Search Results for: a greeting

A Greeting, A Seating and Setting the Tone

 

Welcome back to another serving of Soupfly

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In order to create an exceptional dining experience all the time, everywhere for everyone, there are so many factors that must work in harmony with each other.  Every component is so vital and so important that if even one, seemingly small part, is missing, it’s like listening to the music of a beautiful orchestra with just one obo out of tune and  hitting a flat note.  That one part being out of sync can turn what potentially is a very wonderful experience into something less than pleasant.  That one instrument, that one musician is messing up the entire concert.  The very first notes of the symphony literally and otherwise,  SET THE TONE  for the entire experience to follow.

So it is in the Restaurant Business.  The importance of the Host, Hostess or Maitre D (henceforth I may refer to them as HHM) performing their responsibilities in an excellent manner cannot be overstated.  And yet so many times it is the one position that is so undervalued, under recognized and certainly, often under compensated in the Service Industry.

I’m sure you may have experienced something similar to the following:  Upon arriving at a restaurant whether with my wife or a group of friends, we are often greeted by the Host or Hostess at a restaurant with a one word question, “Two?” ; “Four?” Or if they feel like going all out they may say something to the effect of: “Is there four?”  “Will there be four?”

To which I, with my bit of sarcasm-sorry-might reply; “Four what?”  And to that, their response is often, “Are there four of you?” OR “Four people?”

No “Hi”.  NO “Hello, Good evening,”  NO “Welcome, sir, ma’am,  to ABC Bistro.”   Why oh why is this such a common occurrence?

If I may, let me address all the Hosts, Hostesses and Maitre’ D’s out there.  Your job is so very important.  You may not feel it or believe it sometimes.   You may never have really been told so.   But it truly is vital to the success of your establishment.  The manner in which a guest is greeted as they enter a restaurant truly Sets the Tone for  their entire dining experience.  We’ve all heard and been taught that “First impressions are lasting impressions.”  And “You only get one chance to create a first impression.”  These are not just cliches but they are absolutely 100% true statements.

When a guest walks into an establishment and they have to wait to even be greeted or acknowledged-that’s not good.  Or if they are only greeted with a grunt of “Two?”  Or they are greeted by a host or hostess that has a less than pleasant attitude, or is chewing gum, or eating, or more focused on their cell phone than on their patrons standing in front of them-that doesn’t set a great tone for how this dining experience is going to be.  It doesn’t set  a high bar for their expectations.

A guest needs to be welcomed warmly and made to feel welcome as they enter your establishment and feel happy as they are exiting.  Whether one is a “regular” at the place or a first time guest-every one who walks in the door should be made to feel special.  They need to feel like you’ve been expecting them all along and that you are so glad that they are here.

How do you feel when you go to your best friend’s house?  Or better yet, your Grandmother’s house?  Think back to when you were a kid and you were going to visit your Grandma.  How did you feel?  I’ll bet pretty great, right?   She always knew how to make you feel like you were the absolute most important person in the world.  Right?  Why is that?  Well, because to your Grandma-you were.    I know I was.  Or at least I felt that way. Maybe some of you still are.  That’s how you need to make your guests feel who come into your restaurant and it begins with the Host, Hostess, Maitre DHHM).   Your position is crucial to the success of the entire operation.

Imagine this: A guest or group of guests comes to your restaurant and not only do you greet them warmly  and welcome them with a pleasant smile and a cheerful upbeat-“Good evening, Welcome to ABC Bistro.  How are you all this evening?”, But you even go one step further and one or two of you on the HHM team actually Opens the Door for the guests!  This may be perceived by some to be a very small gesture but it carries such a great impact.  And what do you think might be going through the mind of those guests?  Maybe something like; “Wow! We’ve barely stepped foot inside the restaurant and we already have a feeling that this is going to be a great dining experience.”  

 

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Next, as the guests are being escorted to their table, the hostess is not walking twenty feet in front of them racing to put the menus down on the table.  Rather, she is walking  just slightly ahead of the group of guests and looking back at them engaging them in conversation.  “How has your day been so far?, she asks one of the group.  Next, she says; “What are you celebrating tonight?” She then tells them that she heard in the meeting that they just got in some freshly harvested Morels and says, “I don’t know if you all are fond of mushrooms but the chef has a few specials featuring fresh Morels tonight.  Be sure to ask your server about them. Especially the Morel mushroom soup.”

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Put yourself in the place of those patrons.  Now that you have been welcomed, greeted, escorted and seated by an enthusiastic, pleasant and upbeat HHM, the Tone Has Been Set.  When  the server arrives a few moments later at the table, you are in  a pleasant mood and you are confidently expecting a wonderful dining experience.  And that is all due to the HHM doing more than the all too common; “Two? Ok.  Follow me. Enjoy” routine.

The Server, now picks up the baton of Excellent Service that the HHM has handed off to him.  I’m not saying that  the responsibility of setting the tone and setting the expectations of the guest lies solely with the HHM team.  It absolutely does not.  And it really is incumbent upon that server to carry on and capitalize on what was begun by the effective HHM.  Heck, his job is already half done for him.  (Don’t tell any server, I said that.)    However, you (HHM) are on the front, front lines.  You are the first ones that the guests interact with.  It all begins with you.

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The Restaurant business is certainly not the  only industry that has  an HHM type position.  What we are really talking about here is any public facing, customer interacting, front lines position in any business.   Whether you work as a host or hostess at a restaurant, a front desk clerk in a hotel, a receptionist at a doctor’s office, law firm or  car dealership, a customer service representative  or a clerk at the DMV-YOU  are the one who creates the first impression and the customer perception of that business.  I saw a plaque on a receptionist’s desk at a huge fortune 500 company one time that read: Director of First Impressions.    And that- each of you in those and similar positions absolutely and truly are as well.

 And if ever the misfortune of a Soupfly does happen, there is a greater chance of a strong and positive recovery happening because then it’s just a mistake that can be remedied because the Director of First Impressions (YOU)  did their job properly and effectively.

*****NOTE-There is so much more that I could mention about the various responsibilities that an effective HHM has in the Restaurant business and I’ll be covering that and many more topics  in depth in my soon to be published Best SellerGETTING TO WOW!! First Class Restaurant Service

I WILL SOON BE TAKING ADVANCED/PRE-SALE ORDERS FOR GETTING TO WOW! First Class Restaurant Service

DETAILS TO FOLLOW SOON

Thank you so much for reading.  Please be Sociable and Share

 

Christoff J. Weihman

ChristoffJWeihman.com

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This entry was posted on July 17, 2014. 3 Comments

Dinner-Made- the Way We Like it

WELCOME BACK TO SOUPFLY!

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When it comes to Service & Hospitality, I have always been of the opinion that it doesn’t take a lot to really provide a WOW! experience for your guests.  Unfortunately, it is more uncommon than common, so when we do experience a place that does it right we want to shine a light on that place, it’s staff and say “Thank you and Congratulations” to them.  This was the case with our recent visit to Made LV at Tivoli Village in Summerlin, Nevada.

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Michelle and I had frequented the bar and enjoyed happy hour there a number times previously.  However we had not actually ever had the full experience of sitting at  a table, being served and dining at Made LV.  Made LV, (which is owned by the same husband and wife team of Chef Kim Canteenwalla and Elizabeth Blau, who also,own Honey Salt and recently opened Andiron Steak and Sea), brands itself as “an American tavern”. Frankly a tavern environment is fine for a few drinks and bar food but not necessarily the type of place I prefer to eat at dinner at.  But on this particular occasion, I was really in the mood for one of my favorite vegetarian/vegan  sandwiches-the eggplant pastrami.  Michelle and I were wanting to have a nice, but not extravagant dinner-so with said sandwich in mind I suggested Made LV to her.

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We walked into Made LV and we were greeted by the hostess by the all too common phrase that so many hostesses in restaurants say, “Two for dinner?”.  (For my thoughts on how and why this is in no way an exceptional welcome/greeting please see a previous post here on Soupfly entitled-A Greeting, A Seating and Setting the Tone):

https://soupfly.wordpress.com/?s=a+greeting%2C+a+seating

While I was not thrilled with this less than welcoming greeting-I am happy to report that Julie, the hostess,  made up for it in spades (an appropriate Vegas metaphor) by what she did next.  As we entered Made, we quickly noticed that there was live music playing in the bar area. Normally that would be a welcome treat, however, we both were in the mood for a more relaxing and quiet ambience.  The group that was playing definitely sounded great but they were loud.  Very loud.  We just couldn’t see ourselves enjoying our dinner with such loud music playing.  After realizing that our hope for a quiet relaxing dinner was not going to be fulfilled here and as much as I had my heart set on the eggplant pastrami we decided to go elsewhere.  We told Julie that we just wanted a quieter environment and that we’d return another time.  We exited Made and stood outside, in front of the restaurant considering our other options. All of a sudden, here comes Julie with a look of determination on her face.  She politely says to us, “I know that the music may be a bit too loud inside, but what about a table on the patio where it will be much quieter and we’ll turn the heat lamps on for you?”  After considering her idea for a few moments, Michelle and I decided-“Yes, yes indeed, We’ll take you up on it.” As she escorted us to the patio, she said, “If you really were determined to eat here, I didn’t want you to have to go somewhere else.”

