How Much is the Value of one Customer to You and Your Business?
The Sunday before Christmas, my wife, Michelle and I went for brunch after church service. We were indecisive about where to go. We ended up at a place that previously had been one of our favorites, not only for brunch but for dinner and happy hours. We started going to this restaurant shortly after it opened which was just about the same time we arrived in Las Vegas-6 years ago.
This restaurant had a warm, inviting and comfortable ambience. The food is ‘farm to table’ and always delicious and not boring. The staff and management were friendly, approachable and typically delivered good, if not great service.
Over the course of a few years, we had dined there, just the two of us, brought family when visiting from out of town, had dinner and met friends for drinks, and even had one major event (my first book launch) there. We became friends with both staff and management. How many times did we dine there over the first few years this restaurant was open? Hard to say. But I know it was a lot. How many people did we refer to this place? Too many to begin to count. People know that Michelle and I dine out often and friends are always asking us for our recommendations of great restaurants. So, what is the point of all of this? Well, when we went for brunch that Sunday before Christmas, it actually was the first time that we had been back to this restaurant in 2 years.
What happened? As always happens in restaurants, people move on. It is inevitable. The managers and staff that we had come to know so well, left one by one. As the familiar ones left, we felt more and more like strangers when we would come in to dine because although we’d been coming for years, the new staff and management didn’t know us. And it seemed they didn’t make an effort to know us. We no longer felt the same welcome. The energy and culture of the place seemed to not be the same as before. This is not something that is easily identifiable. But when a customer ‘feels’ that it’s not the same, it has a powerful affect upon them.
We came back a couple more times but it was just different. Then, one day we came in for brunch and a staff member who had previously been a server now had been promoted to manager. There were a few problems with our order. We brought it to the manager’s attention and this person’s response was rude, disrespectful, and uncaring. This person was not interested in fixing the problem or making us, the customer- feel good about our experience. The manager was actually argumentative with us. That was it. It really was an awful experience. We left knowing that we may never be back again. As I said, that was 2 years ago.
Imagine how many times over the course of that time we chose to dine elsewhere. Imagine how many times when someone at the hospital where my wife works asked her for a restaurant recommendation that she DID NOT mention this place.
The lifetime value of a customer, client, guest, is often much greater than what is lost or gained at one particular transaction/interaction. I’m using a restaurant here as an example but this applies to any type of business. This is why Customer Service and the Customer’s Experience must be paramount in the mind of every staff/team member.
Do you realize that one team member’s negative attitude, poor response, rude answer etc. can potentially cause a customer to NEVER come back again? In our situation, although there were problems with our food, and our dining experience, nothing was beyond fixable or unforgivable, until we had the interaction with the recently promoted, poorly trained manager. That one person’s way of dealing with us clinched it. In a bad way.
When we returned for the first time, recently, we felt welcome from the moment we stepped in the door. And guess what? The staff was mostly, if not all, NEW. But their attitude, their energy, the positivity was once again in the air. We didn’t feel like strangers. The manager came over and brought her card to us. She stopped by our table a couple times during our dining experience.
So, let’s bring this out of the realm of hypothetical and put some actual numbers on this situation. I posed a question at the very beginning. What is the value of one customer to you and your business? Or let’s ask it this way. If you lose just one customer, how much will that cost your business?
When Michelle and I dine out it’s pretty common that we might spend the following:
Happy Hour: up to $100.
Brunch up to $150.
Dinner up to $200.
Of course that’s just for the two of us, obviously it would be more if we were dining with family or friends. So, let’s consider, if we have a favorite restaurant we might do the following:
Happy Hour- 3 X per month= $300.00
Brunch 1 X per month=$150.00
Dinner 1 X per month=$200.00
Let’s say we don’t frequent that location that often every month. But what if we do 7 months out of the year. 7 X $650= $4,550.00
So, this one location lost a minimum of $4,500. a year from us not coming in. Now what about the times we would have come in with a group of friends, or when family is visiting from out of town and we didn’t take them to dine there? That is easily another $1000. or more. So, now we’re up to $5,500. plus. Throw in a birthday party with family and that’s another $1000.00. That’a a total of lost revenue of $6,500.00
But the amount that is impossible to calculate is the number of people who we did not recommend the restaurant to. These are people who would have come and maybe even become regular guests, but because they were not referred, or even worse, they were specifically told not to go there, the restaurant lost out of countless thousands of dollars.
I hope you can see that one customer is worth so much more than what they may be spending at your place of business just today. And one staff or team member can have such a powerful impact on your customers. The question is, will that impact be positive or negative?
