Can you see the cows?

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In my latest blog article I talked about focus. To do so I laid out five simple touch points to give clear directions on how to better perform and deliver excellence.
 
The full article is published below but for memory here are the five touch points:
 
1. Think
2. Look at
3. See
4. Act
5. Look after
 
Since the publication of the focus article, I have delivered many training and coaching sessions to very varied audiences - from line staff to senior management.
 
While the message clearly made sense and was understood by most I sensed that a few people were struggling to really assimilate the true essence of what I was talking about.
 
By and large I believe in people, that they are genuine and given the chance will always try to do their best to succeed in whatever they are doing.
 
At times however there can be an unconscious disconnection between what people think (or think they think) and how they link and translate the dots together in real life. 
 
As a manager we double up as a coach and a trainer and it is up to us to read between the lines to understand accurately if, where and when the dots are not joined up. It is about reaching out, engaging and connecting with the very people we are teaching and coaching.

Basically it is a never ending quest to look for and find the switch inside their mind that will turn their thoughts and objectives into reality-i.e. an amazing customer experience.
 
The most common mistakes that unexperienced managers make is two-fold:

A: Failure to grasp the importance of attention to details in making a customer experience
B: Lack of discipline and rigor. A minute, relentless and persistent follow up is necessary to deliver the winning attention to details
 
However, when you speak to people about what it precisely takes to deliver great customer service you invariably and all too often get the same "woolly" generic statements and buzz words lifted from management manuals or quotes from famous industry names or other celebrities. Trouble is, there is no substance in these answers and so they mean nothing. What we need is clear examples and simple standards to follow and ensure staff perform and deliver to the highest levels at all times.
 
First people need to know what they are looking for so they can pro-actively act on what they see.
 
How do you get people to see and realise what they should actually do?
 
How do you make people responsible? How do you teach ownership?
 
How do you find the switch in people?



Fred Sirieix receives an Honorary MBA from the University of West London on the 14th March 2014

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Focus...

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What is focus?

A short sharp and to the point article about focus.

So let's focus on focus now.
 
Let me read the definition from the dictionary:
 
"The centre of interest or activity"
"An act of concentrating interest or activity on something"

Three words jump at me straight away-centre, activity and concentration.
 
So let's think about focus and how focus basically puts customer first:
 
1. Think

Think about putting customer first all the time. Think about what you need to do to achieve this. Think about your goal. i.e. concentrate on the activity in the centre.
 
2. Look at
Look at what there is to see, look in the right direction, look where others are not looking at i.e. what people do and how they interact with customers etc...
 
3. See
If you look at something then I would like to think that you will see what there is to see because it is in front of you. As a professional you should be thinking about what you are doing or what you have to do. i.e. staff work and perform well and in line with the vision and the values of the brand or not.
 
4. Act
Act on what you see and if needed rectify/show and tell how to get it done in order to meet the customers' expectations i.e. how to take an order or book a customer in etc...
 
5. Look after
By doing all 4 actions above you deliver the expectations of the customers. I say look after because it means that you genuinely care for them and take pride in what you do. When you serve people so well you effectively look after them.
 
Make Excellence a Habit!
 
Fred.


Formal or informal service?

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There are a lot of discussions going on at the moment about restaurant service. What is the trend? Where is it going? What do customers want?

The debate is mostly centered on formal and informal service. It seems the most passionate part of the argument is not whether the former will disappear but rather when it will finally vanish into oblivion.

First of all, I think it is important to put this debate in the current economical and social context. The wider issues on Europe and immigration are clearly playing a part and influencing as much directly and indirectly those with such a strong opinion on the subject.

So much so, in fact, that the service topic has been corrupted by pure sensationalism, mass generalization and stereotyping akin to those made by unscrupulous politicians hungry for votes in the run up to the elections.

The service debate is valid and very important except when it is flawed by poor and narrow judgment, hypocrisy or desperation. Informal service will not make a bad restaurant work, nor will formal service.

