Sharing Success

Preparing for “Review”

Professionals in the public eye (e.g., playwrights, professional athletes, restaurateurs) often experience a love/hate relationship with media critics/reviewers. Obviously, no one enjoys receiving a “poor grade” on performance. But restaurateurs receiving a “good grade” in a review not only find it enjoyable, but it often causes prospects to give your restaurant a try! When that happens, making a strong first impression requires energizing your team to be constantly “Preparing for Review.”

A recent magazine article described how a small hotel successfully motivated its employees for an upcoming “review.” This innkeeper’s experience offered useful insights to restaurateurs. The husband and wife owners of a country inn wanted to join a prestigious association of small hotels known for impeccably high standards, which would help differentiate the inn from its local competitors.

Qualification for membership required passing an anonymous inspection by an association reviewer posing as a regular guest. In preparation for the anonymous visit, the owners thoroughly briefed their staff about the importance of receiving a positive review, including each specific thing the reviewer would undoubtedly look for in staff service and the inn’s physical condition.

Because the reviewer would not be identifiable, the small, motivated staff began taking care of every customer as if that person were the reviewer. As a result, guest compliments (and tips) began to increase; staff pride was enhanced; and the staff’s efforts to exceed customer expectations were further enhanced. When the reviewer eventually did visit, the inn earned top marks based on “the royal treatment extended to every customer!”

What was striking about this real life story was further affirmation of something I believe in. It is wise to treat everyone you do business with (regardless of size) as a professional reviewer with the power to positively/negatively influence public awareness. Why? Because positive “word of mouth” is the best advertising you can have!

In my own experience, a total commitment to “Legendary Service” has provided multiple win win outcomes for our customers and for our business. Here are three:

Win Win #1—No matter the size of your business, loyalty is earned or lost one customer at a time. Treating each customer with the same genuine respect and personalized attention as you would give your biggest customer truly demonstrates that your business cares about all customers! When each customer receives “Legendary” treatment, they invariably reciprocate with their loyalty and spread the good word!

Win Win #2—Moving service levels from “acceptable” to “Legendary” requires getting your team motivated, trained, and focused on consistently exceeding customer expectations. When customer expectations are exceeded, they respond with more compliments; and because “Attaboys/Attagirls” are addictive, that results in team members’ greater efforts!

Win Win #3—Providing Legendary Service that exceeds individual customer expectations puts them in a “good mood.” Because the customers’ good moods are contagious, team members serving them become infected with a reciprocal “good mood” and the process becomes self-inoculating!

So the conclusion is irrefutable and profound. Even though their opinion may not appear in a newspaper, every customer is your professional reviewer! Because “word of mouth” is your best (or worst) advertising, investing personal energy toward creating a culture of Legendary Service will provide your business and your customers with win win dividends!

If you’re not there already, how do you get there? First, make Legendary Service your nonnegotiable standard operating procedure. Second, provide your team understandable, specific definitions of what is/is not Legendary Service. Third, just as in athletics, consistently coach your team toward being Legendary. Last, regularly measure team performance against your Legendary standard. (What gets clearly defined, consistently coached, and regularly measured, gets done!)

You and I know that the success of Independent restaurateurs depends on superior food quality. But adding Legendary Service creates a winning combination that simply can’t be beat! And here’s the best part. From personal experience, I can say that positive reviews from happy customers continually energize me and our team toward more of the same!