Is your team, your staff and management well equipped, well trained, empowered and inspired to deliver Five Star Service to every customer every time? If not, your business could be suffering and you may not even know who is not coming back because of one not so positive interaction.
I encourage you to make 2019 the year that you make Customer Service & the Customer Experience the Number 1 Priority in your business. Are you putting a proper amount of time, effort, energy, money and training to ensure that this is a major priority?
Thank you for reading. I appreciate and value all my Soupfly Readers from all over the world.
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Cheers and God Bless you!
Christoff J. Weihman
Las Vegas, NV
Happy December. There’s a bit of a coolness in the air, ugly sweaters and elves on shelves are everywhere and we know that we are well into the Holiday Season. Yes, it’s that wonderful festive, joyous, stressful, happy, (depressing-for some) time of year-the Holiday Party Season for the restaurant and service industry. Many businesses in the service industry do the largest percentage of their year’s business over the two and a half to three months, from November til early January.
This time of year is a huge revenue generator for most in the Hospitality Industry. This is the time of catered office parties, large family reunions and get-togethers, special romantic dinners, and huge corporate events. If you work in any type of restaurant or bar-you know that these 2-3 months are super busy and crazy. You also know that you can expect to make a lot more money than during other slower months-like August.
Unfortunately for the customer, sometimes these large parties, group dinners and special events don’t always receive the best of attention, care and concern that they ought.
Ensuring 5 Star Hospitality for Your Holiday Parties
Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind to ensure that you are truly delivering WOW! / Five Star Service & Hospitality at all the holiday parties and events you host and serve.
First, I’m going to address something that needs to be stated. All of these holiday parties, group dinners etc., because they have a certain number of people-6 or more-the gratuity is already included. It is what we call in industry speak “auto-grat”-as in automatic gratuity. Many times it seems that there is often a lack of attention and focus on doing the job well and right because the service staff is already guaranteed a specific tip ahead of time. Since the tip is already included the server is no longer “earning” their tip. But if you think about it, this ought to cause the Service Professional to desire to do an even better job in to provide great service. However the opposite is sometimes the standard. This sub-par service takes many forms. I want to share with you some things to avoid and some tips to apply to ensure that every party or group you and your team serves receives 5 Star Service.
Host, Hostess, Maitre D’ (HHM) It is so very important for you to realize that You set the Tone. How you greet and seat your guests establishes the tone of the evening and what they expect their dinner event to be like. Please be pleasant and polite and use sentences. Don’t just say, “Can I get a name?” or “How many?” Use your personality and actually engage your guests. Greet them. Welcome them. “Hi, Good Evening, Welcome. Do you have a reservation? What name is it under?” Or “Hello, welcome to abc restaurant. Have you been in before? Are you with the XYZ Corporate Party?” Your job is extremely important. And yes, when you have 50 people crowding your host stand area and you have only a few non-reserved seats that you can sell and you have to tell people that it’s going to be a 1 to 1 1/2 hour wait-it can be very stressful for you. But you must keep your composure, keep smiling, be attentive and send out positive energy. You play a very vital role in the overall smooth flow of service and the perception the guests have of your establishment. You are the first impression and when you exude positive energy, and greet guests with your upbeat attitude, you really do set the tone for the guests entire evening. If you feel overwhelmed, or stressed, take a few deep breaths, smile and welcome your guests. They will remember how special and welcomed you made them feel as soon as they set foot into your establishment.
Servers-Communication and accuracy of order are so important. When food is being served-sometimes there is no system of distribution. There is a lack of organization or communication between the service staff as to who ordered what. In this situation the food is auctioned-“Who had the chicken parmagian? Who had the veal saltimbucca?” etc. This is not professional. This is not great service. This is poor service. The Service Professional, whomever is acting as the lead or head waiter over the table or group must do exactly that-take the lead. Write down position numbers of the tables. Draw out a chart with seat positions, and what each order is. By doing this, other team members who are assisting in serving- can refer to your diagram and efficiently and smoothly serve the proper order to each guest. It is very disconcerting and quite comical (not in a good way) to watch as guests pass plates after the server has left the table because they were not served what they ordered.
Communicate effectively with the kitchen. As much as possible, make every effort to serve ladies first. If that is not possible on the entrees-certainly you can ensure that ladies are served their initial drinks first, and their salads. It is still proper in 2018 to serve ladies first. Please endeavor to make this happen
Timing-Most people when they dine out together whether it’s a couple, a group of 6 or 20, they would like to be served at the same time. Many restaurants seem to treat groups like they’re eating tapas-sending out a couple of dishes at a time. This is not good service. As a Server in charge of a large table, you must act as the conductor or the quarterback, leading your team to seamlessly provide great service. You must develop your Restaurant Eyes and non-verbal cues that you can use to communicate to your team without saying in front of your guests. There is a whole chapter on this in my book, Getting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service.
