Build an army of regulars through proper service

How many of you loved that show Cheers? If you do, you’ll remember that every time Norm walked into the bar on Cheers, the entire bar would call out in unison “NORM!” It didn’t matter who was behind the bar, they knew what he drank, and it was ready and waiting for him as he assumed his position at the end of the bar.

Norm embodied the “regular,” the men and women who frequent your establishment regularly. They are the ones who more often than not, tip well, and don’t ask for any special kind of service. In many cases they are the types who spend thousands a year in your establishment. They are the cornerstones of your business, you certainly can’t afford to lose them, so the question clearly is how do you keep them and how do you get more of them?

I’ve seen lower volume establishments where regulars are praised and glorified, and high volume bars also where they are overlooked with the attitude that “it doesn’t really matter what kind of service they receive, they’ll come back anyway.” In an industry where service is paramount to the success of your business and your frontline service, staff are often on a career stopover on the way to something better, operators need to actively empower their staff to make sure that they you are cultivating long-term relationships with as many clients as possible, and creating experiences that they’ll remember, and come back for.

A good rule of thumb is that management should always be where the money is. If the restaurant is operating, management needs to be making regular rounds checking on guest experiences, not just server problems. Quite often guests will deal with sub-standard service by leaving little or no tip, and leave feeling dissatisfied. Management can circumvent this experience with a quick chat with each table.

Guests are quite often more apt to give negative feedback to someone who is empowered to change the situation. “Mistakes and mishaps are inevitable in any restaurant; if they are handled correctly the guest will take notice. Fixing mistakes promptly and properly can impact guests greatly. Some of our longest running guests started off on the wrong foot, problems were solved and the guests were impressed enough to return again and again,”

Everyone wants to feel special, yet most servers overlook the simple things like a smile and a genuine interest in a guest’s well being. Anticipating the needs of your clientele is the surest way to make people feel special. People respond to that kind of service, and with this philosophy every guest is a potential regular.

It is important that the servers are focused on providing service tailored to the guest’s needs. Obviously a birthday party and a solo businessperson require different styles of service.

Also, it may not always be possible to chat and check with every table in your establishment, so creating an atmosphere where your service staff feels comfortable approaching management to resolve guest issues in a timely manner is crucial to your ability to turn any negative experiences into positive ones. The bottom line is that when the service and food are good, guests will probably come back for seconds, maybe even become your regulars. If things go wrong and the problem isn’t addressed, you’ll never see them again. If there’s a problem and you address it, you guarantee that they will come back with their friends. Maybe they can be your regulars too.

Adopt this philosophy and you will reach the level of success that only a few will experience in their lives.

See you behind the bar!

This entry was posted in Proper Service, Raising the Bar. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.