In the past a lot of restaurants were created by chefs who saw their dining room as a temple of worship for their glorious food where guests enjoyed the restaurants for what they were -  special occasion places. Everyone dressed up for them.

We need to live with our time and with the democratization of eating out - especially in the UK where the Hospitality Industry has grown so rapidly over the last few years.

Perhaps I should have started my article like this - Much Ado About Nothing is being made about service these days.

Personally, I think the issue is not about formal or informal service. The issue is about good and bad service.

I don't know about you but I have had very bad service in all these style of places:

• an award-winning top-of-the-league table-clothed restaurant
• a cool place where everyone is sporting a beard and a collection of tattoos on their arms
• a five-star luxury hotel
• a budget hotel
• a pizzeria
• a pub (gastro or not)

... and the list goes on and on and on...

Equally I have experienced good service (very good service in fact) in all of the above categories too.  

Restaurants are businesses and businesses only survive so long as they deliver something that people want, and do it well and with integrity.

Customers by and large want excellence. No matter what the service or product. Service and hospitality are universal.

There aren't any advanced levels in service. It's all about the basics. Good service is good service anywhere you are. Good service at Polpo Soho, The Ritz, a Pizzeria, my local pub, Galvin at Windows, Le Gavroche, El Pirata Mayfair, my favorite Indian take away (Spices) or Goodmans is the same as good service in a road side café.

The word service however means much more than just SERVICE. It's about hospitality, the connections and bonds that people create and share. Good service is good living and making people feel special. Good service is about a way of life. With service there is no grey, it is either black or white. Either customers are satisfied or they are not. And from my experience customers will only return if the performance is 9 or 10/10. Anything under (even an 8) and they will go somewhere else. Loyalty only exists as long as the performance is up to standards and expectations.

But I think we have missed the most essential point in this discussion so far: the people that deliver the service. How will we educate and teach them to deliver the service that customers really want? How can we attract and recruit them and make them feel valued and appreciated? How can we make them feel they are in a career that offers real advancement prospects?

This is the real question.

I feel it is both counter productive and useless to focus on formal or informal. Nature (in this case business) will take care of those who do not appeal. Trust me when I say it, the cull will be indiscriminate, it will include informal and formal places.

It is also unjust, sad and nasty to point the finger at those with thick accents who provide service when we go out. For if they were not there, we would most probably have to go to a very informal and soulless self-service place where we might have to also cook our own food.

Rather, we should work together and make the UK hospitality industry a great place to work in and the people within it proud to be waiters.

The below was sent to me by my good friend Erik Brown from Grayhawk consulting (he used to co-own and publish the excellent Mayfair Times). It just sums it up perfectly.

Domestic Service: An Inquiry by the Women's Industrial Council by CV Butler, 1916, includes this line (from a servant):

"Once a servant you are treated as belonging to quite an inferior race to all other workers."


The woman quoted wasn't only talking about the way she was perceived by her employers (which was bad enough), but - because she was the only servant in a middle-income household - by other servants.

What are you going to do about it?

National Waiters Day will take place on the 8th June 2014. Please go to www.nationalwaitersday.com

 

By Fred Sirieix






Faith, fear and trust

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Galvins's-chance_120.jpgOn Thursday the 23rd of January, I addressed the Galvin's Chance kids from this year's promotion at The Lansdowne Club in Mayfair.

I am always conscious of how boring and tedious speeches can be. I went straight to the point in less than five minutes.

I told them I wanted to talk about faith, fear and trust and proceeded to ask if they knew what faith meant. "Belief" one of them replied.

Exactly. That is what it means. You must understand that faith starts with self and so you must first have belief in yourself and the rest will come naturally as a result.

Mohamed Ali once said: "I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was."

Of course you need to have a vision too - you have to be clear about who you want to be and where you want to go.

Time for my second point: Fear.

We all fear. And I for one certainly feel fear. Only now I have accepted it as part of life. I am not ashamed of it anymore. It is natural and in all of us.