Connect and Care– Even though you are serving a large group of people all at once, rather than the usual 2 or 4 or 6, you must still maintain that personalized service. Don’t view them as merely a group-Treat each guest as special. Look at them as you take their order. Don’t just stand at the head of the table and shout to each person, saying “And you Ma’am, what will you have? And you, sir, what is your order?” never once looking up from your notepad as you write it down. That is not great service. Treat each one as if they were your Grandmother, your mother or best friend. How would you talk to and treat them if you were serving them in your restaurant? Having eye contact and personal connection with each guest even when servicing a very large group, will make for a very positive impact on the entire event. Your guests are not expecting perfection, but they do expect a level of excellence that you and your team certainly are fully capable to provide. This is your time to shine. Imagine as you serve this large group of guests that you are making such a positive impression upon them that many of them, will become your regulars in the future.
Bussers, Food Runners, Server Assistants-When you are assisting serving a large party or bringing the food out to a server, you must ensure that the order is correct and complete before returning to the kitchen. It is very frustrating for a server to be standing at a table about to serve a group of 10 or more and he sees that there is an item that is missing or incorrect but the food runner, the busser, and the server assistant are all nowhere to be found. He is now feeling stranded, abandoned. He still has to serve each of these guests and he knows that some item is missing. Did the kitchen forget to plate it up? To put it on the tray? Did he, the server forget/neglect to put the order in? Precious seconds are ticking as he knows that at least one guest will have to wait for his or her order to be made. Communication is so key in this situation. The server is depending upon their busser or assistant to help things go smoothly. Teamwork is absolutely vital in this situation.
Anticipate your guests needs If the glass is half full and it’s a free refill item-water, iced tea, soda, coffee-please don’t wait for the guest to ask-offer to refill. If you are serving dishes to be served family style, please provide serving spoons, forks, tongs. Don’t wait to be asked. Provide spoons for sauces. Be proactive. Your guests will be very grateful for your forethought.
Pre-buss Both Servers and Bussers need to be on the top of their game with this. Many times with group service there is a lack of attention to detail of clearing unused, unneeded or dirty items from the table. You’ve done amazing in service thus far. Keep up the high standard of excellence by clearing unwanted items off the table. You may think it’s a small thing. I promise you it makes a huge impact.
Communicate effectively with the kitchen. As much as possible, make every effort to serve ladies first. If that is not possible on the entrees-certainly you can ensure that ladies are served their initial drinks first, and their salads. It is still proper in 2018 to serve ladies first. Please endeavor to make this happen.
Management-One challenge that happens during the Holiday Season is that when restaurants are booked with so many parties, they sometimes tend to be understaffed. I’ve been places where one server is serving 25, 30 or more guests all by herself. That is not great service. There is no way to provide WOW! Service if you are stretching your staff so thin. Of course every restaurant is different but no server should be taking that large of a party alone. It would be better to have 2 or 3 servers share the duties of a large group and then for each server to also have a couple of smaller tables that are seated staggered in time. Yes, this is stressful for you. Yes, making schedules work is a challenge. But it is also your most lucrative time of year. You must lead by example with a sincere desire to make every guest’s experience at your establishment a positive and memorable one.
Touch Tables– As a manager, one of your roles and a vital one is to engage your guests and ensure their great experience. Don’t be that manager that stays in the office and only emerges when a complaint comes to you. You have a great team but they need your presence and support. Though it may be stressful, this can be a fun, exciting, enjoyable Holiday Season for everyone, guests, staff and management alike.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!!
Thank you for reading!! I know it’s been a while. I appreciate all my Soupfly Readers from all around the world. Thank you for your loyal support. Please feel free to share your comments.
Christoff J. Weihman
If you are inspired to up your Customer Service game, I invite you to order a copy of my book, Getting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service or my new one, The Customer Experience, (a Number 1 Amazon Best Seller) please go here.
Welcome Back to Soupfly!
It’s been a while and I’ve missed you all. Here is a fresh serving of Soupfly for you to enjoy!
Breaking Free of the Mediocre Mindset (Choosing and Using Better Words)
Words have power. They have the power to affect us. Positively or negatively. The words we say. And even the words we think. Our words affect our mindset, which in turn affect our feelings and inform the actions we take. Words spoken and unspoken. Conscious and unconscious. Our words affect the people we speak them to. Words carry energy.
