Can it really be this simple?

Can it really be this simple?

Recently, I had a girls night out with high school friends I had not seen in a long time. The evening included drinks and dinner in a small south Texas town where Deb, our server, was the star of the show. She was amazing. Since it had been a while since my friends and I were together, you can imagine the enthusiastic level of our “catch up” chit chat. We ordered drinks before dinner and took some time to decide on the entree. 

Deb, the superstar waitress, delivered our drink order and gave us plenty of time to look over the menu. Part of the charm of most restaurants in the Texas Hill Country is that you can expect to wait for your food. Everything is cooked fresh and they seem to move at a slower pace compared to the big city franchise restaurants. 
Sensing the length of the wait and being aware of an up-sell moment, Deb served our meal and asked if we would like a second round of drinks. My friend stepped up and said yes for everyone. I had driven to the restaurant so I quickly declined the round two offer and declared myself the designated driver. This is when the “simple” magic happened.  

Deb retrieved drinks for the rest of the table and gave me a pleasant surprise. She said, “Since you are the designated driver, we would like to offer you a soda or tea on the house.” This was such a nice surprise. I rarely indulge in adult libations and often declare myself the designated driver. I’ve never had anyone offer to pay for my sweet tea and I’m a big sweet tea fan! Don’t get me wrong. I never mind paying for my non-alcoholic beverage. However, this simple gesture was a Big Deal. Deb’s actions made me feel so good. It was such a nice touch and unexpected surprise. 

I enjoyed the rest of the evening with my friends. We all enjoyed our food, conversation, drinks, and FREE sweet tea! I share all this to say it doesn’t have to be complicated. Deb was aware of her audience; it was a girls night out; we were not in a hurry and enjoyed her checking in on us, but never felt rushed. Her gesture of offering the complimentary drink to me was an above and beyond step. It wasn’t overly complicated and made a big impact on my experience. 

Simply stated, if you work as a server, it is the little things that make a BIG difference. Can you guess how that “paid off” for superstar Deb? I’ll be back. I’ll be bringing my friends. Oh, it’s a given that she got a 20% + tip as well. What simple thing could you do to create a “BIG Experience” result? 

Top 5 Tips to Grow Group Sales

Top 5 Tips to Grow Group Sales

Want to grow your group sales? Don’t even know where to begin? Sales can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. This week, we put together our top tips for growing group sales.

Have a Sales Champion

There is nothing more important to growing group sales than a dedicated sales champion. A sales champion inspires the whole center to be the best to keep guests coming back time after time for events. Imagine calling your food purveyor to inquire about a new product. How would you feel getting someone on the phone who doesn’t know what they are selling and couldn’t answer your questions? Even worse, what if no one ever answered the phone? When booking events, parents say they look for these things:

  1. Someone has to answer the phone. In today’s busy world, parents don’t have a lot of time, if they call now, answer now, or if not, they are moving on to the next venue on their list.
  2. The person who answers the phone needs to be friendly, know the product, and be knowledgeable or they lose trust.

The sales champion may be one of the most important roles in the center. How do you make sure they are staying on track and increasing sales? They have to be involved with the goals and that leads us to tip number 2.

Get a Scorecard with KPI’s in Place

KPIs are Key Performance Indicators. It is your goal broken down into mini weekly goals. KPIs are what keep us on track toward achieving our objectives. A scorecard is a place where we put those goals and track them each week. Make sure they know what their goals are,  and have them tracked. It’s easy to see when you are off track and get ahead before it’s too late.

Outbound Efforts

Don’t wait for business to come to you. There will always be clients who call the center to book events because they are already guests and know how great you are. Reach out to new businesses and expand your network! Plan each day with a power hour to kick start your day. Nothing is more important than to plant the seeds and watch the harvest come in. If we allow sales to come merely through inbound efforts, it will be too late to recover when the phones go silent.

Call Everyone!

What do arcade games, laser tag, or bowling have to do with a dentist office or mechanic’s business? EVERYTHING! It doesn’t matter what industry people work in, everyone has holiday parties. Even more have team building events, summer picnics, team appreciation, and more. If they don’t, why not put the thought in their head? Stay away from the temptation of thinking a certain business would never use your facility for their small, medium, or large events because you may just be surprised.

Get Out in The Center and Talk to Guests

Our sales teams shouldn’t stay in an office all day. A great way to get a break and be productive is to get out of the office, into the center, and talk to guests who are already there.
Summer is a great time to be out in the center. Look for parents on laptops, for example. They may be working from home, and you could talk with them about what kind of events their company has and even get contact information for the person who plans the events. The point is, you will get loads of feedback about why they love your center, what keeps them coming back, and maybe even a recommendation to a friend or business.

Bonus! Learn Sales Processes that Work!

Our upcoming August Advanced Sales Conference is a great way to get your team on the right track!  We are getting together with a bunch of extraordinary people just like you on August 21st & 22nd at Jake’s Unlimited in Mesa AZ.  (I know, it will be HOT), but fortunately, all the work we will do is inside Jake’s beautiful facility!

