By John Clausen
In the service industry, people seem to have the greatest impact on costs and on revenue — costs such as the efficient use of resources and providing high-quality service at a reasonable price; and revenue generated by repeatable business and positive customer referrals.
Technology, meanwhile, can also be used to enhance the customer experience and make better use of your limited people resources.
With most industries now realizing that the customer experience can drive revenue long term through retention and growth, all service businesses should now be considering how they can ensure their customers are treated well every visit, that the food is enjoyed and that the overall experience is positive.
Staff training and technology are the best ways to achieve consistently improved customer experience with cost reductions and revenue growth.
Staff training is a critical aspect of ensuring that people are effectively and consistently utilized. And while there is a cost attached to this, there is a greater cost to not training.
Think about the last staff meeting that was held? What questions came up, what problems and issues were presented? How did you deal with the questions? Could these form the basis for a training program?
With good training your staff feel confident in what they are doing and this will be positive when dealing with customers. Customers respond well to staff who know the menu, address customer concerns and questions and who provide a great customer experience.
- Training is essential when staff begin their employment and it is important to continue the training. Use customer and staff feedback as the basis for each pre-shift meeting to improve processes and procedures. Hold regular training meetings. Ensure that procedures are documented into Standard Operating Procedures which should be developed and utilized in daily operations (such as equipment maintenance and overall facility cleanliness).
- Staff training will also improve overall restaurant maintenance and equipment maintenance. Train staff to clean and maintain equipment. This is critical to extending the life of equipment. A clean and healthy environment for customers and staff will drive future revenue.
- Good training equals staff retention. Consider the cost to hire, train and manage new staff and the savings to be realized by retaining happy trained staff.
- Build training sessions into all aspects of the business. Seek opportunities to schedule training daily for employees. Track your training efforts and customer comments, noting changes and corrective actions needed.
Technology to enhance foodservice quality
Using technology such as an iPad or other tablet as a menu selection tool can, when properly implemented, speed up customer service by allowing them to search and place their order with the iPad and provide a guide to delivery times. It is a sales tool providing immediate feedback, pictures of food menu items and suggestions for selections.
A server using an iPad for orders may receive reminders built into the order platform such as pop ups to remind them to offer specials or upgrade an order with a side or a wine selection based on the menu item chosen.
The use of technology speeds customer service and enhances the experience, thereby ensuring return customers and increasing existing revenue streams with upgrades to orders and added food or drink selections purchased. You may also reduce meal returns due to errors or customer dissatisfaction with the order.
People, training and technology will add value, reduce costs and enhance long-term revenues as demonstrated below:
- A Toast Inc. 2015 Survey indicated overwhelmingly that inventory management and on-line ordering were in the Top 3 technology requirements.
- In a BC Tourism Survey, 40 per cent of employees receiving poor job training leave within the first year. Sales declines, productivity slips and costs to hire new employees maybe up to $2,500 each.
- Training Magazine ranks 125 organizations for employee development – example Cheesecake Factory invests $2,000 per employee annually in training. The chain enjoys $1,000 per square foot in sales, almost double the industry average.
About the author:
John Clausen CPA, CMA, Acc. Dir. is Senior Vice President, Collins Barrow Durham Consultants Inc. and has over 30 years’ experience working with businesses of all sizes. For more information, email JEClausen@collinsbarrow.com.