Page 1

The

Buzztime

Bar Survival

OPERATION & MANAGEMENT

VOL. 1 MARKETING 2013

Guide The Complete List of Things Management, Hosts and Servers Should Never Say or Do. Š 2013 NTN Buzztime, Inc.


2 17 THINGS A RESTAURANT MANAGER SHOULD NEVER DO

Restaurant managers have a lot of responsibility…and of course, this can be a good thing or a bad thing! Here are 17 ways to avoid making some of the biggest management mistakes.

5 14 THINGS HOSTS AND SERVERS SHOULD NEVER SAY OR DO

Of course the quality of your food is important, but nothing turns customers off more quickly than bad service. If servers or hosts interact with customers in the wrong way, those customers probably won’t be back. Some of these no-no’s might not be as obvious as you think.

Table of

contents

8  10 CUSTOMER SERVICE PRACTICES YOU SHOULD NEVER ADOPT

Sometimes customer service boils down to the actions you don’t take. Bringing repeat customers to your establishment and ensuring their satisfaction throughout the dining experience can be helped by avoiding some common pitfalls of customer service.

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12  R  ESTAURANT MANAGEMENT: 4 TIPS TO LEAD BY EXAMPLE The most effective form of leadership is by example. This means that you need to be

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on good behavior at all times and have the same set of standards for yourself as you do for your employees. Here are four ways to help you talk the talk and walk the walk!

© 2013 NTN Buzztime, Inc.


1 MISTREAT EMPLOYEES.

If you’re unfair or unkind, it will come back to haunt you in the form of employees who don’t feel any loyalty towards their job. A restaurant can’t be successful without dedicated employees.

17 THINGS 2 DON’T GIVE CUSTOMERS A RESTAURANT MANAGER SHOULD NEVER DO

Restaurant managers have a lot of responsibility…and of course, this can be a good thing or a bad thing! If you’d like to avoid making some of the biggest management mistakes, read on to find out what you should never do.

ANY OPPORTUNITY FOR FEEDBACK.

Whether it involves checking in with them at their tables or leaving comment cards, give your customers the opportunity to let you know about any problems. If you don’t, you have no way of knowing what mistakes you’re making.

3 IGNORE CUSTOMER

COMPLAINTS.

If a customer takes the time to complain, it’s important to take them seriously and do everything you can to make it better, whether that involves apologizing, comping the meal, or giving out coupons for future meals.

4 TELL CUSTOMERS THEY’RE

WRONG.

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Even if you know a customer’s complaint is ridiculous, there is still no excuse for telling them they’re wrong. It’s important to take every customer complaint seriously, even the ones that don’t make sense.

© 2013 NTN Buzztime, Inc.


5 IGNORE

9 BE A STICKLER ABOUT

SOCIAL MEDIA.

Check Facebook, Twitter, and review sites (like Yelp) often to see what customers are saying about your restaurant. It’s important to know what impression customers are getting of your business.

6 ARGUE WITH

CUSTOMERS ONLINE.

A leaky faucet? An underselling menu item? Employees who just don’t get along? Broken equipment? These problems shouldn’t just be swept under the rug. If you ignore them, they’ll just hurt you more in the long run.

11 DISCIPLINE

EMPLOYEES CLEAR INSTRUCTIONS.

Yes, it’s good to have rules, but realize that you can’t be strict all the time. Occasionally, it’s in your best interest to bend the rules for a customer if it will make them happy (and if it isn’t too much of an inconvenience).

10 IGNORE PROBLEMS.

Social media gives you a great opportunity to respond to customers in public, but this opportunity can turn into a pitfall if you just argue and insult customers. Remember that everyone can see your online comments!

7 DON’T GIVE

THE RULES.

Your employees aren’t mind readers! If you want dishes prepared a certain way or tables arranged just so, you have to tell them. Clear instructions will save time and hassle.

EMPLOYEES IN FRONT OF CUSTOMERS.

If an employee screws up, of course you have to talk to them about it (and possibly take disciplinary action). But never do it in front of customers! It’s awkward for everyone in the dining room to watch, and it won’t make customers want to come back.

8 KEEP EMPLOYEES 12 FAIL TO WHO ARE DEAD WEIGHT. Is an employee lazy, constantly late, or just a

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bad worker? It’s your job as a manager to keep the restaurant running smoothly, and you can’t do that if you keep employees who don’t do their jobs.

COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR EMPLOYEES.

If there’s an important change to the schedule or menu, your employees need to know. If you fail to keep them in the loop, your entire restaurant will look bad. © 2013 NTN Buzztime, Inc.


13 ACT ABOVE THE RULES. The restaurant rules are there for everyone to follow…and this includes managers! When you act like you’re above the rules, this sets a bad example for your employees.