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So, Julie, with her quick thinking and her desire to make the guest-(actually since we weren’t even in the restaurant we weren’t technically guests)- happy, she won us back.  Once we were seated, she ensured us that it would be pleasant and quieter and told us that Ryan would be out soon to light the heat lamp.  That, though it may seem like a very small gesture-got me.  And as I said at the beginning here, it doesn’t take a lot to provide excellent Service & Hospitality. Julie was aware that I had my heart set on the eggplant pastrami  and though the loud music was a challenge-she was creative and quick thinking and found a way to accommodate us.

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The ambience on the patio was lovely, with a nice view of Tivoli village and the music now considerably quieter.  The tone had now been set for a relaxing, enjoyable dinner.  Our server, Rene, was pleasant, friendly and conscientious. He happily accommodated our requests, as both Michelle and I made slight modifications to our order off the menu. Although I said that I was intent on the eggplant pastrami-I of course ordered it with no cheese and no dressing-thereby making the vegetarian on the menu sandwich a vegan one. Michelle has recently chosen to be on a gluten free/almost dairy free diet and none of our requests presented any challenge to Rene.  He not only was knew what food contains gluten and how to modify an order to make it gluten free.  He even told us that all such requests are cooked in pans that are designated for gluten free cooking. However, he did mention that there could be cross contamination of gluten in the french fries.  I was impressed that he offered that information rather than waiting for us to ask.  Many Service and Hospitality workers that we’ve met are completely clueless about gluten and other types of dietary restrictions.  Our food came out exactly as we ordered and it was great!

Rene gave us just the right amount of attention-a balance between TMA (too much attention) & TLA (too little attention).  He checked on us at the appropriate times, made sure that our food was to our liking and just overall very friendly.

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And by the way, Ryan did come out to light the heat lamp for us although it took a few attempts.  First there was no tank in it, so he came back with a new one.  Then Rene said, “It’s not working because the tube is broke.”  But rather than telling us, “I’m sorry we can’t light it.” OR that we need to move to another table, Ryan was determined to get it fixed and working for us. He replaced the tank and the tube and after 3 attempts-he got it lit. Also, our table was unstable and rather than offering some lame response like -“All our tables are like that”, he fixed it. He apologized that they didn’t have the proper wedges for stabilizing tables, so he used the linen napkin-which in my opinion does not look great but it does get the job done.   I am surprised at how few restaurants actually have in stock the wedges that are made specifically for that purpose and therefore the service staff is left having to use coasters, napkins and sweetener packets.  Regardless, we were very happy with Ryan’s “get it done” attitude.

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And on top of all that, Brad the manager came out to greet us. He was very friendly and engaging.  We learned that he is actually the brother of Jim, the GM at Elements. (See previous post)He asked us how we were enjoying everything and we told him how Julie had won us back when we were set on leaving.

So, thanks to Julie’s quick thinking and the combined teamwork of Ryan and Rene, Michelle and I had a lovely, relaxing dinner on the patio with a stable table, a glowing heat lamp, quiet music emanating from the bar, good food, good service and a beautiful night time view of Tivoli Village.  It was not extravagant. It was not over the top high end service-but I will tell you that I count it as one of our better dining experiences.

Thank you team at Made LV-you guys all “made” our night!  See you soon.

http://made-lv.com/

Thank you all for reading!  We love our readers!  Please Share on Social Media.

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For your signed copy of my book, Getting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service, go to my website:

http://www.gettingtowowbook.com/

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God Bless You & Cheers!

Christoff J. Weihman

ASPIRE Enterprises

Las Vegas, NV 

Soupfly’s Travel Adventures -Part 2

WELCOME BACK TO SOUPFLY!

 

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Continuing from our post from November 19…

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While in Minneapolis, we returned to the Mall of America the next day to shop and enjoy the day together with my daughter, Kimberly, while Lilly and Carly (our puppies) stayed at Kimberly and Jesse’s apartment.

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We ate lunch at CRAVE, which features both modern American fare as well as sushi. As we approached the host stand, I inquired as to whether they had any booths available.  We were informed that they were all occupied but that they had a table available immediately.  We opted for the immediate table rather than wait for a booth to open up.  As we were being escorted to the table by the hostess, we saw that there was a booth that was vacant in the same area and that was partially cleared and cleaned.  We asked the hostess if we might be able to wait for that booth to be cleaned and set for us.  She rolled her eyes and then said yes.  I realize that it wasn’t what her plan was, however, we told her we were willing to wait for it.  As a host or hostess, one must be gracious, have an upbeat, pleasant attitude and not show disdain for your guests.

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Once we were seated, the service, led by our server, Ozzy, was very good.  He and his team did a nice job of cheerfully serving our lunch.  He made great recommendations, was not fazed by the modifications I requested on my entree and it was really a pleasure to be served by him.  There were only a couple issues-one, the glasses were gritty on the outside, as if there were a problem with their dishwasher, and I, was served my meal ahead of my wife and my daughter.  I know we live in a society that is very progressive in many ways, however, it is still proper to serve Ladies First.  I brought the gritty glass issue up to Mikayla, the service supervisor, who promptly brought us new glasses.  And the General Manager, Jude was at our table within minutes to apologize for the situation.  The food was very good and overall it was a  good experience.  If you go to Mall of America, I recommend that you give CRAVE a try.

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Actually, there is a new CRAVE that has opened at Downtown Summerlin, here in Las Vegas.  Michelle has already been a couple times and I’ve been once.  Again, overall-good-I wouldn’t say “very” this time and also, I will suggest that the host staff needs some training.  This seems to be such a common theme many places that we go.  I’ve done a whole blog post on this back on July 17, entitled “A Greeting, A Seating & Setting the Tone”.  A host/hostess’ job is so vital to setting the tone for the entire service.  What you do is so important. A host/hostess’ attitude, demeanor, personality and communication skill play a very big part in the overall success of the restaurant.  Check out my post from July for more on this topic:

https://soupfly.wordpress.com/?s=a+greeting

After two days in Minnesota it was time for us to travel south to Ottawa, Illinois-my hometown, to visit my Mom and her husband George.  Although it was quite cold in Minnesota-35 during the day and in the 20s at night, it was sunny with no precipitation until we left.  Literally, the snow storm came the day we left.  Thank God!  We drove 6 uneventful hours with the puppies still comfortable and enjoying their   puppy carseat.  If you have small dogs and you travel often, I highly recommend that you try it out for your little furry ones.  You and they will be glad you did!

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In Ottawa, it was v-e-e-e-e-e-r-r-r-r-y cold and windy!  BRRRRRRR! I am not fond of the cold in the least.  We met my Mom and George for breakfast at a local diner.  We found out that that day happened to be George’s birthday-his 94th birthday!  God Bless him!  At 94 years of age, George acts like he is 20 years younger.  He always has an upbeat, cheerful and positive attitude.  He is not a complainer.  He just seems to love life.  What a great example for all of us.

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We also learned from George that during WWII he had been involved in something called Operation Varsity-which was the last and most spectacular Airborne Invasion in all of history.  It happened right on the heels of the Battle of the Bulge bringing in replacements for all the troops lost in that battle.

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As we were sitting at my Mom’s house, George pulled a small piece of paper out of his wallet and began to describe the event.  He had been amongst the over 20,000 paratroopers and glidertroopers that landed at the Rhine River in the Ruhr Basin in Germany for this assault.  As he began talking, Michelle said we should record this.  So, I asked George to stop and start over so I could get it on film. You can watch the clip of George talking about Operation Varsity here:

 

(Sorry, still having trouble uploading video. Soon to come when I repost this)

After a short few hours of visiting my Mom and George in Ottawa, it was time to head out to St. Louis.  The puppies also enjoyed the short visit with Carly spending most of it sitting on my Mom’s lap.

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The weather was sunny and clear as we drove south to the place where Michelle and I met, just two years earlier.  We arrived in St. Louis just as the sun was about to set and seeing the sun glistening on the Arch as we pulled into town brought a feeling of warmth to our hearts.  However, it was cold outside.  But thankfully the next two days were the warmest it had been in St. Louis for weeks.  65 degrees in St. Louis in the middle of November was a nice welcome for us!

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Saturday evening was the going away party for Michelle’s daughter, Melissa.  She would be moving out to Las Vegas, so she would be joining us on the trek back in a few days. It was great to spend a few days in St. Louis to visit Michelle’s family who all miss her so dearly.  And of course Lilly and Carly, too, soooooooo enjoyed their homecoming as well.

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One evening, we met up with Julia Petrovic, a long time friend of Michelle’s and the person who was most instrumental in her following the path to her nursing career.  Although that was the first time I had ever met Julia, she has been a wonderful, encouraging supporter/follower of me/Soupfly.  Thanks, Julia, not only for following Soupfly but more importantly for guiding Michelle to pursue nursing. Every person in our lives has helped lead us to where we are-so in a way she too was a part of Michelle and I meeting.

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We were blessed and thankful to spend time with Michelle’s family.  Not enough time of course since there are so many of them.  Thank you all for your warm hospitality!

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Most of the time in St. Louis, we enjoyed home cooked meals with family but on our final day we had decided to catch up with some friends and to dine out. We started with lunch, but before that, we visited a place where I had worked for over 3 years-Paul Mineo’s Trattoria, a beautiful Italian restaurant in Westport Plaza.

