they are there. Once they are there, you want them to stay, and just as importantly, come back. Hospitality is key. As a bartender you play many roles. You are a listener; for some reason customers have a drink, loosen up and they want to talk, so guess what, tag! Your it. There are times when you are busy and you can not devote all of your time to one customer, so introduce them to one another, engage them, this takes the pressure off of yourself. You also have to be a quick read, not all customers want to talk, respect that, be the silent ninja and provide non-invasive good service.
5. What goes on in the kitchen, stays in the kitchen: OK, so your boss is A tyrant and the other employees are less than average intelligent, keep it to yourself. Do not engage your customers in the dirt. Not only is it unprofessional, it puts your customer in an awkward position. Refer to rule number one.
This is not an exhaustive list of how to thrive in the hospitality industry in today’s economy with great customer service, but if you start with these basics, I bet you will do well in whatever position you hold.