Not Losing the Gen Y Diner

By Brian Mitchell Principal, Mitchell Performance Systems | November 02, 2014

Co-authored by Evan Mitchell, Senior Consultant, Mitchell Performance Systems

This is the sixth and final article in our series on improving revenue and profit from F&B. Throughout the series our arguments have been directed at senior management. The aim has been to open the eyes of general managers to opportunities and challenges in F&B that are not self-evident from their perspective – but have a very real impact on profitability.

Before we address the final theme, how to attract and engage with the Gen Y diner, there’s a brief summary of what we believe senior management should take away from the first five articles. Each summary is followed by a suggested line of enquiry for general managers. The answers received to these questions will prove instructive.

Article 1: “A Tale of Two Cultures – how a Different Mindset will lift Food and Beverage

The approach to selling that typifies full service hotel restaurant operations can usefully be compared with the sales mindset of successful consumer products organisations. The latter have a clear fix on the relationship between customer service and selling. They see these two functions as inextricably linked and interdependent. The hospitality industry on the other hand tends to see them as vaguely separate. This leads to the self-defeating situation where inferior front of house sales performance can easily be excused or justified on the grounds of service. In truth the technique-driven sales principles applied by successful FMCG companies (impulse and add on selling, trading up, and solution selling) – which, as our article shows, are equally applicable in a restaurant – are designed to raise service standards not just sales results. Hotel management needs to grasp this point. Because without such a mindset F&B performance will always be hobbled, and restaurant patrons will fail to receive the level of service they deserve.

Useful enquiry: What’s the sales strategy for our front of house teams?

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Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.