Hotel F&B Observer Blog

Hotel food and beverage professionals share experience, skills and commentary. These hotelier blogs reflect a variety of unique career perspectives and real-life workplace stories, observations and opinions.

Your Customer Doesn’t Care About You and How To Fix That

Life has a funny way of throwing us curve balls.  Things never seem to go as planned or as we hoped.  It’s understandable that we would become discouraged or upset when this happens and take our problems to work.

“I’m going to speak with Sheila when I get to work, she is always good with things like this,” you may say.  You get to work, punch in, and start your shift at the restaurant or customer service desk.  As soon as Sheila arrives you start to tell her your problems, diligently waiting for her sound advice.

But what you fail to realize is that phones are ringing, customers are waiting in line, and they are getting upset. Upset that the person that should be taking care of them is more focused on their own issues than providing service to the cash-paying customer.

The customers don’t care about our problems, should they?

When has it become acceptable to start or enter into a non work related conversation with a fellow employee when you are “on the floor”?

How can you realize if your guests are in need of something or if their food is waiting under the kitchen heat lamp when you’re talking about your date last night or your favorite football team?  The goal of any business is to provide the highest level of service to their customers but how can you, as the business representative, do this if you are not paying attention to your guest!

“Yeah, but I just left my table, they were fine.  I refilled their water and bread basket and asked if they needed anything else.  What more do you want from me?” you may say.

You must be laser-focused on the customer, from the moment they enter your business until they leave!

Do you think that when some star baseball player is in the batting cage he is BS’ing about the vacation he just returned from?  Do you think that when that lead guitarist from the big rock band is on stage he would lean over to his band mate to tell him about the new car he just bought?  Do you think that actress on stage at the award show will pull out her cell phone and show us photos of her new puppy?  I don’t think so.

How do you think they got to where they are?  By taking their job as serious as a heart attack.

By focusing on what they need to get better at and devoting all their efforts to make it happen.  By paying attention to the task at hand.

Your task at hand is the customer in front of you.

Remember, the customer doesn’t care about your needs or your problems.  They only care about their needs.  Who can blame them?

When you are waiting in that long line at the supermarket the day before a big holiday, do you care that the cashier has been standing there for the past 3 hours scanning items and filling bag after bag of groceries?

Heck no, you just want to get out of there.  “What’s taking her so long” you are saying to yourself.  “I’ve got things to do and don’t feel like spending all day here.”

Well that’s what your guests are saying to themselves as well when they are looking around the restaurant for you.  “I want to place my order, where’s the waiter?”  “Can’t I get a refill on my coffee, where’s the waiter?”  “Come on man; bring back my credit card I want to go home”.

This is what’s happening in the mind of your guest when you are not around and they need you.  Don’t get into side conversations with your work buddies, your guests don’t care about that.  Don’t complain to your bartender friend about your problems, your guests don’t care about that either.

A few other things your guests don’t care about…

  • Your alarm didn’t go off so you overslept and were late for work.  So now your boss gave you the worst closing assignments.
  • You got stuck at your “other job” so you rushed over here and didn’t have time to shave in between jobs.  You look like hell.  The customers should not have to be served by some scruffy-looking dude.
  • You just had a fight with your boyfriend and are now mad at the world and really don’t want to smile or greet the customers in the normal manner.
  • Your car got repossessed and you need to wait for a friend to take you home.  She just called you to say she will be really late and that’s going to mess up the rest of your day.
  • Your mind is somewhere else because you have a lot of homework to do after your shift and finals are next week.

You may have your own stuff to talk about but not during working hours.

Be professional.  Describe a few of the dishes in detail to your guests.  Show your guests you know the menu like the back of your hand.  They may want to try something different.  Tell them about the history of the restaurant.  Let them know about any upcoming special promotions planned.

Realize that your guests have their own issues, problems and concerns.  They must not be burdened with an inattentive employee too preoccupied to satisfy their needs.  Leave your troubles at home; put them in the trunk of your car when you drive to work.  Leave them on the bus; close them behind the train doors. Take them anywhere else but never to work.

Be “a person” to your guests, not just “the waiter”.  The customer may “like” a waiter but feel a connection to “a person”.  Treat them well and they will treat YOU well.


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What Happened To Customer Service?

Through a company I’m involved with, we submitted a proposal for a significant statewide bid. This 25 page submission included hours of legwork. To ensure the proposal would arrive in the state capital on time for the bid openings we sent the package priority overnight with a guaranteed delivery time. The United States Postal Service got the time right but missed the guaranteed day by 24 hours. The result of which will be, at minimum, thousands of dollars in lost sales. For that mistake the U.S.P.S. offered us our postage back and a meager apology.

I’m sure we’ve all had similar experiences. From the view of a procurement agent examples such as these really make you wonder what happened to Customer Service.

Remember a time when you could speak to a human being? How about being able to work with someone that truly knew what they were talking about? Have you visited a hardware store lately? Today’s business is about automating, streamlining, downsizing and doing more with less. What service is someone providing when it takes the customer 15 minutes to speak to a living, breathing human being? Somewhere along the way the idea of truly servicing the customer seemed to fall through the cracks. Where resolving product concerns/questions would once take a few minutes, the amount of time doubles when you have to work with automated systems, minimally-skilled employees and/or off-shore phone support.

Some organizations still realize what sets them apart from others is true customer service. This doesn’t mean having a cute slogan or colorful banner promoting customer service. This is about getting back to the basics. I would gladly spend a few dollars more to work with organizations that support their products, understand their products, put themselves in the shoes of the customers they support and just take the time to care for the success of their customers. In the long run you will actually see that there is a return on investment to your organization for supporting organizations such as these.

The idea of customer service is how I approach my job as a procurement agent. I have worked alongside of buyers who have cut corners, had questionable ethics or have been yellers and screamers with the organizations they purchased from. In some cases they would achieve short term success. My point of view is the idea of customer service. I understand that success of my organization depends on long term relationships with our suppliers. Positive relationships ensure long term success for all parties in the supply chain.

In the example above maybe the U.S.P.S. could have just offered to contact the state to advise the bid department that they made the mistake. It wouldn’t have required much effort on their part and it would have produced goodwill with our company.

Until Next Time…..


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Why You Can’t Be a Perfectionist Forever

One of the challenges faced by a perfectionist is longevity.

When we are younger and have energy to burn, we can relentlessly work through exhaustion and jump through hoops daily to achieve the perfection we seek. Usually this perfection is attained solely from our personal labor since “no one else can make it perfect but me.”

But as we move through time, we slow down enough to the point where we don’t have an unlimited supply of energy. Not enough time can be spent away from our family or illnesses arise that supply the setbacks of life.

This is when the perfectionist wishes that he/she had built a team around him so others can continue his dream of perfection. We can only do it all ourselves for so long. And be perfect for even less.

So have you built your team around you?

You haven’t? So how do you expect your business to prosper? How long can you do it all?

Your customers expect much from you, they look towards that perfection you offer, that you promote, that you insist will happen and that you will provide.  But is this realistic on behalf of the customer, of from you for that matter? Probably not. So why do we insist on being perfect and how will you get there all by yourself?

Most, if not all, of our customers don’t really believe all the hype that the average television commercial states or what that print ad promises. But they do want value. They need assurance that their money has been well spent and they desire a customer experience second to none. So how will you provide this by trying to be perfect?  You can’t, so stop trying.

Hire the best people, people with a customer-first mindset. Search for the candidates that are goal-oriented and “teachable.” You can always train them the necessary job skills but attitude, desire, forward thinking, and a heavy dose of common sense must already be present.

Encourage a group responsibility to look at a product or service challenge from all angles, especially from the customer’s point of view.  “What would I expect if I were buying this product?”  “How would I feel if I had to wait on hold for 20 minutes just to speak with a live person on the phone?”  “Are we delivering what we advertize?”  “Is this the best we can do?”

Before long you will be surrounded by a team of like-minded “ambassadors” who will treat your business as their own, for the good of the company and the customer.

Only then can you produce a product of the highest level and provide the best guest experience possible. It may not be perfection, but it will be close. And you will not have to do it alone anymore.


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Be Fruitful and Multiply

The assumption that healthy eating equates to a lack of taste is a thing of the past.  All too often, it is believed that when seeking a healthy banquet/restaurant meal you must be prepared for a void in taste.

In working with some health-conscientious clients to plan their anniversary banquet, they felt trapped in Boredomville, and they were ready to downplay their event meal.

I believe that when you are celebrating you should feel free to enjoy and savor the bountiful flavors of your favorite foods.  So, I sat them down and asked them, “What would you love to eat if this was your last meal on earth?” and we started on a journey.  The list of items stemmed from childhood favorites to new cuisine that they always felt cheated of, and from there I asked them to give me some creative license to propose an attractive menu with a few twist to give them an enjoyable festive meal, and they agreed. Read more of this >>


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Is In-Room Dining Next On The Chopping Block?

I’ve been working in hotels since the 1980’s so I have seen a number of changes. Prior to that and, into the last few years, In-Room Dining has served a great need. For a price you could dine in the confines of your own room (a real perk for the single business traveler or the family who just wants to unwind for the night). As times have changed, so have the needs of the hotel guests our operations serve.

Do you remember a time when every hotel had a fine dining restaurant? That fine dining restaurant was like our appendix at one time; it did have a purpose. However, as we moved into the more price conscious, instant gratification society we see today, our hotel guest no longer desired the 3 hour gourmet meal experience. Eventually those culinary anchors started to disappear. They were replaced with more casual and approachable dining options. Read more of this >>


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To Have and to Hold

Recently, at a network event a new planner approached me with a challenge that she was facing.

She had a client who was disturbed by the creative path of her wedding plans, and the planner could not figure where she had gone wrong. She felt that she followed the given instructions and emphasized that she even gone above and beyond.

So, I asked her to retrace her tracks from the point of the discussion in which her client explained what she wanted. She stated she did this already and she signified that the client’s ideas were so simple, it needed more enhancements.

Reflecting on a similar personal experience, I gently explained.

You are bursting with talent and ready to amaze the world, however, you were entrusted with a dream and you replaced it with your own. Read more of this >>


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Accurate Beverage Management Using Technology

By Dr. Fred J. DeMicco  and Brian Liachowitz

Inventory management is an important factor in restaurants. Poorly performing inventory management often leads to inventory shrinkage and employee theft. An area that is often most susceptible to inventory shrinkage is beverage management. There are many ways that an employee can steal from a restaurant while handling alcoholic beverages. In these instances, inventory control is imperative. With emerging technologies, there are many systems that can be used to manage beverage inventory. Some of the most popular beverage management systems available to date are AccuBar, EasyBar, and Bevinco’s Bar Management Solution. These systems allow managers to holistically view the flow of inventory as it enters the restaurant up until the beverage is poured to the guest. Read more of this >>


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Fusion: The Natural Evolution of Food

The ability to blend the foods, preparation methods and unique styles of different cultures and cuisines into harmonious dishes that make sense is often the result of food evolution not fusion. Fusion is the term currently used and is often thought of or is referred to as a food revolution. There are countless similarities between cultures that lend themselves well to localized cuisines and indigenous ingredients. I am always amazed at the creative development of great foods that just make good sense, almost always leading me to think, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Read more of this >>


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