At times we can be all guilty of forgetting how scary life/work can be and how difficult it is to grow up and learn a trade - not knowing if you will ever make it. That is why it is important to remember what it feels like and to be able to put yourself back in the shoes of those who are starting out. 

Muhammad-Ali-Cassius_200.jpgIt is about sharing and giving back. Guiding, inspiring and teaching the new generation coming up.

Facing fear and working to understand it is the only way to accept and control it.

Boxing and fighting in a ring was for me a great way to learn about (and accept) fear for what it is in a controlled environment.

Alone in the corner. Tight stomach. Quick breathing. Sticky palms in my gloves. Fear. In a second the bell will go. Nowhere to hide.

What will happen? Will I lose, or worse will I shrivel and lay haplessly like a coward on the floor before a punch is even thrown?

Every time I am in the ring I feel the fear. The difference now is that I recognise it and so I can control it. I am not scared of the fear any more.

I fear because I am.

And so I start an internal dialogue without fail.

Relax. That is what you came for. Breath. Breath slowly. Relax and enjoy this. Stand your ground. Do what you do. Jab.

My third point : Trust.

Trust also starts with self (everything does).

Trust yourself because your actions speak louder than your words. Trust because you trained and prepared and left nothing to chance. You have listened, learned and assimilated the teachings deep inside you. You have done as much as you could. You are ready.

Hard work gives you the confidence, the will to fight fear and trust in yourself. So have faith, you are a champion and success is yours.

Make excellence a habit.

Fred.


The Art of Service 2013 awards

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The Art of Service 2013 awards are about the people I follow and who inspire me, the places I like, the experiences I have had the chance and pleasure to enjoy and those individuals and businesses who impress me the most for their creativity, consistency, quality and success.


Newcomer of the year Ape & Bird

Beer of the year Moor beer

Restaurant of the year El Pirata Mayfair

Restaurant Manager of the year Michele Caggianese (Rib Room)

FOH/business man of the year David Strauss (Goodman/Burger and Lobster)

Waitress of the year Sabrina Cano (Jose-Bermondsey)

Rising star of the year Tommy Ryan (The Chancery)

Woman of the year Anne Pierce MBE (Springboard)

Industry ambassador of the year Michel Roux Jnr

Opening party of the year Steam and Rye

Personality of the year Oisin Rogers

Barman of the year Salvatore Calabrese

Group of the year Byron

Make excellence a habit!
Fred


A management lesson

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I was recently asked by a journalist who or what inspires me.
 
My reflex, immediate and natural answer was to reply that I get inspired by life and everything all the time. Sports, current affairs, politics, military campaigns, the Romans etc... my loving parents, my beautiful partner Alex, the ever young and fun Chris Galvin and my amazing Chairman Ken Sanker.
 
Like everyone around the world recently I was very touched and inspired by the life, message and passing of Nelson Mandela. For many people he is as close as one can get to a Saint. Mandela was a sinner by his own admission, nonetheless he was a holy man who articulated and embodied the true meaning of forgiveness by his very actions.
 



Problem vs Outcome

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Today I want to share with you a different kind of article and one which I hope will help you think differently about problems and the outcome you are looking for.

By and large many people unconsciously and automatically think and react in the same way when faced with various problems.

This is all because of the default dysfunctional mode our brains revert back to and are programmed to adopt.

We tend to focus too much on the wrong thing (ie the problems) and to blame others or ourselves endlessly for our failure(s).

In the end no solution is ever found in this way, which in turn makes us feel even worse and more inadequate as a result.

We need to change this. We need to rewire our brains and the software inside it.

Please do this exercise with me. Think of a small problem you would like to solve and put it though the Problem Frame below. 

Problem Frame

What is your problem? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


How long have you had it? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Whose fault is it?
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Who is to blame?

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Why haven't you solved it yet?
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


How do you feel now? What have you achieved?

Probably not much....

Now try this instead. Think of the outcome you want in relation to this problem and put it through the Outcome Frame below in the same way that you did before.