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While we only had a short time, as we were planning on meeting a friend elsewhere, we did have the pleasure of seeing Brigitte Mineo, the owner and her brother,  Michael Clark briefly.   It was while I was working at Paul Mineo’s about 6 years ago. that I first began conceptualizing my idea for both the tv show and my book, Getting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service.  I was very happy to reconnect with Brigitte and Michael after a handful of years. Michelle and I each enjoyed a glass of wine, courtesy of Brigitte, while  I shared with them about the progress of the book and the show.  They seemed genuinely happy for my growing success.

Next came lunch-unfortunately, my friend had to cancel at the last minute but I decided to still stick with our plan of eating lunch at Patrick’s (Formerly Pujol’s 5) also, in Westport. It would just be Michelle and me.  To say that we were disappointed is an understatement.

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First, the booths, all had torn upholstery.  We received a half-hearted greeting from someone who shouted to us from behind the bar as we walked in.  Our server was not very friendly, even seemed defensive when we told her that Michelle’s burger was not cooked properly.  She was pretty inattentive.  There were just too many things to even go into detail here.  Suffice to say, it was not even  an ok lunch.  I used to work there and I do know Patrick Jr. and Sr.  I expected it to be better than it was.  Unfortunately, neither one was in and the manager that did come to our table (Larissa-I think) was not very engaging and didn’t exhibit any care or concern for our disappointment.  She said, “I’ll let Patrick know.” Ok.  Well. Now I’m letting Patrick know here.  Actually, I did send Patrick a message via Linkedin upon our return to Las Vegas but as of yet, I have not received a reply.

 

Dinner that evening was much better, though.  Following our theme-ok, my theme of wanting to reconnect with people and restaurants that I had known when I lived in St. Louis, I made reservations for us at one of the places that I used to frequent when I lived in Maplewood-Acero.

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Every time I had eaten or drank at Acero, I was always warmly-not just greeted- but welcomed.  And the food and service were always excellent.  Acero, is part of the Fiala Food Group of restaurants in St. Louis, owned by Jim Fiala, which includes The Crossing and formerly Liluma and City Garden.  My friend, Adam Gnau is the chef at Acero.  I had the pleasure of interviewing him for my book earlier during the summer and he is referenced in it.  We were joined by our friends Lisa and Volkan for dinner.

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Acero occupies a beautiful old brick building on Manchester Blvd. in Maplewood. In fact, the word, Acereo means “Maple” in Italian. The decor is simple and beautiful.  The lighting and the music create a very pleasant and inviting ambience.  We were, as I was always used to-warmly greeted by the hostess upon our arrival.  Our server, did  a nice job explaining the menu and made some good suggestions for cocktails.

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While dinner service was good, what really set it apart for us, was Adam coming out and explaining many of the dishes to us.  For example he described a pasta dish called pece-which if one just read it on the menu you may not be too excited about it.  But he enthusiastically explained that, although simple in ingredients-   the flavor was amazing.  So, with that recommendation,we had to try it.  And when it was served to Michelle, and we all tried it, we all agreed-it was great!

The food was great-Michelle had her favorie-duck and she was quite pleased with it.  I loved the crudo and I can’t even remember what entree I had but I do know that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Overall, our dining experience at Acero was very good with the exception of our server holding our glasses at the top/on the rim when placing them on our table, rather than on the lower portion of the glass.  I politely pointed this out to her and asked for them to be switched out for clean ones.  After that point, I feel that she was not wanting to be as engaging as she had been at the outset.

A server may not want to be corrected on something they do but this is a very basic point of service that all servers especially in a place like Acero should be well aware of  and not need to be reminded of.  So, as a reminder, “The top half of the glass is mine (the guest), the bottom half of the glass is yours (server).” I also want to mention, Tom was very attentive when our server was at other tables and he helped maintain the right balance of attention.

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Though we had a wonderful time visiting family and friends for 3 days in St. Louis, we still had yet another destination on our journey…Kansas City.  So, the next morning, we loaded up the car once again, bid adieu to St. Louis and headed west.  This time we were off to visit Michelle’s son Greg and his wife, Megan.

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To BE CONTINUED…

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As always, thanks for reading.  I appreciate all my readers and your continued support!  Please Share on Social Media.  And I welcome all your comments.

My book-Getting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service is still available for special pre-order price of only $20.00!

If you have not yet pre-ordered your copy, I invite you to go to my website and do so today!!

http://www.christoffjweihman.com/my-book.html

God bless you all and Cheers!

Christoff J. Weihman

ASPIRE Enterprises

Las Vegas,  NV

 

Are You Creating Five Star First Impressions for Your Customers/Clients?

 

Welcome Back to SOUPFLY!!

The first impression that a person has of your business  is often determined within 5 minutes upon walking into your establishment.  What they see and experience sets the tone and the expectation they have for doing business with you.   What does it take to create a WOW! first impression?  Are you and your team consistently creating 5 Star first impressions for your clients, customers & prospects?  And if not, why not?

Today lets delve into this very crucial topic-

Creating 5 Star First Impressions in Your Business

If you are like many business owners, you may be spending tons of money on marketing and advertising-to announce to the marketplace about your business but are you taking advantage of your marketing success? Are you assuming that once they’ve been attracted to your business that they’ll spend money,  and become & remain a loyal customer?

True, advertising & marketing is what brings them in, makes them aware of you, and causes them to consider purchasing your product or service.  However, are  those marketing and advertising dollars that you are spending to get them in the door, or on the phone, or on your site, being wasted because you did not spend the same amount of time, care, attention and training on creating  that great first impression?  This happens all the time in industry after industry, business after business.

We must make the Service that we provide,  and the Experience that we deliver to our customers, as  more important, than the advertising hook that entices them to consider doing business with us.

How to Create a  5 Star First Impression

Before I share with you some thoughts on how to create a 5 Star First Impression, let me ask you a question-When does one make a first impression?  Is it when the customer or prospect first meets you?  Or is it when they walk into the reception area or the lobby of your business?  Is it when they call you on the phone?  Is it when they look on your company website or your business profile on Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook or other social media site?  The answer of course, is-yes, yes, yes & yes.

We must realize that oftentimes, a first impression is formed in the mind of the prospect or customer long before they even set foot in your place of business, long before you get the chance to meet them.

Things that Influence a First Impression

1.) Your Reputation in the Marketplace

What do other customers, (previous and current) say about your business?This can be ascertained through looking up online reviews on Yelp, Trip Advisor, Angie’s List, Sotellus, or other sites specific to your industry.  This can also come from the most powerful and cheapest in cost-(as in free) form of advertisement- W.O.M. or Word of Mouth Marketing.  What are those customers saying about you, your business, your staff, how easy it is to do business with you, how you treat your customers, the quality of your product or service?

Your competition-what do they say about you?  Most people who are honest will speak fairly about their competition even though they may not like you or feel happy about the share of the market that you command.  Unless one is in politics, a person generally is not going to make up lies about their competition. Does your competition speak highly of you, say you have integrity, admit that you have a decent product, that you treat your customers well?

Your employees-How do they feel about your company as a place to work?  Are people clamoring to get hired at your place of business?  Or do employees dread coming to work at your there? When you have an opening are you easily able to find qualified candidates or does said position remain vacant for long periods of time?

All of the above contribute to your reputation in the marketplace and can have an influence upon potential customers’ first impression of you and your business. However accurate or inaccurate those assumptions may be-there is a strong likelihood that a customer considering your company has been affected by some of these opinions of others.

2.)  Environment​​​​​​​
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We hear this in real estate all the time-‘location, location, location’.  This certainly has an impact upon a person’s mental perception and thereby their first impression of the business.  Are you located next to an empty lot and dilapidated old buildings? What does the front of the building look like?  What is the look and feel of the lobby? Is the lighting inviting?  Is the music, the decor etc. appropriate to the type of business?  What do these things combined make a person feel as they walk in?  If you are running a professional law office or dental clinic, for example, you probably don’t want to have super bright lights, extreme gaudy color schemes and hard core heavy metal or rap music playing.While all the things we mentioned so far can and do have an impact and influence upon a customer’s first impression-many of us are not the business owner and we don’t make the decisions on such things.  So, how can we affect a customer’s first impression?  The following are things that any one and everyone on the team/staff, regardless of position, can control.  You are the one who can greatly influence and either positively or negatively affect a customer’s first impression.

3.) Engagement– ​​​​​​​
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 When someone walks in to your place of business-Welcome them. In fact actually saying the word “Welcome” will make the person feel-welcome.  Do not be on your phone, looking down.  You should be looking forward, smiling, with expectancy. Don’t be more engaged in conversation with your co-workers that you make the customer wait until you finish your conversation.  This is not being welcoming.   It seems strange to me that people whose job it is to greet the customers or guests, are often looking down, unaware and seemingly surprised or taken a back when someone actually walks through the door.This is a place of business, right?  So, be prepared and don’t be surprised when a customer comes in the door.  As mentioned above, the environment, the exterior and interior of a business can contribute to a customer’s first impression, however, no matter how beautiful the decor, the ambience are, nothing trumps a friendly welcoming greeting from a live person to set the tone for a great first impression.