Tips for Great Guest Service

Tips for Great Guest Service

A few weeks ago my mom and I went to dinner at the Cracker Barrel in Kerrville, TX. I asked if we could be seated in Stephen’s section. We had had Stephen before and he was phenomenal. He even has four stars on his apron to show it!

Stephen wasn’t there and we were seated in Ndiaye’s section. Ndiaye had only one star on her apron which I thought was not a good sign and she may be a new and this isn’t going to be as good an experience as it was with Stephen.

Boy, was I wrong!

We will return to Cracker Barrel because Ndiaye did everything to provide us with a great guest service experience. I think we could all learn something from her. This week I want to share some tips on what your team can do to give great guest service.

1. Patience

On a busy Saturday, this can be difficult sometimes. You have someone walk in, they don’t know what they want, and the line is getting longer and longer. It’s easy to get frustrated and start telling them about everything you have, confusing them more. You can be patient and expedite the process if you qualify them to help narrow down their choices and help guide the decision. Your patience will go a long way and help them create a better guest experience from the get-go.

2. Connection

One of the first things Ndiaye did was to connect with us. It may not be a big deal to most people, but she noticed my mom and I are both left-handed. It’s one thing we left-handers always notice, so when she brought it up, the conversation ensued. Ndiaye made us feel special in an authentic way since we all had that one thing in common.

The connection can be as simple as asking how their day is or finding something in common with them. We want our guests to feel like they have a relationship with a real person, not a robot. When we connect with our guests, we create relationships that build trust with our people and our business.

3. VIP Red Carpet Treatment

Have you ever seen how people act when a limo pulls up to the front door? Everyone kind of scrambles around to see who the limo is picking up and then do everything they can to put their best foot forward. If they are in a limo, they must be important, right? If we can teach our team that every guest is a VIP who just stepped out of a limo, they will come back more often and share their wonderful guest experience with others.

4. Go the Extra Mile

Ndiaye did a great job. She was far from the rising one-star on her apron. She was attentive with our order, the touches at our table, and always had a smile.  Mom always wants to take an extra blackberry jelly or two home with her and Ndiaye made it happen with a smile.

Our amazing waitress Ndiaye!

Before we left, I let her know I was going to brag about her to the manager and that she needed four-stars on her apron. She had only been working there for a few weeks but was a natural pro. I judged this book by the cover and was sorry in the end. I now have several servers I can count on at this location.

Does your team have all the tools they need to provide great guest service? If you’re not sure, schedule a business check up with us today. We would love to help.

 

 

A Desire to Serve & It Shows!

“A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.”  Henry Ford

A Desire to Serve

I had breakfast with a friend of mine last week at a 50-year-old restaurant near downtown Fort Worth. That establishment may have the BEST example of a business that exudes a real “culture of service”I’ve ever seen. Was it a five-star place? NO. Look it up. The Ol’ South Pancake House. It’s what you would think, except bigger!

They had lots of seats and plenty of staff. When we arrived, they found us a table (booth) as quickly as possible. There was a slight wait, but the host was so pleasant. She seemed glad to see us. Neither of us had ever been to this location, but honestly, it felt like we were part of the family.

Once seated, we were greeted by the BEST server I’ve ever had. The only way I can describe Jennifer is that she was genuinely joyful to serve our breakfast. She smiled. She verbalized how happy she was we were there. She was interested in us having the best thing for breakfast based on dietary needs and desire.

Get Your Staff Enthusiastic

Listen, I don’t know how to tell you to help your staff get enthusiastic about the choices your guests make, but I can tell you as a guest, I LOVE it! The word that comes to mind about this server is authentic. She wasn’t faking it. She was happy and joyful. She had a genuine desire to serve, and it showed.

Maybe that’s the interview question we need to ask prospective or current employees. “How would you rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 when it comes to serving others, with 1 being I’m a help yourself kind of person and 10 representing a burning desire to serve others?” Then I would ask for an example of a time when they exhibited that kind of service.

A Spirit of Service

Back to Jennifer. She was friendly and tuned into the fact that my friend and I were going to visit a while. She never interrupted inappropriately yet tended to our every need. At one point during breakfast, my friend said, “Jennifer makes me want to ask her for one more thing just so she’ll come back to the table!” I’m telling you this woman was gifted with a “service spirit.” I know that may sound “woo-woo,” but it was just awesome!

We got to looking around, and you know what, the place was full of Jennifers. Every server was fully engaged when they were with a table. We even noticed a cranky couple at a table near us. Their server seemed to make it her mission to lighten up this meal for Mr. and Mrs. Cranky. It worked.

I think it may have had something to do with the fact that when she delivered breakfast, she did so with an enthusiastic, “Incoming!” and served them eggs and bacon in a royal sweeping style. You had to laugh. You have to get happy even when you are cranky! It’s bacon and eggs for crying out loud, and to me, it looks super important to the folks at the Ol’ South Pancake House for it to be a meaningful and fun part of each of their customer’s day. That’s a culture. They all believe what they are doing is important and they are consistently delivering service at a level I haven’t seen in a while! It was so honest and genuine.

Jennifer, if you see this…..I mean it, YOU are the best server I’ve ever had.

Wouldn’t it be cool for your guest service people to get tagged with that message?

First Class Is Fun

First Class is FUN!

It’s Easy to Appreciate First Class When You’ve Ridden Coach First!

I’ve had this thought on my mind for months. However, I just could not get the words out. It felt like maybe I was bragging and that is not my intent.

I am an “other side of the tracks” gal. I don’t believe I grew up poor but we were not rich. My husband and I started our lives together at a very young age and raised three children. I’m the kind of person who places a HIGH value on fun and always look for a way to make the most of any situation.

Many moons ago, I got fed up with the commercialism of Christmas and thought, “Why don’t we do something as a family that would make a grand memory?” My children were 15-21 and, as a family, we decided that a cruise would be GREAT fun! So, I went on a frugal hunt for how we could make that happen for the five of us.

We found an inexpensive, five-day, two indoor cabins, out of Galveston, cruise to Mexico. That worked great. My college girls met dad, Jordan, and me in Houston and we had the time of our lives. Those indoor cabins seemed great. It was super dark, which made sleeping easier and we only used those cabins to sleep, bathe, and prep for the next game of bingo on the ship! What could be better?

Fast forward 13 years. Everyone is older. Life is pretty darn good. That oldest child supports herself at a pretty high level and so mom and daughter have great fun cruising together. We have upgraded the accommodations and that’s my point. I can find lots of good things about the cheap seats. If that’s what I need to do to take the cruise, that’s what I’m going to do. However, Les and I got exposed to “The Haven” in May and I may be super-spoiled for the rest of my life!

I just finished our second “Haven Suite” cruise this year. We traveled on a wonderful seven-day cruise from Spain, through Italy, and France last week. I did not hesitate to book “The Haven” suite. The service and the amenities are well worth the cost and today, we are in a position to afford that kind of experience.

I share this story NOT to brag but to encourage you to create those VIP exclusive experiences for your guests. They will pay more. Obviously, your guests will expect more. You can make it worth it to them and to your business. Maybe you have a VIP suite or exclusive (skip the line services). Talk with your staff about what they believe you could do to create that exclusive (expensive) event. Make it “worth it” to you and to your guests.

The VIP treatment feels good. As a matter of fact, I am just giddy about the Haven experience. It’s awesome. I don’t know that I could appreciate it as much as I do if I had not first experienced the interior cabin. So, my advice to you is to create experiences that are affordable to everyone AND work hard enough to give yourself the opportunity to upgrade along the way!

Be Kind and Do What You Say


If you didn’t already know, last week we were at Bowl Expo in Las Vegas. It’s always a great week for us. We spend months planning since we have our quarterly leadership team meeting. We bring our entire team out for a week of learning, the trade show, and team building.

I have to say the week started off a bit rough. I arrived on Sunday and thought I was 100% over the jetlag of traveling from Jakarta to Los Angeles to Houston and then back west to Vegas. I was in for a big surprise when I got to the Mandalay Bay.

I’m a Type A personality. You know, I plan every minute if I possibly can and I had a plan to land, run a few errands with Nancy, check in, work a few hours, eat dinner, work a couple of more hours and get to bed for our leadership team meeting the next day. Things didn’t quite go as planned.

The check in line was longer than the lines I had just seen at Disneyland the week before! Yup, I’m sure you are nodding your head if you checked in to the hotel on Sunday. It took over three hours. I was tired and exhausted and I knew since they only had five people checking everyone in, they were probably as frustrated as we were.

When it was finally my turn, I wanted to be sure I went in with the right mind frame as I have worked in the hospitality industry for the past ten years. So, I asked the girl how her day was going, tried to make small talk, and just asked if it was usually long lines like this. Instead of just saying, “No, not usually. It’s because we are a little short staffed,” she says to me in her frustrated don’t you get it voice, “We don’t have enough people. We are coming of winter so we have all these people to train and they worked 12 hours today and had to go home. They can’t work more.” Of course, I wanted to say, “Chill! I just asked if it was normal” but I understood.

As we were completing the check in process and I said, “I know this isn’t common but is there any chance you could do something since I had to wait so long?” She said she could comp the resort fees or give food credit. I knew I wanted wifi and that was probably the best value so I took it. To my disappointment, I received the bill and they hadn’t removed the resort fees so now I have to ask them to refund those.

I’m sure it was a tough day for her and she probably had no idea that it had been a tough few days for me as well between traveling and caring for my father who’s battling cancer. We have to remember that we need to do what we say we are going to do and we need to keep in mind we never know what someone is going through.

Next time you have someone at your center who comes off aggravated or downright mean, be kind. Take a step back and recognize you don’t know what they’re going through. When you tell them you are going to do something, whether it’s sending a person to fix a game, or fill tickets, or make a fresh pizza, do it. Don’t wait. Do it immediately and make things right. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

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