November 2011 Archives

The Art of Saying Thank You-like you (really) mean it

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Thank you.

It sounds so simple and so basic. So easy in fact that some would say its child's play.

Yet it is so difficult to get right and over my career I have spent so much time teaching people how to say thank you and be grateful to guests. The barriers come from the diversity of our workforce, the language gap, the different cultures and education systems our staffs come from and of course the attitude of each individual.

Regularly I hold special training sessions to teach how to say Thank You-like you (really) mean it and deliver a bill promptly to a guest when asked. In the role play sessions we look at the simple stuff that makes all the difference:

  •  Eye contact

  •  Smile and nod

  • Use simple winning words like certainly or straight away

  • Look and smile at other people on the table as well

  • Prompt delivery of the "right" bill (no mistakes allowed)

  • Prompt collection of the bill to process the payment

  • Final smile and Thank You-like you (really) mean it (as my 7 years old daughter would say-For real life Papa!)

It was not this difficult, was it?

The last piece of the jigsaw

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There is so much more interest and motivation nowadays both from companies and individuals to finally give to the service industry/front of house its rightful recognition and importance.

The drive to inspire people to give better service and be more hospitable goes beyond the Hospitality Industry and service is (at long last) now being promoted as a rewarding and satisfying career. Indeed, one needs skills and very high professional standards to do the job.

For many (many) companies, good service is more than just the cherry on the cake. It is "THE SERVICE" that gives the edge and the necessary key competitive advantage to exceed guest's expectations, create the brand reputation and drive the profits up.

Although service is an inherent part of our industry it seems that WE have been quite slow to drive the changes through. I see this as the last piece of the Jigsaw to make the guest's experience finally wholesome (ie food, design, atmosphere and service/hospitality).

On that note , last week was particularly exciting for me.

From Tuesday I was in Berlin at the Hilton Worldwide (@HiltonWorldwide) very first European F&B competition called #FBmasters. The competition involved the best team members of Hilton Europe in 4 different categories: cooking, pastry, BAR and SERVICE. The service competitors were assessed on their skills, ability, attitude, knowledge and overall performance by playing a full game of The Art of Service followed by a mock service and a written test.  

Upon my return to London I was invited to be a speaker at the annual conference of one of the UK's biggest and most luxurious house builder. They wanted me to speak about service and hospitality, they wanted to learn about our industry and relate it to theirs. I told them simple things. Things like: The guest is King, the difference between customers and guests, the difference between service and looking after people and the meaning of always putting ourselves in the guest's shoes.

Finally on Friday night, I was at the Hotel Cateys to support Andrew Sicklin (@asicklin) from Galvin at Windows (@galvinatwindows). He had been nominated as Manager of the Year. He did not win but he was up there nonetheless. Well done Andrew.

During the course of the evening I had a short, fun and exciting conversation with Giovanna from the AA. Amongst other things she told me that she was brainstorming with her team and working on a SERVICE/Front of House awards as a result of my tweet (after the last AA awards, I tweeted that a Service award was missing from the AA awards portfolio).

By all accounts, it seems we are now doing the right thing and going in the right direction.

Let's just be totally uncompromising with our vision.

That is the only way to drive the standards up and Make Excellence a Habit.


Excellence is not spelled I.M.P.O.S.S.I.B.L.E

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Excellence is all about "can do", "will do", "will try harder", saying "yes" and other times "NO"!

Thriving for excellence is thriving to be a champion. One does not become a champion overnight. It requires relentless hard work, discipline, persistence, beliefs and a clear vision.

For some it is about sacrifice. For the champion however it is simply part of what one does or needs to do. There is only way to be a champion or be excellent and shortcuts don't exist!
To get there sports champions condition gradually both their body and their mind. The same principles apply in the Hospitality Industry.

Only it's harder for us.

We don't have only ourselves to inspire, motivate and train but whole teams of people from various backgrounds, education systems, nationalities and experience levels. Each individual in the team must be a champion if the team is to be a champion too.

Excellence is not an act but a habit, as such IT never ends! And THIS is the challenge.

Enjoy what you do! .... And make excellence a habit!

Are we ready for 2012?

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2011 is coming to a close and everyone in the industry is now getting ready for the mad Christmas rush.

But are we ready for 2012 and what's to come? rexfeatures_1389794z.jpg

Most people I have spoken to recently believe doom is upon us next year.  In fact it might well be a self fulfilling prophecy.... for some at least. Many others will carry on doing well and will strive. As usual quality and excellence will prevail, I have no doubt about that.

Still, I think it will be tough and I am preparing myself and my team for a big fight. Next year mistakes will not be allowed, guests expectations will raise this much more (and quite rightly so) and hospitality and service will make THE difference.

For guests the difference will be as simple as returning one more time or go somewhere else.

So what can we do?

We need to invest MORE in training and development and train our teams relentlessly.
We also need to think ahead and prepare.

We need to get our teams together to agree and formulate a strategic plan for 2012. A good plan must include all aspects of the business.

This way we will feel stronger, more confident, more disciplined and in control of our future.



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