4.) Enthusiasm & Positive Energy​​​​​​​

When you greet & welcome your customers, have some positive energy in your voice.  Let them know and feel that you truly are happy to see them.  They are the ones who pay your salary-right? All too often customers are met with a very non-chalant, no energy, or low energy attitude by the one greeting them.  It shows that you wish you were somewhere else and that you really don’t care about the customer.  If you don’t enjoy what you do, maybe you should find a different job. This applies not only to greeting customers in person but also when answering the phone.  Be upbeat, act like you are happy that the customer called.  How you greet your customers/prospects has a huge impact on their first impression of the business.

5.) Your Appearance

Dress for Success-that may be a cliche-but it’s a true one. How you feel about yourself is going to affect how you engage with customers.  If you are at a place of business you ought to dress appropriately for where you work.  If you are the front desk manager at a local fitness center then athletic attire makes sense.  If you work in a hotel or restaurant, yoga pants might make you feel comfortable but probably aren’t appropriate for that environment.  Being well groomed and dressed for the business that you are in all add up to make a great first impression.

There are a myriad of other things that can influence a customer’s first impression. This is merely touching on a few. The important thing to note is that there are many things we all can do, regardless of our job or position to positively affect a customer’s first impression.  We all are the face of the business that we work at/for.

Thank you for Reading! I am very grateful for ALL my Soupfly readers from around the world!

I invite you to share on Social Media and please Like us on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/SoupFly-1438615929733655/

Please feel free to leave your comments below.

To Pre-order a copy of my book

I Am the Customer Experience, Engineering the Emotional Journey,

please click here:

http://iamthecustomerexperience.com/

Excellerating Customer Service to Five Stars & Beyond,

Christoff J. Weihman

ASPIRE Enterprises

Las Vegas, NV

702 848 8955

“Putting the Customer First”A Focus on Service Excellence

Welcome Back to Soupfly!!

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I recently returned from a quick trip to Orlando for the National Customer Service Association National Conference.  My time was so short and scheduled while in Orlando that I did not have a chance to go to Universal Studios, or Seaworld or Disneyland.  However, I will say that what I experienced at the conference had it’s own magic!

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I was blessed in a number of different ways at the Conference, but before I get to that let me start off by saying what a well run conference it was. The Team- from the National Office consisting of Bill and Diane Crutcher, and Ashley Ruggles, did a stand out job of organizing and putting on a flawless event. Also, the NCSA Team from Central Florida who hosted the event, led by President of Board of Directors, Wes Tindal were so hospitable, welcoming and helpful.  A very special commendation goes to Ashley who ran the behind the scenes.  She is, to me, the perfect example of  what 5 Star Customer Service Execution is all about.  I worked with her during the months leading up to the conference via email and phone calls and she absolutely made me feel like I was the only customer/speaker that she had to take care of at that moment. Then, at the conference she was organized, responsive, caring and incredibly helpful.  She was a one woman show.  Not to say that Bill and Diane didn’t also run things.  It’s just that Ashley took the bulk of the behind the scenes, so Bill & Diane could focus on what was happening on stage, so to speak.  Ashley is, as I understand, relatively new in her position but she truly understands Customer Care/Service.  So, my hat-fedora-is off to you Ashley!! Thanks for making this event a huge success!

Now, a word about Bill Crutcher, the President of the National Customer Service Association.  To know Bill is to know his Team. I know why Ashley is so great at what she does-because we tend to attract people like ourselves to our team, and Bill is one of those people who exudes hospitality, care and empathy.  I remember the first time we had a conversation on the phone, some months ago, when he invited me to be a speaker for this event. He has a warmth and a genuineness that is felt just as easily over the phone as when speaking with him in person.  He made me feel welcome and a special part of this event each time we communicated.  In fact,  I was truly eager to arrive at the Conference merely to meet Bill, and Ashley and other members of their team, including Diane-Bill’s wife.

I had hoped to arrive for early check-in on Sunday evening, but due to my flight being delayed (thanks Frontier Airlines) I was unable to.  When I finally got settled in my hotel room, opened my laptop and checked my email-here was an email sent at 8:35 pm from Ashley, stating how excited they all were and looking forward to meet me the next day.  WOW! To me, that is Customer Service.

When I arrived at the Conference the next day, the welcome and greeting in person was equally as warm and friendly from all three of them, Bill, Diane and Ashley. So, why am I sharing with you in such detail about such things?  Because something as seemingly small as an email, or how one greets a customer, or how they talk with them on the phone, all these contribute to what I call “Setting the Tone”.  That is establishing the tone of the communication, the connection between you and your customer.  Since I was an attendee and an invited speaker to this Conference, I was their Customer.  Setting the Tone creates  the first impression, the expectation in the mind of the customer. If we get that right from the start, then if any hiccups, speed bumps or Soupflies arise along the way, it is so much easier to deal with them effectively and still win back the customer.  Setting the Tone is one of the single most, if not THE Most important aspect of the Customer Service interaction.    So, I say “thank you and congratulations!” to Bill and his entire team from the NCSA for a great customer experience.

As for the location of the event and the level of customer service delivered by their team, I would say that it was a mixture of good, mediocre and poor service interactions. But since this post is not about that, I will leave the details of that information for another time.

Back to the Conference-I learned some new tools and strategies on Creating a Customer Service focused culture from the various speakers. I learned the importance of taking formulas and principles and boiling them down as Claudia Bogard, Customer Experience Director of the FAA, calls it. We heard from, and were inspired by a wide range of Customer Service Experts from a variety of organizations representing a multitude of industries.  The common thread in each presentation was how to learn what our customers’ not only need, but more importantly- what they want, and how to deliver that in  a positive customer interaction.

The breakout speakers that I had the privilege of listening to were, Kizzy Dominguez who presented about approaching Customer Service with the generations in mind. She spoke of how each generation of individuals, views customer service according to their own particular mindset and that to be effective we ought to use that as our lens when dealing with them. A very thought-provoking presentation. Thank you Kizzy!

I also, sat in the presentation of Gregg Baron, who taught us about creating more +1 Experiences and gave us an understanding of the 7 Basic aspects of Customer Service.  Another very interesting and useful perspective shared.  Thanks Gregg!  Next,

I learned from licensed hypnotherapist, Aimee Eipers, about how to manage stress and how it can affect the Customer Service experience. Such a very important and often overlooked topic.  Thanks for sharing Aimee!

Lastly, I was quite inspired by Steve Mayers, Director of Atlanta Airport. He shared insights of how he is leading his team to tranform Atlanta airport from a Customer Experience Management focus to a Guest Experience Management.  Central to his presentation was the idea that each of our customers, in his case-passengers, go through an emotional journey during every service experience.  It is our job as service professionals to recognize the emotions along that journey and ensure that there is a positive experience at each touch point.  I was so struck by the content of Steve’s talk that I asked him if he’d be open to allowing me to interview him for my 2nd book that I’m working on-I Am the Customer Experience. He did of course, oblige. So, sometime in the next couple weeks, I’ll be digging deep into that topic with him and gaining more insight that I can use for my 2nd book-I Am the Customer Experience.

I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to learn from so many wonderful, talented, knowledgeable Service Experts.  I also am very thankful for the connections I made with so many of the attendees and the potential opportunities to be invited to some of their organizations in the future to share about 5 Star Customer Experience from my perspective. I will share with you about those exciting upcoming events as we work out schedules and details.

As you might imagine, a huge highlight of the Conference for me was the honor and privilege of being one of the breakout speakers, myself. My presentation was entitled, “I Am the Customer Experience-Taking Ownership of the Service You Deliver & Creating a Culture of WOW!”  I presented twice on Tuesday to a full room each time. I brought the energy, the excitement and the content. Each group was engaged, participated and all gave me very positive feedback.  I would say it absolutely was a great success!! Thank you to all the attendees who sat in my presentation, for your positive energy, for participating and being open minded. This is a Show!

After my presentation, Bill, said that not only did he receive positive feedback from those who attended my session, but also, that many of them stated to him that they should have made me one of the keynote speakers.  There’s always next time Bill.

I did not get to stay for the closing of the Conference as I had a previously booked event to speak at on Wednesday evening. This was a celebration event for Make Up in the 702-one of the premiere hair and make up companies here in Las Vegas-that primarily services the wedding industry in Las Vegas.  Led by owner and founder, Megan Payne, they had recently hit a major milestone as a company of receiving 1000 positive customer reviews!  What an exceptional accomplishment!

Megan and I met earlier in the year when I was the keynote speaker at WIPA, Wedding Industry Professionals Association.  She was so touched and inspired by my presentation at WIPA that she invited me to share a few inspirational words with her team at this 1000 Reviews celebration.  For a company to receive 1000 reviews, they obviously must have a focus on the Customer Experience.

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As I spoke to them, I shared some of what I had recently learned at the NCSA Conference-that our customers are all on an emotional journey.  Whether they realize it or not, it is true.  This emotional journey may take place over months, days or just a few short hours.  As Hair & Make up professionals, I suggested to this group, that they do so much more than make their clients look beautiful.  They even do so much more than giving the brides confidence and drawing out the natural beauty that’s already there.  I suggested that they actually (both literally & figuratively) hold the hand of those brides as they go along this emotional journey. This journey may entail excitement, nervousness, sadness, introspection, peacefulness, joy and a whole myriad of other emotions.  In fact, as I was speaking, one of the women in the group began to tear up.  It was clear that what I was sharing was resonating.  Again, I was thankful for the privilege and opportunity to share some inspiring words with a group of Service Professionals.  Thank you Megan!!