I have noticed for some time now that there is an overall lax in the workplace in terms of the way people communicate to and with customers. Every day, in so many interactions, we hear service professionals being very non-intentional with their words. Saying the same thing over and over to customer after customer. Do we even give any conscious thought to the words we speak?
At a retail or grocery store, “Did you find everything ok?”
A host or hostess to a guest upon entering a restaurant, “Two?”
A restaurant server to the guest, “Is everything ok?” “Are you still doing ok?”
At any business establishment, “Have a good one.” A good what I ask?
At a bank, “I can help.” Not “Hi, how may I help you?” ?
When a customer says “Thank you”, oftentimes the response is “No problem.” What happened to “You’re welcome”? And by the way, why are you not thanking me for my business instead of me just thanking you?
At some establishments, like The Ritz Carlton, they say, “My pleasure” or “It’s my pleasure”. What a difference that is. Which sounds better and conveys a better feeling message; “No problem.” Or “My pleasure”?
What is wrong with saying “Is everything ok?” you ask. Nothing really. But it’s just a word that the only thing it conveys is a sense of average. Mediocrity. Think about it, do you really want your customers to be ok? Or would you prefer their experience to be great, awesome, wonderful, enjoyable?
My mentor and friend, James Dentley, says that average or mediocre is “The best of the worst and the worst of the best. It’s the top of the bottom and the bottom of the top.” Now tell me, is that what you want to be? Average? Mediocre? The words you use reveal what is in your mind. Are you being intentional or are you just using words that you’ve always used everyday and that everybody everywhere always uses?
Yes, I am particular and conscientious about the words I use and choose. But I too, fall into the trap sometimes. In fact, last month when I was speaking at a large sales rally in Chicago, I had just mentioned earlier in my presentation that we should be intentional and aware of the words we use. I even recommended omitting the word “ok” from our vocabulary and replacing it with something that carried more positivity. Then, literally moments after I mentioned this, I said, something like, “Is it ok for us to have fun?” And they all shouted “No it’s not ok. It’s great.” Good to know that they were paying attention and that perhaps I made an impact. The called me out on what I myself was speaking about.
I believe there may be better words for us to use. So, for example, when you mean acceptable, allowed, etc. why not use those words instead of ‘ok’? When you mean comfortable, satisfied or feeling well, why not say that instead of “Are you ok?”
These are just a few examples of what, in my opinion is laziness and a mediocre mindset. I know that these professionals are not intending any negativity by the words they say. However, neither are they putting any conscious effort into conveying a positive energy. They are not setting the tone in an upbeat manner.
When calling a company, oftentimes, the person answering the phone doesn’t even say the name of the company. Sometimes it’s merely, “Hello,” It’s a simple thing, but actually saying, “Thank you for calling Tony’s Bistro. How may I help you?” goes a long way to making the customer feel comfortable. Do you really appreciate their business? How do you show it? Do you answer the phone in a way that sends out a positive, upbeat, and welcoming message? Or does it convey that you really don’t care who’s calling, if anyone is calling or not?
In a day when business in all industries is over-the-top competitive, there has to be a way to stand out amongst the sea of mediocrity. Are you just going through the motions, hour after hour, day after day at your job? Or do you look forward to coming to work, with a positive mindset, an attitude of anticipation, filled with enthusiasm and eager to be of service to your customers?
Do you come to work with a conscious knowing that you have the power to positively impact your customers? With your smile, your attitude, your energy, and your words? You do. Our words have power. Your words have power. What kind of impact do you desire to have upon those that you encounter every day? It’s your choice. Words do have power. But words filled with mediocrity convey no power. Don’t let your words merely convey mediocrity. Don’t ask if everything is ‘ok’. Refuse to think, be or say the word “ok”. It’s a mindset. Do you really want your customers, your guests, your clients to think that your service or product is “ok”? Wouldn’t you love if your customers perceived that doing business with you was a pleasant, exciting, fun, stress free, and enjoyable experience? Something more than just ‘ok’?
In the words of my mentor, Les Brown, “You have greatness within you.” Let your words be one way in which you share that greatness with the world.
Thank you for reading. I am super grateful for all my Soupfly readers from around the world. If you enjoy what you read please comment below, follow and connect with us on Social Media!
Cheers and God Bless you All!
Christoff J. Weihman
To order copies of my books, Getting to WOW! or The Customer Experience please go here: