Benchmark Your Way to a Better Service Plan
By Jesse Boles Executive Director of Operations, FreemanGroup | May 15, 2011
You have to use all of your resources as efficiently as possible in order to achieve the highest level of success for your organization. In the hospitality industry, your prime resource is people. If you don't know how well your people are delivering your brand and providing guests with the kinds of experiences you are hoping to deliver, you can never really know whether you are achieving your highest levels of success.
Designing a service experience is all fine and good, but effectively executing and evaluating the experience is what separates winners from losers. To determine whether or not the service experience you are providing is both meeting your set standards and satisfying guests' expectations, ask yourself two questions: "Is everything going according to plan?" and "Is the plan good?"
Is Everything Going According to Plan?
One way to find out if everything is going according to plan is by performing internal inspections. Internal inspections can often be effective when you want to know if you are executing your standards for material service. You can determine things such as whether the beds are properly made and whether the presentation of food is to specifications, and so on. One plus to performing internal inspections is that it allows you to use auditors that already know your standards down to the finest detail. Another plus is the relatively low cost of completing internal inspections.
Finding the right people to carry out the inspections or audits is the biggest challenge associated with internal inspections. You will need to be aware of inherent biases. We often see what we expect to see, and can become accustomed to overlooking poor performance. If an inspector is known to your staff, it may impact the performance the auditor is attempting to measure. Adding a mystery shop component to your service plan will help you measure the quality of actual service delivery to a typical guest. An anonymous and unbiased inspector can provide you with a typical guest's view of your brand and help you see how staff performs when they think no one is looking.
Whether you use internal auditors, mystery shoppers, or a combination of both to measure performance, the design of the metric is critical. What you measure will determine what your team focuses on, and can either support or undermine your training efforts. We have all heard the phrase "teaching to the test;" it is rarely, if ever, used complimentary. This is probably because there are a lot of lousy tests out there; if there weren't, there would be nothing wrong with teaching to the test. The bottom line is that trainees are more apt to improve their performance when it is evaluated. Take the time to design an instrument that measures what is truly important about your brand. If you focus on finding out whether everyone is in uniform, wearing a name tag, and smiling, you will likely get team members that are very good at being in uniform, wearing a name tag, and smiling, and little else. A well-thought-out measurement program will yield more than superficial results.