The guest is demanding it! They want “serve-us”– they don’t care how many people you serve, they are concerned only with their order – special requests and all! Times have changed.
Most of what a traditional delivery/carryout restaurant does can be replaced by technology (i.e. ordering online or through an IVR). Guests, however, still desire contact with service providers as long as the employees add value to the guest experience. A leading quick-service chain recently implemented a hospitality focus and instantly had record sales weeks and mountains of positive guest comments! Hospitality can be your secret weapon, but there’s still one hill to climb – making it part of the culture and not another “program.”
Most employees come to us believing a phone rep, for example, simply “takes orders” in the following fashion: “Delivery or carry-out?” “Anything else?” “The total is $24.50 and it will be delivered in 30-35 minutes.” That’s service – a series of robotic, monotone steps to satisfy a guest’s need – in this case placing an order. It’s up to you to rise to a new level of service, the P.H.D. (Pizza Hospitality Delivered) level, into your employees’ minds.
Think about Southwest Airlines’ flair and pizzazz versus other airlines boring, scripted announcements (i.e. “there may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only four ways to get off this airplane” vs. the typical safety script)! Same step, entirely different feel to the guest.
Add sizzle to what the employees are saying. Make it fun and let them use their personalities. Provide guidelines and “non-negotiables” (i.e. the phone must be answered within three rings) and let them work their own magic so the call doesn’t sound mechanical. Let’s look at a few of the opportunities to “sizzle” your guests and let them experience P.H.D.
- Create a “wow” greeting! (Hint: It’s not “delivery or carry-out?”) For example, “Thanks for calling ______! Today we are featuring ______ as well as a number of other specials…would you like to hear about them?”
- Use the guests’ names! If you don’t have caller ID, get their name so you can use it for delivery.
- Customize the call! Offer a “loyalty special” to regulars or a “first-timer” special to new callers. For first-time callers, suggest your most popular items and provide guidance on the menu such as deals or special offers.
- On the order, ask for how many the caller is ordering. A couple placing an order doesn’t want to hear about the three large pizzas and 100 wings special. Bigger groups need to hear about the larger size offerings so sales aren’t lost by suggesting smaller-sized specials. Maintain speed by suggesting appropriate specials to get the guest to “yes!”
- Ensure sales tips sound guest-friendly. If the caller orders a medium one topping pizza, a sizzle reply would be, “We are featuring two pizzas for $13.99, or you can save $4 and only order one for $9.99.” To the guest it sounds like you are trying to save them money instead of “Would you like to add another pizza for $4?” Sell to the situation…not what you want to sell, what the guest wants to buy.
- Listen for cues. If the guest is placing a large order, ask what the occasion is. Add a card to the delivery wishing the guest good luck on the project, a happy birthday note or a “Hope your team wins” note. Sizzle!
The next opportunity for P.H.D. is if the guest is picking up their order. They are not a number, so don’t make them feel like one!
- Welcome guests as they enter with the entire staff saying, “Welcome to ______!” This will set an inviting tone versus the guest feeling like they are an interruption of the day.
- Guest is offered a drink while they are waiting (i.e. suggest a 20-oz. soda for 99 cents).
- Order is confirmed with the guest. Open the box if it is a pizza, or show the guest their order in the bag.
- Provide a bounce-back coupon with a short expiration date to build frequency (and avoid their temptation to call the competition).
- Personally thank the guest and invite them back (soon) – “Thanks again Mr./Ms. ______. See you again next week!”
If you are delivering the order to the guest, add some flair to the generic, “Here’s your order. The total is $25.00.” Ensure the drivers deliver P.H.D.
- Use guest’s name and describe order using descriptive words. For example, “Mr. Smith – great to see you again! You are the lucky winner of two delicious combo pizzas with no onions, an order of wings and a large 2-liter soda to help put out the fire!”
- Point out coupons on the box and encourage guest to use them soon.
- If there was an “occasion” noted on the order (i.e. Courtney and Matthew’s birthday), the driver mentions it: “Be sure to tell Courtney and Matthew Happy Birthday from us!”
- Thank the guests and invite them to order again soon: “Thanks again, Mr. Smith! Look forward to seeing you again next week!”
For full-service restaurants, have the host uncover why the guest is visiting and note it on a guest check (i.e. first timer, in a hurry, celebration and so on) so the server can customize the experience. Hosts need to use the real estate between the stand and the table to find out why the guests are here. “Hi, two? Follow me.” and a mad dash to the table is not P.H.D. Change the verbage to, “Welcome to ______! You look familiar, do you eat here often?”
The guest check can be placed face down and the server can discreetly pick it up so they can customize the experience. First-time guests need menu guidance, reassurance of their choices and maybe the location of the restrooms! Regular guests who never open their menu need to be made aware of new items, be recognized, thanked and given the occasional perk.
- Wow the guest at every interaction point! Deliver a customized guest experience.
- Make appropriate suggestions that sound beneficial to the guest: “We are featuring two outstanding appetizers today, the buffalo wings and our signature spinach dip – which may I start you off with?” or “I have another cold beer on ice waiting for you – just say the word!”
- Reassure guest choices: “It’s one of our most popular!” “Great choice!” or “We get tons of compliments on that!”
- Table maintenance – drop the mechanical, “Still working on that?” or “Need a box?” Deliver P.H.D. “Are you still enjoying the pizza or may I remove it and box it up for you?”
- As the guest departs, invite them back. “Thanks again for visiting today. I look forward to serving you again soon!”
Ideas are easy, execution isn’t, so how do you get the team to make it happen? All of us know how to tie our shoes, but training someone else to do it is very difficult. Additionally, one parent may teach it one way and the other parent may teach it another way. What happens? The child wants shoes with Velcro straps!
The same is true with hospitality. It’s hard to describe, but we know it when we see it and there are many ways to deliver hospitality. If Manager A says, “You have to make suggestions exactly like I said” and Manager B says, “You have to make suggestions exactly like I said,” you’ll have confused, ineffective employees and average service. To deliver P.H.D. service, try the following:
- Create a “Hospitality Zone” – If any guest is within three steps, make eye contact and smile! As they approach within one step, verbally acknowledge them and make it fun! On the phone, keep smiling, be reassuring and sincere.
- Communicate Daily – Pre-shift meetings need to have a portion focused on hospitality everyday to make it a habit. Let the employees do all the talking. Prompt them by asking the following:
- If a guest calls and has never ordered from us, what would you say?
- What else could you say (other than “OK” or “no problem”) when a guest orders a large pepperoni pizza?
- If a guest doesn’t order an appetizer how would you suggest one?
- Suggest a special for a group of 12.
- When a guest comes in to pickup their order, what would you say?
- A caller has ordered from us every week, what would you say when they call?
- Reward it – Carry tickets around with you and each time you hear or observe P.H.D., reward them on the spot. The employees can save the tickets for prizes as a reward for delivering outstanding service.
After a few short days, you will have guests praising the new levels of service and wondering when the store changed management – for the better. So get out there and have your guests get their P.H.D. – your top (and bottom) line will appreciate it.