Standing Out - Getting Right What Most People Get Wrong About Wine
By Brian Mitchell Principal, Mitchell Performance Systems | December 06, 2015
Co-authored by Evan Mitchell, Senior Consultant, Mitchell Performance Systems
A great many restaurants worldwide manage to remain in business while playing lip service to the importance of a third dimension, the performance of front of house staff, especially with respect to handling the wine list with diners – giving advice, making recommendations, matching to tastes, and creating a wine dialogue that is engaging not patronizing. Rather than being targeted as an opportunity to be tactically exploited, this area of the business is so often taken for granted. An attitude that's expensive in many ways. Lamentably, standards in this area are universally mediocre. So any establishment that masters this personal dimension, and it's far easier than many think, will register strongly on the customer's judgmental radar – and reap the benefits across the board.
The Third Dimension of Restaurants
A restaurant business can be viewed operationally and strategically in terms of three dimensions.
The first dimension comprises the products it's selling – the dishes on the menu, the drinks on the beverage list. Dimension two is made up of the physical trappings and accoutrements, all of which come together in one word – ambience.
These first and second dimensions dominate the thinking of restaurant management and restaurant critics alike.
This leaves the third dimension, the restaurant front of house, as somewhat of an ugly duckling. The people side of any business is almost always the least interesting to management. It's not that they don't view it as important. But it's not the soul of the place, not the reason they started the business, and it's difficult – in fact, often a pain in the neck. The consistent lack of experience (the inevitable consequence of high turnover), the relatively young age of staff, the communication issues endemic in a shift operation, these combine to make the third dimension in restaurants an ongoing problem to be managed, rather than an opportunity to be capitalized on.
So, what is the opportunity, and how can it be used to advantage?