We, as Service Professionals,-regardless of what industry we are in, must realize that we have the potential to make a powerful, positive impact on each of our clients, customers, guests every single day. We can choose to just go through the motions of our job, checking each task on the protocols/steps of service. Or we can choose to have a passion for Service and connect with the emotions of our customers and truly Serve them.   This is why I love Customer Service/Service & Hospitality.

 

Thank you for reading! I am so grateful for all my Soupfly Readers from around the world. This month we have had readers from the following countries:

United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Bahamas, Portugal, Philippines, Indonesia, South Africa, Canada, Germany, Pakistan, Italy, France, Mexico, Costa Rica, Russia, Kenya, New Zealand, Thailand, Bangladesh.

If you would like to order a copy of my book, Getting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service, please go to my website (US orders only):http://gettingtowowbook.com/

For orders outside the US, please refer to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Getting-WOW-Everybody-WINS-Service/dp/0692359192/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1464204727&sr=1-1&keywords=christoff+j.+weihman

Please follow, like, share and let’s connect on Social Media!

https://twitter.com/WeihmanChristof

Elevating Service & Hospitality,

Christoff J. Weihman

ASPIRE Enterprises

Las Vegas, NV

 

Creating 5 Star First Impressions for Your Customers

Welcome Back to SOUPFLY!!

 

The first impression that a person has of your business  is often determined within 5 minutes upon walking into your establishment.  What they see and experience sets the tone and the expectation they have for doing business with you.   What does it take to create a WOW! first impression?  Are you and your team consistently creating 5 Star first impressions for your clients, customers & prospects?  And if not, why not?

Today we want to delve into this very crucial topic-

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Creating 5 Star First Impressions in Your Business

 If you are like many business owners, you may be spending tons of money on marketing and advertising-to announce to the marketplace about your business but are you taking advantage of your marketing success? Are you just assuming that once they’ve been attracted to your business that they’ll spend money,  and become & remain a loyal customer?  True, advertising & marketing is what brings them in, makes them aware of you, and causes them to consider purchasing your product or service.  However, are  those marketing and advertising dollars that you are spending to get them in the door, or on the phone or on your site-being wasted because you did not spend the same amount of time, care, attention and training on creating  that great first impression?  This happens all the time in industry after industry, business after business.

We must make the Service that we provide, the Experience that we deliver to our customers, as important, if not more so, than the advertising hook that entices them to consider doing business with us.

How to Create a  5 Star First Impression

Before I share with you some thoughts on how to create a 5 Star First Impression, let me ask you a question-When does one make a first impression?  Is it when the customer or prospect first meets you?  Or is it when they walk into the reception area or the lobby of your business?  Is it when they call you on the phone?  Is it when they look on your company website or your business profile on Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook or other social media site?  The answer of course, is-yes, yes, yes & yes.

We must realize that oftentimes a first impression is formed in the mind of the prospect or customer long before they even set foot in your place of business, long before you get the chance to meet them.

Things that Influence a First Impression

1.) Your Reputation in the MarketplaceWhat do other customers, previous and current say about your business?  This can be ascertained through looking up online reviews on Yelp, Trip Advisor, Angie’s List, or other sites specific to your industry.  This can also come from the most powerful and cheapest in cost-(as in free) form of advertisement- W.O.M. or Word of Mouth Marketing.  What are those customers saying about you, your business, your staff, how easy it is to do business with you, how you treat your customers, the quality of your product or service?

Your competition-what do they say about you?  Most people who are honest will speak fairly about their competition even though they may not like you or feel happy about the share of the market that you command.  Unless one is in politics, a person generally is not going to make up lies about their competition. Does your competition speak highly of you, say you have integrity, admit that you have a decent product, that you treat your customers well?

Your employees-How do they feel about your company as a place to work?  Are people clamoring to get hired at your place of business?  Or do employees dread coming to work at your there? When you have an opening are you easily able to find qualified candidates or does said position remain vacant for long periods of time?

All of the above contribute to your reputation in the marketplace and can have an influence upon potential customers’ first impression of you and your business. However accurate or inaccurate those assumptions may be-there is a strong likelihood that a customer considering your company has been affected by some of these opinions of others.

2.)  Environment

We hear this in real estate all the time-‘location, location, location’.  This certainly has an impact upon a person’s mental perception and thereby their first impression of the business.  Are you located next to an empty lot and dilapidated old buildings? What does the front of the building look like?  What is the look and feel of the lobby? Is the lighting inviting?  Is the music, the decor etc. appropriate to the type of business?  What do these things combined make a person feel as they walk in?  If you are running a professional law office or dental clinic, for example, you probably don’t want to have super bright lights, extreme gaudy color schemes and hard core punk or rap music playing.

While all the things we mentioned so far can and do have an impact and influence upon a customer’s first impression-many of us are not the business owner and we don’t make the decisions on such things.  So, how can we affect a customer’s first impression?  The following are things that any one and everyone on the team/staff, regardless of position, can control.  You are the one who can greatly influence and either positively or negatively affect a customer’s first impression.

3.) Engagement– When someone walks in to your place of business-Welcome them. In fact actually saying the word “Welcome” will make the person feel-welcome.  Do not be on your phone, looking down.  You should be looking forward, smiling, with expectancy. Don’t be more engaged in conversation with your co-workers that you make the customer wait until you finish your conversation.  This is not being welcoming.   It seems strange to me that people whose job it is to greet the customers or guests, are often looking down, unaware and seemingly surprised or taken a back when someone actually walks through the door.  This is a place of business, right?  So, be prepared and don’t be surprised when a customer comes in the door.  As mentioned above, the environment, the exterior and interior of a business can contribute to a customer’s first impression, however, no matter how beautiful the decor, the ambience are, nothing trumps a friendly welcoming greeting from a live person to set the tone for a great first impression.

4.) Enthusiasm & Positive Energy-When you greet & welcome your customers, have some positive energy in your voice.  Let them know and feel that you truly are happy to see them.  They are the ones who pay your salary-right? All too often customers are met with a very non-chalant, no energy, or low energy attitude by the one greeting them.  It shows that you wish you were somewhere else and that you really don’t care about the customer.  If you don’t enjoy what you do, maybe you should find a different job.  This applies not only to greeting customers in person but also when answering the phone.  Be upbeat, act like you are happy that the customer called.  How you greet your customers/prospects has a huge impact on their first impression of the business.

5.) Your Appearance-Dress for Success-that may be a cliche-but it’s a true one. How you feel about yourself is going to affect how you engage with customers.  If you are at a place of business you ought to dress appropriately for where you work.  If you are the front desk manager at a local fitness center then athletic attire makes sense.  If you work in a hotel or restaurant, yoga pants might make you feel comfortable but probably aren’t appropriate for that environment.  Being well groomed and dressed for the business that you are in all add up to make a great first impression.

There are a myriad of other things that can influence a customer’s first impression. In fact, Ravi Shukle-Online Customer Service Expert from the UK, and I did an entire Blab Session on this very topic recently.  As a special treat I have added the video of our session below.  In it Ravi also shares some insights on making 5 Star First Impressions in the Online world.  I hope you enjoy watching.

Thank you for Reading! I am very grateful for ALL my Soupfly readers from around the world!  I invite you to share on Social Media.  Please feel free to leave your comments below.

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To order a copy of my book, Getting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service you may check out my website:

http://gettingtowowbook.com/

For my international (outside of the US) readers to order a copy please go to Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Getting-WOW-Everybody-WINS-Service/dp/0692359192/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1457570752&sr=1-1&keywords=christoff+j.+weihman

Elevating Service & Hospitality,

Christoff J. Weihman

ASPIRE Enterprises

Las Vegas, NV

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Service Excellence is Sprouting at Grape Vine Cafe Wine Bar & Cellar

WELCOME BACK TO SOUPFLY!

I hope you all had a pleasant Valentine’s Day Weekend!

This past weekend, Michelle and I discovered what we had been looking for for quite a while.  What is it?  A restaurant in our neighborhood that has good food and service, and decent prices.  A place that we could go for a happy hour, a glass of wine on the patio or for a nice romantic dinner.  We found all that and more at Grape Vine Cafe, Wine Bar & Cellar on Lake Mead in Summerlin, Las Vegas.

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Grape Vine was recently purchased by and is now under the operation of the team of Moeen Taqi and Linda Kutcher, both veterans of the Las Vegas Hospitality Scene. Unlike some restaurants where we’ve dined, where no management is present,  both Linda and Moeen, not only are present in house, they also walk the dining room, greeting the guests and taking time to ensure that both the food and service is up to par. It is so refreshing to see and experience this.  The positive energy that exudes from this couple is  so uplifting and if a patron were to come in after having a rough day, I would venture to guess that that person would leave with bouyed spirits from their interaction with Linda and Moeen.  The service team, likewise, seem to both enjoy their work, and care about the guest’s experience.  To me that trumps any Soupfly that may ever happen.