Outcome Frame

What do you want?
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


How will you know when you have got it?
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


What resources do you already have which can help you achieve this outcome?
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


What is something similar, which you did succeed in doing?
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


What is the next step?
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


How do you feel?

It feels much better, doesn't it?

And you not only know what outcome you want in the end but THAT VERY first step you need to take to make the change happen.

Although you may not be totally and officially rewired, at least you now have a tool you can use to help you get what you really want.

Make Excellence a Habit.

Fred.



The Trustometer

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The TrustoMeter

Trust is the basis of love.

And love is what we all crave.

If there is no trust there is nothing...

In business, in restaurants trust is what it is all about.

When guests trust you, they come back and tell their friends about you.

Trust in your colleagues is what makes a unit.

Trust is what makes us special, unique and stand out from the crowd.

Fundamentally we all want to be trusted and we think we are all trustworthy.

But are we?

TRUST! A BIG word defined by small actions.

TRUST! A BIG word defined by the true level of your ownership.

Let's be honest now (for without honesty there can't be trust).

Look at yourself in the mirror and rate your trust level on the Trustometer.

Award yourself a point for each time you did what you promised to do.

Take off a point for each time you failed to do what you promised.

What is your score?

Whenever I work with someone new I always give them the benefit of the doubt and I trust them.

I trust them and my standards are those of my Dad who is the most honest and professional person I have ever met.

He scores 100 on the Trustometer.

Whenever I ask him for something, he looks back into my eyes and tells me if and when he can do it for.

Then he does it.

And that is TRUST.

Make Excellence a Habit.

Fred.


The customer service conveyor belt

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The difficulty with customer service (and ultimately customer satisfaction) is how subjective service and its delivery can be.  It is always the small things (the devil is the details) that make a difference as well as a positive and long lasting impression on customers. Therefore making the right first impression is not only vital, it is essential a constant and continuous high level first impression is delivered at each touch points of the customer journey.

Unfortunately in some restaurants (as in many other industries), service or the standards of service are all too often not taken seriously enough.

• Organisations do not have a vision and clear values (or one that they live by)
• Customer journey does not get mapped out in details
• Staff do not get trained
• Standards and performance do not get monitored nor measured

No matter the original level of success or company ambitions a culture of mediocrity will inevitably develop and set in time. High performance and a subsequent 9/10 out of 10 rating in customer satisfaction can then only exist sporadically or within "pockets of resistance" in these organisations or departments.

In life as in "Service" everything starts with self and this is what The Golden Rule of Service number 8 is about-Treat others the way you would want to be treated.

99.9% of people would agree with this rule. Still bad service as a result of a poor performance (whether individual or collective) happen all too often because of a lack of ownership and KNOW HOW TO.

Customer Service for me is like the conveyor belt of a car factory.

Car manufacturers produce cars all over the world in different factories. No matter where they are made each model from a particular car brand are all exactly the same and wherever the dealership they are bought in.

At each car brand factory the raw materials/products get processed at the beginning of the conveyor belt and in the end every cars are built alike because each touch points of the assembly line have been mapped out in a systematic and logical order and follow a rigorous standard process involving regular quality checks.

Customer Service (in any sector or industry) is just similar.

At one end of the service conveyor belt, the raw product/material starts to be processed (ie the customer) with the objective to produce at the other end-a happy and 100% satisfied customer.

The only difference with a car factory is that in customer service we are dealing with humans (not machines) so there are 2 sides to work on simultaneously on the conveyor belt to ensure both customer satisfaction and the financial/commercial business success.

• The service/technical side of service. Each and every customer touch points
• The hospitality/how you make people feel side of service

The customer service conveyor belt concept is simple and very effective. It does require a little effort in the first instance however to map out each customer touch points as well as decide and agree the related high standards.

Action is always eloquence and the results speak for themselves. So do not wait any longer-map out your customer journey, get on the customer service conveyor belt and make excellence a habit!

Fred.

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