14 LET A CUSTOMER LEAVE UNHAPPY.

You should do whatever it takes (within reason) to make sure everyone leaves your restaurant happy. It may seem like an expense to offer a free meal or coupon to a disgruntled customer, but it will pay off in the long run.

15 NOT KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON IN EVERY

PART OF THE RESTAURANT.

Could you describe everything your kitchen staff does in a day? What about our bussers or your servers? As a manager, it’s your job to be aware of these things at all times.

16 AVOID GIVING POSITIVE FEEDBACK.

It’s important to let your employees know what they’re doing wrong, but it’s just as important to let them know what they’re doing right! This leads to happier, more satisfied employees, which in turn leads to a more successful restaurant.

17 FORGET ABOUT CUSTOMERS. Remember, customers are the reason why the restaurant exists in the first place! Always put their needs first.

Managing a restaurant may be a lot of responsibility, but by avoiding these 17 pitfalls you can be a better manager and help your restaurant succeed.

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© 2013 NTN Buzztime, Inc.


14 Things

Hosts & Servers

“ WOULD YOU LI K E CHAN G E?”

Should Never Say or Do

Of course the quality of your food is important, but nothing turns customers off more quickly than bad service. If servers or hosts interact with customers in the wrong way, those customers probably won’t be back. So what should your employees do? Read on to find out the things servers and hosts should never say.

1 “ARE YOU STILL

3 “WOULD YOU LIKE FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER?”

Most servers ask this immediately after putting plates in front of customers, but think about it: How does a customer know if their food needs No one likes to feel like their meal is work. It also seasoning if they haven’t tried it yet? makes the diner feel rushed, like the restaurant can’t wait to clear them out and seat the next customer.

WORKING ON THAT?”

4 “THE WAIT WON’T BE

2 “THAT’S NOT POSSIBLE.” Whether it’s a host saying s/he can’t seat a customer or a server saying s/he can’t provide substitutions, this isn’t a good idea. Your restaurant can’t fulfill every customer’s whims or get a table of 11 people a table right away, but your servers and hosts should still have a more positive attitude. Try saying, “I’ll check with my manager” or “I’ll see what I can do” before finding out if it’s really impossible.

5

LONG.”

If the wait really will be lengthy, it’s not a good idea to lie to customers about it. It’s better to overestimate. If the host tells them that the wait will be an hour and they’re seated in half an hour, they’ll feel lucky. But if a host tells them the wait is half an hour and an hour later they’re still not seated? Well, they probably won’t be so pleased.

© 2013 NTN Buzztime, Inc.


5 “DID YOU SAVE

ROOM FOR DESSERT?”

Many servers talk about dessert like it’s some sort of sinful, extravagant extra. It makes sense that customers might want to indulge when they’re enjoying a night out, but don’t make them feel guilty about it! Servers should simply ask if customers would like to see a dessert menu.

6 “SWEETIE.” Servers or hosts might think they’re being friendly by using pet names, but many customers find this way too familiar. Avoid using “sweetie,” “honey,” or other too-cute terms.

7 “JUST ONE?” If a customer is dining alone, servers and hosts should avoid drawing attention to this fact. A person who’s eating alone doesn’t need to be called out for it!

8 “WOULD YOU LIKE CHANGE?”

This question is especially out of place if a customer’s paying for a $50 meal with a $100 bill. If customers don’t want change, they’ll let their server know. When a server asks them, it just looks greedy.

Your servers have more interaction with customers than anyone else. If your servers are well-trained, helpful, and friendly, this can be a good thing. But on the other hand, it can also be a very bad thing. Of course you want your servers to help your business, not harm it, so make sure they avoid these hot buttons.

9 MAKE GUESTS FEEL UNWELCOME

Every guest in the restaurant should feel welcome. That means greeting each guest as s/he arrives and being friendly at all times. Servers will want to be friendly to their own tables, of course, but they should also be just as helpful to guests at other tables. If another server’s customer asks for a refill or more silverware, a server shouldn’t ignore him or her just because he won’t be getting a tip. Servers represent the restaurant, so they have to be sure they’re courteous at all times.

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© 2013 NTN Buzztime, Inc.


10 BE TOO CASUAL

“JUST ONE? ”

The flip side of not being friendly enough is being a bit too friendly. Servers should never touch customers or interrupt a conversation. And no matter how casual the restaurant is, servers always need to be professional—never touch the rims of glasses or the ends of silverware, always write down orders, and remember that the customers aren’t personal friends. They deserve to be treated with respect.

11 HIDE THINGS Servers shouldn’t lie to customers, deceive them, or be anything other than honest. Is there a delay? Tell the customers as soon as possible. Will there be an automatic gratuity added for large parties? Let guests know, so they’re not unpleasantly surprised. Is there an upcharge for subbing out a side dish? Make sure to mention it. And always let guests know the price of specials and whether the restaurant is out of something before they order.

13 MAKE CUSTOMERS FEEL RUSHED

When customers come to your restaurant, it’s a treat. They want a night away from home to relax and enjoy themselves. What they don’t want is to feel rushed and pushed out so the next party can be seated. Servers shouldn’t take plates away too early (especially if everyone in the party isn’t done eating yet) or bring the check too soon. No matter how crazy the restaurant is or how many people are waiting for tables, make sure customers feel relaxed and comfortable.

12 ARGUE WITH CUSTOMERS

This might seem like a given, but it’s important. The quote, “The customer is always right” is a cliché for a reason! When a customer complains, servers should do their best to listen and help. They should fix the problem when possible, or refer the customer to a manager if there’s nothing they can do. They should never, ever fight with customers or dispute their complaints, even if they’re wrong.

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14 ASK IF THE CUSTOMER WANTS CHANGE

This is a simple action that can really make servers look unprofessional. The customer will let a server know if s/he can keep the change. Asking just seems presumptuous and rude.

The most important thing for servers to remember is to always be friendly, courteous, helpful, and professional. By keeping these tips in mind, your servers can avoid big blunders and keep you from losing sales! © 2013 NTN Buzztime, Inc.


10 customer service practices you should never adopt

Plenty of lip service is devoted to what practices businesses should engage in as they attempt to keep their customers as happy as possible. To be certain, a proactive approach will usually solve most problems a restaurant will encounter during a shift. But customer service also boils down to the actions you don’t take. Bringing repeat customers to your establishment and ensuring their satisfaction throughout the dining experience can be helped by avoiding some common pitfalls of customer service.

1

Avoid using social media platforms.

Transitioning traditional marketing tactics toward social media efforts can prove to be an intimidating notion for some restaurant and bar owners. However, with 700 million Facebook users and counting, this platform cannot be ignored. Social media sites provide a sheath to hide behind for many users. Have a plan set in action to respond to any negative feedback regarding a dissatisfied customer. This is the perfect opportunity to right any wrongs in the public sphere. If you spin a negative situation into a positive one, you can not only mend a relationship with a current customer, but also show potential customers that you truly care and their satisfaction is of the utmost importance.

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Š 2013 NTN Buzztime, Inc.


2

Minimize complaints.

You cannot please all customers all of the time. However, if you shrug off a complaint one time because the customer is finicky and impossible to please, you allow a downward thought and attitude spiral to erupt that can cascade down to all employees. Do not make it difficult for customers to file a complaint. Complaints should be viewed as a tool for improvement. Dig deeper into the root of the issue at hand and fix it. Better yet, find a way to capitalize on the problem and improve it beyond its original. On a parallel note, do not make it difficult for your staff to provide feedback as well. These people are your front-line staff who are present when incidents take place.

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Ignore the importance of customer loyalty.

with staff members. Another 30% of respondents deemed not feeling as if they were a valued customer as the reason for relocating their business elsewhere.

There is a simple formula to follow in order to maximize customer loyalty. You must exceed your customers’ expectations and surmount competitors’ customer service practices.

There are simple ways to make your customers feel special when they dine at your establishment to help foster a loyal customer base.

After all, acquiring new customers can be five times more expensive than keeping current customers. In a study conducted in Canada, 43% of respondents left a particular provider due to a negative experience

Once you have achieved this goal, avoid any practices that can kill customer loyalty.

4

Over-complicate things.

Forbes magazine found a quick-service restaurant with 55 different ways for an employee to ring up one of its items. “When it takes that much energy just to manage a cash register, how much is left over for taking care of customers?” Using the KISS approach to your customer service (keep it simple, stupid) accomplishes two things: It frees up your staff to better attend to the needs of a customer and reduces the chance that your customers face the additional headache of waiting as your employees navigate an unnecessarily complex process.

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© 2013 NTN Buzztime, Inc.


5

Create unrealistic expectations

It is difficult enough to make customers happy. That is particularly the case with certain types of customers who always seem to have a problem with service providers. The key becomes making certain you don’t set yourself up for failure in these types of situations. When your staff interacts with customers you should make clear they are never to make promises without knowing with certainty they can fulfill a request. The bottom line is that when in doubt “I’m not sure, but I’ll check on it” is always a better answer than “Absolutely.”

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Say ‘No.’

Obviously there will be times when you’ll need to tell customers they won’t be getting what they want. The key becomes how to tell them no without actually telling them no. To that end, improvestaff.com offers a simple fourstep process to handling situations where you won’t be able to meet customer expectations: A. Acknowledge, B. Decline, C. Give Reasons and D. Offer Alternatives. When your staff encounters a request they know to be a no-go, it is critical they make a point of relating to the frustration the customer is experiencing. From that point explaining why they won’t be able to meet their request and offering potential solutions becomes a far easier process.

7

Avoid taking responsibility

Customers don’t like it when you can’t make them happy. But they also don’t care much for passing the buck. Blaming a co-worker or company policy isn’t going to solve their problem. Even worse, it doesn’t shine a positive light on the business during a time when the customer might already be doubting the efficiency of your operation. People aren’t completely irrational. They know that everything in life doesn’t go according to plan. Customers will respect an employee who takes blame for an issue while earnestly working to rectify the situation.

8

Ignore reviews

Customers will post reviews, both good and bad, whether or not you monitor review sites. According to Forbes, responding to a negative review or complaint can change an unsatisfied customer’s attitude toward a company. Actively monitor popular review sites like Yelp, Urbanspoon and Google Places, and provide a timely response to negative reviews. While complaints can feel like a personal attack, remember that reviews are your customers. Keep responses courteous and genuine. If multiple reviews cite the same type of complaints, examine the issue and make necessary changes to improve customer experience.

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© 2013 NTN Buzztime, Inc.


9

Say “I don’t know”

While there are certain questions all staff should know the answer to, there will undoubtedly be times when customers have unique questions or requests that leave servers stumped. It’s important to train staff members to never say “I don’t know” to a customer, even when they really don’t. When an employee says “I don’t know,” the customer may lose confidence in the restaurant, wondering what else the employees don’t know. Saying “let me check on that,” or “I can find out for you,” makes the customer feel like their question is important and will be taken seriously.

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Be inconsistent

No one likes a hit-or-miss restaurant. Customers do not appreciate being treated well during one visit and poorly during another. Make sure servers treat all of their guests well and do not put extra focus on a particular table while ignoring another. Always serve the same quality of food. Tips for keeping consistency in the kitchen include using standard recipes, using consistent suppliers and quality ingredients and providing uniform training for all kitchen staff.

And the list could go on and on. Implementing excellent customer service practices is an integral part of your business. After all, it wouldn’t be much of a business without your customers.

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© 2013 NTN Buzztime, Inc.


Restaurant Management: 4 Tips To Lead By Example The most effective form of leadership is by example. When you are in a management position, employees are more likely to watch and emulate you, which means that you need to be on good behavior at all times! You must have the same set of standards for yourself as you do for your employees. Having a ‘do what I say, not what I do’ approach when owning a business rarely ends well.

PROVIDE QUALITY SERVICE Every restaurant should have their own set of standards and expectations that each employee is aware of and is supposed to follow. These could be anything you decide, from simple things like refilling water cups regularly to a process on how to handle angry customers. Since service can make or break a customer’s experience at your restaurant, this is essential for you to do. But what’s more important than simply selecting rules and enforcing quality service at your location, is also doing it yourself. While something may not be your normal task, if it needs to be done, do it with a smile. Managers will have to take charge and pick up the slack sometimes, so don’t forget those service standards that you set for everyone else.

CREATE A COMFORTABLE AND PLEASANT ENVIRONMENT

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It is vital for restaurant management to be aware of what is going on at their location. This goes for both your employees and your customers. The atmosphere should be enjoyable for all involved, which does include you. Employees should never dread coming to work or worry about issues. This is why you need to be approachable and work on communicating with everyone at your restaurant. When you are open, friendly, and happy, your employees will be as well, which will show through their interactions with customers and job performance. © 2013 NTN Buzztime, Inc.


“doWhat my

BE APPROPRIATE & PROFESSIONAL If you set a particular expectation for your employees to maintain a professional demeanor and to use appropriate language at all times, then you need to do the same. While you do want to be friendly with both your customers and employees, there are certain lines that should not be crossed. Using crude language, slacking off, or partaking in unprofessional relationships during work does not send a good message to those that look up to you. Let’s be real, no one likes a hypocrite!

guests

want?

STAY CALM

Managing a restaurant is a lot of responsibility, reviewing these guidelines with your employees may help you steer clear of a few bumps in the road and help day to day operations and management be a little easier for you.

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Mistakes and accidents are bound to happen in every work place, especially in a restaurant. Things are dropped, orders are incorrect, and both employees and customers are upset. The best way to deal with this is to remain calm and collected. If a manager loses their cool and yells at someone, this will not be good – for business or morale. You need to think quickly, accept criticism, and do it all with a smile. And once you are done with this, feel free to find a pillow to scream into when you are alone. It’s extremely frustrating to deal with disgruntled customers, but it must be done properly to maintain the reputation and order of your restaurant.

© 2013 NTN Buzztime, Inc.


Š 2013 NTN Buzztime, Inc.

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