Michelle and I weren’t even really planning on going out on Saturday night since she was quite spent from 12 hours of working at the ICU. But a nice dinner out could be fun and relaxing, we both thought.  The problem-we didn’t want to go far, as in down to the strip, and none of  the choices in our neighborhood were really calling to us.  Both of us had heard recently that this place formerly known as Grape Street was now under new ownership and we both seemed to think of it at the same moment. “Let’s try Grape Vine”, we practically said in unison.  So, we pulled in, saw a number of guests enjoying the warm night on the enclosed patio, there was energy in the air and we thought that was a good sign.  These guests all appeared to be having a good time. We chose to dine inside and we were greeted in a friendly manner by Carly.

We  were seated and were filled with positive expectation.  Our Server, Rudy also was friendly and upbeat.  It was clear that he enjoyed his job.  In fact, we learned that he had been at this establishment for many years, first starting as a busser, and just recently promoted to a Server.  While there were a couple steps of service that show opportunities for improvement, overall it was a very pleasant experience.  And when a couple things were just not quite right, not only did Rudy fix them, here was Moeen at our table to ensure that everything was flowing well.

Both Linda and Moeen came by our table a few times and told us a bit about their backgrounds in the Hospitality business. There was an excitement in their voices as they spoke, and smiles on their faces.   It is evident that they have a passion for the industry and they care about their guests’ experience.  I am quite confident that Grape Vine is going to grow and flourish with this energetic, focused, positive spirited couple leading the way.  It also rubs off on the staff.  The ones that we engaged with, our server, Rudy; Carly-the Hostess, and one other gentleman from the kitchen, (sorry didn’t get his name) all carry themselves in a manner that says they enjoy what they do.

 

At the end of our dinner, we had a conversation with Linda about Michelle’s challenge of not being able to find gluten free bread at most restaurants. Linda offered a sample package of breadsticks for us to take home and try. She said she would like to get feedback from people who actually on a gluten free diet, before they serve them in the restaurant.  Also,  Grape Vine serves both gluten free pasta and pizza.  They serve over 40 wines by the glass, they have a retail wine cellar and a puppy friendly patio.  With warm weather already hitting here in Las Vegas, I can envision, Michelle and me and our puppy babies spending many relaxing afternoons at Grape Vine.

If you live in Las Vegas, I highly recommend that you give Grape Vine a try.  If you are visiting and you would like to experience a place with a great food and service, a pleasant inviting ambience, and be catered to by a warm and hospitable staff, then the 20 minutes drive from the Las Vegas Strip will be well worth it.  And tell them that Christoff from Soupfly sent you there!

7501 W Lake Mead Blvd #120
Las Vegas, NV 89128
702-228-9463

For more information here is their Website:http://grapevinevegas.com/

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Thank you for reading! I am so grateful for all my Soupfly Readers from 108 countries around the world! I invite you to leave your comments below. If you enjoyed this please Share on Social Media!

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If you would like to order a copy of my book, Getting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service-please visit our website:

http://gettingtowowbook.com/

For our international readers (outside of the United States) please visit Amazon to place your orders:

http://www.amazon.com/Getting-WOW-Everybody-WINS-Service/dp/0692359192/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455721360&sr=1-1&keywords=christoff+j.+weihman

Cheers!

Elevating Service & Hospitality,

Christoff J. Weihman

ASPIRE Enterprises

Las Vegas, NV

http://gettingtowowbook.com/

Happy New Year from Soupfly!!

Happy New Year 2016!  AND Welcome back to Soupfly!

We’ve been away for a while but now we are back and  filled with a renewed excitement, enthusiasm and positive energy for the New Year.  I hope that you are as well.  We had a fantastic fun time over the Holidays, lots of dining out and drinking out, celebrating with family, friends and business associates.   Lots of meeting wonderful restaurant managers and industry professionals.

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I am very grateful for all the amazing people that I met in the course of my Big December Goal-so many managers with open hearts and open minds. I say open hearts because many of them, when I mention that we donate a portion of our sales to Three Square LV (our local foodbank) they immediately are interested in purchasing a copy of my book, Getting to WOW!  I say open minds, because many of them desire to learn more about how to improve their customer service.

Although we did not hit our goal of selling 200 copies, we did sell 67 copies in December.  For every copy we donate $3.00 to Three Square and they stretch every dollar to provide 3 meals for the food insecure people in our community.  AND for the month of December they had matching funds, which means that our check that we presented will actually be double.  We were blessed to be able to give $312.00 which doubled equals $624.00!! Multiply that times 3 meals/ dollar and that equals 1872 meals!! And my target goal was to sell enough books that we would provide 1800 meals.  So, with the matching funds, we actually surpassed our goal!!!

So, I must say thank you to each one of you that bought a copy or two or three or more of my book, Getting to WOW! in the month of December-you are the reason that we were successful in reaching our goal! Thank you and may you be blessed.  In addition, I do know that you will be blessed, inspired and motivated as you read Getting to WOW! and begin to apply what you learn.  The principles therein will truly help you and your team to elevate your level of Service and Hospitality.

End of the Year Update

So, here we are at the start of a New Year.  2016.  I don’t know how 2015 was for you.  For me it was amazing. It was a year of many firsts. 2015 saw the start of me becoming a published author, with the release of my first book, Getting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service.  I started my company, ASPIRE Enterprises, a Service and Hospitality Training and Consulting company.  I had the great privilege and opportunity to begin sharing the message and the principles of WOW! Service and Hospitality. It started small-first through our free seminars. I am reminded of the words of one of my mentors, Brendon Burchard, who says “Never let your small business keep you small minded.”

Next, we began to get hired by locally owned restaurants and corporate establishments. I was given the opportunity to speak at the Bartenders Union for 4 classes twice this year to a total of about 300 bar professionals.  That was really a fun experience.   And then, after 6 months of meetings and waiting, we had the amazing opportunity to train the front of the house staff at Rivea and Skyfall, the newest restaurant and lounge at the top of Mandalay Bay.  The team was filled with excitement and enthusiasm.  This group really wanted to learn and they knew that they have an incredible gift to be chosen to work at this amazing new Alain Ducasse restaurant. It was a wonderful experience.

A few weeks later we were invited to the Grand Opening.  What a joy to experience the upbeat positive attitude and welcome of the staff who are putting into practice the principles of WOW!  When we returned to Rivea in November,  to celebrate our anniversary we were again equally impressed with our experience.  Rivea and Skyfall have some of the highest customer satisfaction scores of all the MGM properties in Las Vegas.  I am humbled and excited to have played a small  part in that.

We also did a presentation for about 30 of the F & B Executive/Management Team of Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, which was very well received.   I was delighted and humbled by that opportunity.  We are looking forward to being of service and bringing value to them on a larger scale in 2016.

Goals for 2016   

2015 was truly a wonderful year.  Now it’s over.  Time to start fresh. So, how about you, do you have grand plans, lofty ambitions, great big goals for 2016?  For yourself personally?  If you have not yet planned your year and set down your goals on paper, I strongly encourage you to do so.  An idea in your head is not a goal.  Even a strong intention is not a goal.  And you can’t achieve goals if you don’t have a plan.  So, do yourself a favor and take some time this week, before you get to far along into your regular routine and schedule.  Figure out what you desire for this year. Write it down. Make some plans. Take some action.  If you plan to finally write that book, go buy yourself a nice notebook and set a time to sit down and begin writing.  Just start. Whatever your goal is -take some action toward accomplishing it. And stick to it.  That’s for yourself personally.  How about for your business?

If you work in the Service and Hospitality industry-what are your goals for 2016?  If you are a restaurant owner, manager or F & B Executive-what are your grand plans for this year?  Are you just going about ‘business as usual’ and hoping that this year will be better than last?

Rise Above the Competition this Year

 

How are you going to stand out from the competition this year?  What are you going to do to rise above the rest?  There are new restaurants opening up all the time.  Sadly, though there are new restaurants closing down all the time.  This is an insanely competitive industry.    May I suggest, that you must have a plan, a strategy, for delivering Service and Hospitality at an elevated level than what you have been.

One of the main reasons that many, even most businesses, DO NOT deliver 5 Star or WOW! Service is because they have no plan or strategy.  Are you merely hoping that your staff provides 5 Star Service? It’s not going to happen by accident. Or maybe it will. But it won’t be consistent.  Is that what you want for your business?

Management Makes the Difference

My wife, Michelle and I did a lot of dining out over the past month and a half and I’ll tell you we saw the full gamut of types of service.  We experienced the good and the bad and a lot of the mediocre.  Not good, not bad.  Just ok.  We had experiences at establishments where the managers were helping man the host stand, bussing tables, greeting guests, touching tables.  So, refreshing to see and experience.  Then, we went to many places where no manager was to be found.  On a very busy night during the holiday season.  No visible manager presence. This is all too common.  My friends, it all starts at the top.  If the manager doesn’t care and is too busy doing paperwork, sitting in the office, then how would they expect their staff to care?

We’ve been to some places recently where there was a change in management and it made a visible difference in the service, the quality of food, the attitude of the staff and the overall experience.

Let’s make 2016 the year that you plan for your business success by planning for your Service and Hospitality.  Want business to grow?  Elevate the level of Service and Hospitality and they will come. You want increased revenue?  Happy customers who feel welcome from the moment they walk in the door until the moment thy leave will often stay longer and spend more.  And next time they come back they will bring people with them. They will market for you.

Do you want happy, engaged, loyal employees?  If so, then, provide training for them to them to be equipped to deliver higher levels of service and hospitality. Rather than just telling and expecting them to do better, you must lead the way as a servant leader.  Set the example.  If you invest in your staff, in training and providing the tools they need to do their job better, they will perform better.  They will care more.  They will feel like you are all in this together.  And you are.

It’s your choice.  You can decide right now at the beginning of the year to make this the year that you and your team rise above the competition.  Become the best you can be.  Make 2016 the year you consistently WOW! your customers.  5 Star Service will lead to 5 Star Reviews, which will lead to increased business, increased profits, increased exposure, etc. Let this be you goal.

My goal is to be of service and bring value to as many of you that are interested, open and willing.

ASPIRE Enterprises stands for Advancing Service Performance, Inspiring Restaurant Excellence.  That’s what we do.  Inspire, Motivate and Equip People to Passionately Deliver WOW! Service.

Let me know if I may be of service. It would be my honor and privilege to work with you and your team and bring WOW! Service and Hospitality Training to you.

By the way, I have been invited to be a guest speaker for the annual convention of the National Association of Customer Service in Orlando, this May.  And in February, I’ll be the guest speaker for the Las Vegas chapter of the Wedding Industry Professionals Association. Getting to WOW! is not just for restaurants.  It’s going to be a spectacular year.

I wish you all the best!!

Thank you for reading! I am so grateful for all my Soupfly readers from around the world.   Please Like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SoupFly-1438615929733655/

Follow me on Twitter @WeihmanChristof, Connect with me on Linkdin, Hit the Follow button below, Share on social media AND please share your Comments below. I enjoy hearing your feedback!

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To order your copy of my book,  Getting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service please go here: http://gettingtowowbook.com/

For my Soupfly readers outside of the U.S. who would like to  order a copy, please visit Amazon in your respective country or go here:

http://www.amazon.com/Getting-WOW-Everybody-WINS-Service/dp/0692359192/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452029553&sr=1-1&keywords=christoff+j.+weihman

Cheers!

Elevating Service and Hospitality,

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Christoff J. Weihman

ASPIRE Enterprises

Las Vegas, NV

702 848 8955

 

 

 

 

Essential Elements of Service and Hospitality Success

WELCOME BACK TO SOUPFLY!

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Happy April 1st Everyone!

It is hard to believe that the first quarter has already whizzed by.  The signs of spring are all around us-at least here in Las Vegas.  I hope all of you are staying focused on the goals and plans you set for 2015 and still endeavoring to make 2015 your best year yet.  Stay focused, inspired and disciplined!

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Today I want to share with you about a restaurant that is doing things right, Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar, here in Las Vegas.  Elements, now under new ownership and management, brands itself as a ‘fine casual dining’ establishment.  Michelle and I have been here a couple times in the past but on one of our previous visits-some months ago-a staff member blew out the candle right in front of us at 8:45 pm, saying, “You’re still welcome to stay, we’re just getting things ready to close by 9.”   Even if verbally that person’s words said ‘you’re welcome’, her actions were clearly communicating the opposite.  I am happy to report that things are progressively improving in so many ways at Elements since new management has been in place.

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On our recent visit, Michelle, Melissa and I came in for dinner and it was such a refreshing, welcoming experience that I almost immediately was wanting to return again-soon.  And we did-not too long after-just to have a couple drinks one evening.  But first let me share about our dinner experience of a couple weeks ago.

At Elements, because it is such a small establishment-(I think there may be 10 or 12 tables in the whole place), they have no need for a host or host stand.  When one opens the door to enter-they are quickly greeted verbally by either a bartender or a server standing nearby.  And then within a few seconds-a server will approach and greet and welcome the guest.  On this occasion, we were promptly seated and given our menus.  Currently they have a martini list of 500-yes, 5 Hundred different martinis!  There’s vodka martinis, gin martinis, tequila martinis, rum martinis and whiskey martinis. I think that’s all. Soon, however, they will be phasing out the 500 martinis because truly it takes guests a long time to look through that big of a cocktail list to make a decision. And according to the GM, keeping inventory of the items needed to make all those drinks is ridiculously expensive and wasteful.  Some of you may think that’s awesome-500 martinis, but do not be dismayed that they are phasing it out. They have something even better that’s going to take the place of that. I will reveal what that is later.

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Back to our dinner experience-AS we were contemplating our drink order-we noticed that one of the owners-whom we had met previously-Herb, was glancing over our way.  Once we made our drink order-each of us a different martini, one vodka, one whiskey and one gin, we began to consider our food options.  Thankfully, Elements does not have 100 appetizer and salad options and 150 meat and seafood choices!  They have a very simple basic menu.  Holly, their Chef does a great job!  She has actually come to our table to talk with us, 2 out of the last 3 times that we dined there.

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Allow me to share with you three E’s that I believe Elements are doing a great job at:

Elements gets an A on these 3 Es Essential to Service and Hospitality Success

1. Engaging the Guests-We experienced this from every member of the team and it all began with Herb, the owner coming over to our table.  He said he recognized me-I don’t think he remembered that we had met a few months back when they first took over the place. But whether he thought I looked familiar or not-is irrelevant. He was so engaging to the three of us at the table. He is warm and friendly and I kind of felt like we were at a dinner party at his home.  The welcome was so refreshing. I also noticed throughout our dinner, that Herb would visit  patrons at the bar, stopping and talking with one couple for a few minutes and then moving down the length of the bar. I didn’t see if he greeted every single person, but I assume that he probably did.

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Soon after-Herb coming to our table, the General Manager, Jim, came to greet us, and if I remember correctly, he brought our drinks to the table.  Jim, also, was such a pleasure to meet.  He is the kind of person that should be running a restaurant-and thankfully he is-at Elements. He’s kind, friendly, genuinely caring for the guests.

Our Server, also, was very engaging, pleasant and upbeat.  What she lacked in training (as in she was not familiar with the proper manner of presenting and opening wine) she made up for with her engaging personality.   Now of course it is important for a server to know such things-but that can be taught.  A positive, upbeat, engaging personality is not usually something that is as easily taught.

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In my book, Getting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service-I talk about the importance of setting the tone. The greeting, the welcome and the seating of the guests is so vital to the success of the dining experience. When a guest is warmly greeted and made to feel welcome from the start, if something happens to go wrong during the course of their meal, it is so much easier to get past the Soupfly.  Guests will be more forgiving and understanding.  The service staff will not feel so awkward because they’ve established that rapport.  It’s kind of like going to a friend’s house compared to being at a stranger’s house and you have an accident.  Maybe you spill a glass of wine.  If you do this at a friend’s house-it’s not a good thing but it’s not terrible.  However, if you are at a stranger’s house and this happens, it is an awkward situation for everyone.  Accidents, or mishaps or Soupflies do happen and always will happen periodically in this business or any other, but if the guest/customer/client feels that sense of welcome-it’s as if nothing can tarnish that relationship. You just deal with/fix the problem and move on.

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As you know, Michelle and I tend to dine out often.  We have our own list of 10 criteria that we rate a restaurant on-and one of them is Management.  I tell you that unfortunately, it is more common for the manager or owner  to NOT Engage their guests than to Engage.  It seems that they often only come over if there is a problem or a complaint.  In Industry lingo it’s called “touching tables”. Part of a manager’s responsibilities is to constantly be touching tables.  A manager may not realize how important that is but I will tell you-the more often you do it and consistently, the more your guests are going to want to return.  Everybody that comes into your establishment wants to be treated like they’re special.  That few minutes that you stop at a table just to say hi to your guests, to ask how they are enjoying their food and drink, makes such a positive impact on your guests.

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2. Energy & Enthusiasm-Every single staff member we met on our recent visit to Elements exuded positive energy.  From our Server, to the Owner, the General Manager, the Busser, the Bartenders and the Chef.  There was a buzz of positive energy that was palpable.  There was a sense of excitement in the air.  No one had that negative, blah energy that we have all encountered from time to time at a restaurant.  This new ownership/management have breathed new life into this place.  When we had been there on previous occasions the staff were all talking about how there was such a feeling of uncertainty.  Now, yes there are changes that have happened and more to come but it seems that all the staff are on board and hopeful for the future.  This positive energy is readily felt and picked up by the guests.  It makes one feel happy that they are there.  I’ll tell you that such positive energy has such an impact on a person’s dining experience that it actually makes the food taste better.  Not to say the food is not good at Elements-it is -and it keeps getting better.

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I’d like to quote from my book, my friend Michael Balabon, said this in Getting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service:

“There is a commonality between the excitement people feel when they are seeing a show or a concert, and the excitement they feel about having dinner at a new restaurant or their favorite eatery.”

That’s the feeling that you should strive to make your guests feel when they come into your place of business, whether it be a restaurant or another type of establishment.  And Elements is succeeding on this element of Service & Hospitality.

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3. Execution-The actual effective carrying out of a plan, bringing something into fruition, doing the thing properly.  Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar does a lot of things right, not the least of which is their execution at the bar side of the establishment.  Allow me to introduce to you, Alex and Jeffery-two individuals who are masters at their game, who were recruited away from a very prestigious venue on the Las Vegas strip to join the team at Elements and to run their beverage operation.  These two gentlemen, do not just make drinks, nor do they just craft cocktails.  I would call them Genius (I refrained from using the term ‘mad’) Scientists of Spirits or Wizards of Mixology.   To watch them work is quite a treat, not to mention having the pleasure of then enjoying their creation.  These two, take such care and attention to first, doing a guest inquiry-finding out what flavors the guest likes and doesn’t like.  They even ask what cocktails one typically drinks.  After this brief, yet in depth information gathering, the inspiration begins to stir until you hear them exclaim-“I got it.”  Or “Alright, I know what I’m gonna do.” Or some similar phrase.

