Handling hospitality

As full-service restaurants’ carryout services continue to peck away at the pizza delivery/carryout business, it’s even more critical today to enhance your service levels.

Face it, while the quantity of the competition continues to increase, their abilities to execute outstanding service aren’t that great.

Since the New York Pizza Show is just around the corner, I thought this issue’s article should reflect what I’ll be talking about in my seminar. Here are some ideas you can use now, and if you want more, be sure to attend the “Now That’s Service That Sells” seminar Tuesday, November 2nd. There are over 40 operational ideas you can implement immediately. The session will cover: the success formula, creating a hospitality culture, customizing the guest experience, phone sizzle, situational selling skills, implementation strategies and incentive programs that make you more money!

Here’s just a few of over 40 operational ideas you’ll hear about during the seminar:

  • Program your POS system with buttons for first-time guests or celebrations. When your cashier takes the order, a code prints on the ticket so the kitchen staff makes the food exactly right. Those delivering the food can thank the new guest or congratulate them on the special occasion.
  • If you have a full-service operation, your hosts can code the guest checks using the codes above so the server can customize the experience and tailor suggestions specific to the needs of that type of guest. Families have a different set of needs and recommendations than a group of people out drinking at happy hour. Tailor the suggestions and guide the guest to “yes”!
  • We’ll talk about situational selling – Suggest the appropriate item for the specific situation. Every guest doesn’t need to hear the same canned sales lines. If they are ordering alcohol, the server can suggest the premium liquor/wine or larger sized draft beer. If the customer didn’t order dessert, they can offer a choice of two and ask, “which would you prefer?” You’ll hear more “yes” answers.
  • You’ll learn about selling in guest terms. This means not asking, “Would you like another pizza for $4?” Instead, tell them, “Our most popular offer is two pizzas for $13.99, or you can save $4 and just get one.” Not only will you sell more large deals using this method, your customer hears, “Save $4” vs. “$4 more”’—great subliminal marketing.
  • We’ll discuss how you can teach your staff to make more tips—from servers to delivery drivers. Remember, the more they earn, the less likely they are to leave when a competitor opens. Your job is to teach them to succeed. The funny thing is if they are successful, you will be too.
  • Use your database –Call back three to five customers that ordered the previous day to see how satisfied they were with their pizza and service. You might get their answering machine, but they’ll still know you care.
  • Banned phrases – Eliminate, “Anything else?” “Decided yet?” “Any questions?” “Is that all?” These phrases are not suggestive selling and do little to enhance the guest experience.
  • Reassure guest choices – Lose the insincere “OK” or “no problem” responses when a guest orders. Make them feel great about what they are ordering. Use phrases such as, “Excellent choice,” “You can’t go wrong with that,” “That’s our best deal,” “It’s our most popular appetizer” and so on. Guests will be confident they made the right choice.
  • Phone greetings – Prior to getting to the information you need to know (delivery or carryout, phone number, etc), have a “welcome suggestion” when answering the phone; ask how many the caller will be ordering for so you can customize the suggestions (and speed the call up) and use their name whenever possible.
  • Hospitality role plays – Learn how to coach your team in short 30-60 second intervals to ensure they not only know it, they show it!
  • Effective test strategies – Don’t just “roll out a new program.” Conduct a brief focus group with employees and ask what they would suggest to enhance sales and service. Pass some of these (or your) suggestions by them to see what their response is – that way you “know their hand.” Pick a few employees to “test” the new ideas, make any necessary modifications and then have those employees present the new changes to the staff. Peer pressure is more effective than management pressure.
  • Incentives – Create effective sales and profit contests for the front-of-house, back-of-house and phone staff. See how to implement sales bingo, host bingo, find-the-dot-clean-the-spot, order time and quality contest, “fun(d)raisers” to drive check average with servers and phone reps. After 18 years of working for a pizza chain, I’ll share how to design the most effective contests (and what to avoid) so you can generate some awesome returns on the investment and make the staff happy.

If I keep going, you’ll see everything that’s covered in the seminar, so why would you want to show up? Knowing what to do is only part of the equation. How to do these things is the secret weapon. The seminar helps to fill in the “how” of the above suggestions. Keep doing what you are doing and you’ll be passed by – or you can shake the ‘Etch-A-Sketch’ picture of service you currently have and open your mind to new ideas to ensure your guests leave saying, “Now that’s service!”