Guest blog by Joanie Simon
General Manager at Copperstate Restaurant Technologies
I spend a lot of time in restaurants. I dine out frequently, but more often, I am behind the scenes, in the “BOH” (Back of House), helping restaurants solve their business problems. Great food is important, but effective management is paramount. A fantastic steak is only enjoyable if it is cooked to your liking, with the sides you requested, is attractively garnished, and is delivered by a friendly server. Every one of those elements can only be achieved if the people running the place know how to orchestrate a positive dining experience.
So many things can go wrong. The oven could be on the fritz and burn the steak. The chef could be distracted by a personal problem and over-salt the potatoes. It might be the server’s first night on the job, and she might be completely overwhelmed by the number of tables she has been assigned, delaying the order-taking process.
The same can be said for most small businesses. For my business, a programmer could incorrectly program the price for a bottle of champagne, resulting in losses to the restaurant when that item is purchased. My accounts receivable team member could attempt to collect the wrong amount, infuriating the customer. A salesperson could overpromise on a delivery timeline. Just like the restaurants we serve, we do everything we can to ensure our customers are happy. We want them to return and to tell their friends about us.
The most successful restaurants have all figured out the secret to a positive customer experience. Granted, they all have their own styles, attitudes and ways of doing business. But, they all share one unifying thread: they demand effective communication at all levels. If a cook doesn’t let another cook know he is stepping behind him, a collision could happen, and your dinner could end up on the floor. If the host fails to inform the server that the table she just seated is a VIP, and she always orders a glass of pinot noir, the guest will not have the superior treatment they expect. Likewise, in my business, if the salesperson does not inform the implementation team about the customer’s requirements, we can end up with a customer unwilling to refer our company in the future based on their dissatisfaction.
The impact of communicating the smallest details can exponentially impact your business. The best restaurants know this and have technology to manage the details. For example, CityEats provides restaurants with a table management system that tracks customer preferences. Every time Mr. Jones dines at his favorite restaurant, the host can communicate to the server that he always sits at the table by the fireplace, likes to start with a dirty martini with two olives, and is a vegetarian. Diners’ tastes and demands are at an all-time high, and they are able to publicly share their thoughts about their experiences on a myriad of online review sites. Has your business ever been affected by an online review? Do you know what people are saying about your business? If your team can effectively communicate to meet customers’ needs, chances are, there are some good reviews about you. If you can dial into the intricate details of what your customers require and who they are, and they feel like you care, they will be raving fans.
How do you communicate within your business to meet these high standards? I leverage new technology as much as possible. There are so many fantastic cloud-based resources, such as CX cloud storage for business, that have revolutionized how teams communicate and collaborate in real time. If you do not currently have a solution to manage all of your customer information, do some research, talk to industry contacts, and consult with other businesses comparable to yours. Investing your time in finding a product that fits will pay dividends in happy customers.
If you already have a great technology resource for internal communication, learn all you can about it, and leverage it to its maximum capacity. Next, teach your team how to do the same, and maintain standards to keep the system running smoothly. Unfortunately, these same great resources can be a liability if they are not properly maintained. I created a best practices handbook for our systems, and everyone in the company is charged with maintaining the standards. We also take time each month to discuss changes that need to be made to the standards as we continue to delve deeper into the software.
We are only as good as the information that we maintain about our customers. The more accurate the details, the happier the customers, and the more we add to our bottom line.
Joanie Simon is the General Manager at Copperstate Restaurant Technologies, providing technology solutions to maximize a restaurant’s bottom line. Specializing in Point-of-Sale, gift and loyalty programs, digital marketing and in-store signage, Copperstate is also partnered with The Food Network to bring you CityEats.com. CityEats is the place to book the hottest tables in town.