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Then, they begin formulating a plan, taking their mixing tumbler from spot to spot as they pull down bottle after bottle off the shelves, putting a bit of this and a bit of that-and sometimes a lot of this and a little of that-sometimes using as many as 7 or 8 or more ingredients in one cocktail.  Other times I’ve seen them grab multiple bottles of liquor and liquers and other liquids and line them up on the bar in front of the guest, explaining what certain things are and then creating the drink right there on the bar in front of the guest.  It’s so exciting to watch their eyes light up as they are taking their idea-the inspiration for a drink and then executing it with precision and care.

We could all learn a lot from Alex and Jeffery about passion, attention and focus on details, creativity, guest engagement and effective execution of plan.  Not to mention improvising.  Alex was in the middle of creating a drink for me, and when I mentioned that I’ve recently started to enjoy Negronis-he slammed on the brakes and said-“Now I really know what to make you.”  Apparently it was completely different from his original plan of a few seconds ago. I can’t tell you what was in it.  But I will say it was better than any Negroni or semblance of a Negroni I’ve ever had.

It may seem that I’m spending so much time talking about making cocktails.  That’s not the point.  It’s refreshing to see a team of people who enjoy what they do, are friendly and Engaging to the guest/customer; who exude such upbeat positive Energy and who take time, care and attention for proper Execution of their work.

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In my book, Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar get an A on these 3 Es that are Essential to Service and Hospitality Success.

Oh, I almost forgot. You’re probably wondering what they are going to replace the list of 500 Martinis with?  I told you that it would be something much better.  Well they’ve already done it.  What’s better to have a guest wade through this daunting, overwhelming abundance of choices of drinks, with such difficulty to decide OR to have to engaging individuals like Alex and Jeffery who can make a perfect drink, tailored, catered and created especially for you based upon a few simple questions of your preferences?  I think we all know the answer to that one.  And by the way-I know that these two guys can create not just 500, but unlimited number of one of a kind cocktails.

 

If you live in Vegas or find yourself here on a visit, I highly recommend that you drop by Elements for some dinner and a cocktail.  Or two.  You will be pleased that you did.  And if you see Michelle and me-if we happen to be there at the same time, come by and introduce yourself.  We’d love to meet you.

Elements Kitchen and Martini Bar is located at the Center at Spanish Trail, 4950 S. Rainbow in Las Vegas.

http://elementskitchenandmartinibar.com/

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Thank you for reading.  I so appreciate all of my readers.  We are continuing to add to our worldwide readership.  We are very close to having Soupfly followers from 70 countries!  How exciting!  Please feel free to Like and Share on Social Media.  I welcoe all your comments.

I wish you all continued Success.  Keep focused and inspired to pursue your goals and dreams, making 2015 your best year yet!

God Bless You and Cheers!

May you all have a blessed Holy Week and a Happy Easter!

To order your signed copy of my book, Getting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service, go here and order today! :

http://www.gettingtowowbook.com/

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Christoff J. Weihman

ASPIRE Enterprises

Las Vegas, NV

 

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Honey Salt & Hrair (Two Great Examples of Service & Hospitality Excellence)

 

WELCOME BACK TO SOUPFLY!

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First I want to start by introducing you all to someone who truly understands Service & Hospitality.  No, this person is not the owner of the newest, hot restaurant on the strip.  Nor is this person a Michelin starred chef.  This person is not the most amazing server or bartender I’ve ever met.  In fact, this person doesn’t technically work in the Service & Hospitality industry.  I want to introduce you to Hrair-pronounced “ha-riah”.   Hrair, is the owner of Park Avenue Drycleaners in Summerlin, Nevada.  That’s right he’s my dry cleaner.

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This is a guy who gets what I talk about in my book.  He understands about the importance of the greeting.  Even if he is in the back pre-occupied momentarily, he will acknowledge the customer standing at the front and tell them that he’ll be right there.  He always is smiling, and sometimes, I believe that I’ve heard him singing as he comes to the counter.  He has an unassuming demeanor,  a pleasant personality and a positive attitude about him.  Yes, he’s my dry cleaner.  Yes, my interaction with him is just for a few minutes once a week but I can tell you it is so refreshing to be a customer of someone like Hrair.

What else makes him so special?  For one thing, he is very accommodating.  What do I mean by that? Well, just as in how I order when I eat in a restaurant, yes, I do make modification requests, so too, I do the same, even when I go to the dry cleaners.  I don’t like the metal hangers that dry cleaners use. Rather than transferring my dry cleaned clothes when I get home to my own plastic hangers- I just bring them to Hrair when I drop off my clothes.  What else?  I don’t like the plastic that covers the clothes.  So, I request no plastic on my clothes.  Hrair, smiles, and says “yes” every time.  I know that my special requests probably takes him a bit more time to do my clothes.  But never once has he grumbled or complained-at least not to me.

Upbeat, positive, friendly, personable, accommodating-what more could one want in  a service provider?  Hrair is a true example of Service & Hospitality Excellence.  We can all learn from his simple yet effective example.  Oh, and he takes pride in his work.  How do I know this?  Because he asks me if I was happy with the way he did my clothes.  I don’t think any other dry cleaner that I’ve ever met has done this.  But you see, Hrair, cares about his work and about his customer’s satisfaction.

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If any of my readers live in Las Vegas, and specifically the Summerlin area-I highly recommend that you give Hrair and Park Ave. Cleaners a try.  You will be very happy meeting and bringing business to this gentleman.

 

This past week my wife, Michelle and I have enjoyed two great dinners out-both at favorite restaurants of ours.

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First, on Friday night, we dined at -Honey Salt in Summerlin.  Honey Salt is a farm to table style restaurant.  The staff there are friendly, upbeat and welcoming.  The owner-Kim Canteenwalla actually wrote a nice endorsement for my book a few months ago and provided some great content for the chapter entitled Getting to Know Your Guests.  Michelle and I both consider the octopus at Honey Salt to be the best we’ve had.  We’ve even had octopus at some finer establishments on the Las Vegas strip but none compare with the tenderness and taste of Honey Salt’s octopus.

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Our server, Travis was very friendly, enthusiastic and knowledgeable.  He knew his wines and did a wonderful job presenting, decanting and pouring.  His team was helpful and we didn’t have to ask for anything except a serving spoon for the appetizer.  Michelle enjoyed the scallops-easily one of the best things on the menu.  For my entree I had the baked cod.  It was so moist and flavorful. Very enjoyable.  Travis always made sure that he was at our table within seconds of a course being served, to ensure that we were enjoying everything.  My only suggestion for improvement is that sometimes the runners would auction the food rather than knowing which of us ordered what-and they don’t always make it a priority to serve ladies first.

We always have a great dinner or brunch at Honey Salt.  The ambience and decor are very appealing, the seats-especially the booths are very comfortable.  The management staff are engaging.  The food and service are excellent.  My only question for you, my readers, is-if you live in Vegas and you have not yet made your way to Honey Salt-why not?  You absolutely must treat yourself and go-You will be very happy that you did.  In fact, we are having a Getting to WOW! and Giving Back Mega Book Launch Brunch on Sunday, March 22 at Honey Salt from 10:30 am to 2:00 pm.  Here is the link with the information.  Please come and Join us!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1588075888077284/

Our next Getting to WOW! and Giving Back Mega Book Launch Event will be Monday, March 16 at Fleming’s Townsquare from 4:30-6:30pm.  We are partnering with Three Square-Southern Nevada’s local food bank for all of our Book Launch events.

Our Goal is to raise $1000.00 for Three Square.  Thus far we’ve only hit about $200.00 of our goal.

YOU CAN HELP-We invite you to come to our events and not only support this new author-me, but to also help contribute to Three Square.

If you live in Las Vegas-please join us on March 16 at Fleming’s and on March 22 at Honey Salt.

https://www.facebook.com/events/744442549005397/

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If you don’t live in Las Vegas and you wish to contribute-you may purchase a copy of Getting to WOW!-for $25.00-$3.00 of which will be donated to Three Square.

http://www.gettingtowowbook.com/

If you would like to contribute additionally, please message me and we will explain how to make that happen.

You may email me at: Christoff@ASPIRE2WOW.COM

And of course the team of Blau & Associates-Kim Canteenwalla and Elizabeth Blau, opened their newest  and much anticipated Andiron Steak and Sea yesterday in Downtown Summerlin.  Like many of our Las Vegas friends, Michelle and I are eager to dine at Andiron.  I know it’s going to be amazing!

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I’ll tell you about our other great dinner from last weekend in my next post.

Thank you all for reading.  I invite you to like our Facebook page and to Share on Social Media.

Soupfly continues to add readers from new countries!  We want to welcome new readers from Andorra, Sierra Leone and Tunisia!!

God bless you all and Cheers!

I hope you are all still focused on making 2015 your best year yet!

Christoff J. Weihman

ASPIRE Enterprises

Las Vegas, NV

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