Here's the rest of our interview with the director of training for a
successful farm-to- table establishment. The company quickly grew from 40 to 1,000 employees and opened 13 locations across the Southeast.
In Part I (available by clicking here), we talked about turning secret shop data into a positive with staff, advantages to changing up the monthly secret shop questions as well as focusing on questions that tie directly to guest satisfaction with greeting, atmosphere, and service.
Share your secrets to restaurant success that can be incorporated into secret shopping programs.
We find that people come for the food but stay for the service. So, we focus on the consistent, high-quality, fresh ingredients that made us successful and the customer service and general atmosphere we've learned keeps people happy and coming back.
Easy, enjoyable guest-staff interaction is vital. All people want to feel welcome, treated like family. They also expect excellent service at the table. We emphasize service quality across all customer-facing staff.
After the sense of being welcomed, people expect a great atmosphere and quality food.
How do you define server quality?
A lack of server efficiency is what drives people crazy. Diners want efficient and friendly servers that keep their table clean. People tend to have three key expectations:
- Drinks refilled readily
- Clean silverware
- Server availability (not hovering)
From a training standpoint, we teach servers to anticipate what a guest needs versus asking a lot of questions. It's what we call silent service. For example, if the plate is pushed to the side, take it. Dirty silverware from the first course should be removed and replaced before the next course is served.
A server should clean and prep the table around a customer without asking them or interrupting conversation while in the process.
How do you achieve quality atmosphere and environment?
Everything from the server's attire to the bathrooms and floors should be neat and tidy. Bathroom cleanliness is a challenge in high-volume restaurants where you have 300 people coming and going from a restroom.
Each employee is expected to take responsibility for the condition of our bathrooms. The hosts and server assistants are tasked with timed checks throughout their shift.
Scaling up a restaurant business is tricky. One of the toughest aspects is maintaining the culture and quality that made a place popular to begin with. Secret shops can play an important role in utilizing positive reinforcement to preserve and enhance a customer service culture.