Unlocking Success in the Hospitality Business: Beyond Customer Service

Nov 27, 2023

In the restaurant industry, hospitality is a defining element of our culture. We’re a unique breed in the business, thriving on teamwork, human interaction, and a passionate work ethic, all dedicated to serving others.

A common question arises: What sets apart excellent customer service from the true essence of hospitality? It’s a simple yet significant distinction. Customer service, even when exceptional, fulfills the basic expectations of a transaction – the exchange of money for goods or services. It’s the bare minimum, the “given” in any business deal. On the other hand, hospitality transcends these expectations, aiming to make customers feel pampered, akin to celebrities. When genuine hospitality is at play, customers sense the commitment feeling supported and valued.

However, the difference doesn’t stop there; it extends to the establishment’s culture, influencing the bottom line and the ability to scale while maintaining brand loyalty.

The Cultural Shift

Regardless of the industry or its role, we are all fundamentally in the “people business.” Beyond selling products or services, we sell a hospitality experience. Transforming transactions into interactions becomes the core focus when prioritizing people, starting with our internal customers (employees). This shift lays the foundation for a people-centric culture.

The Role of Culture

Company culture isn’t just about core values and mission; it’s also about the people who contribute to it. Employees are invaluable assets, serving as the frontline ambassadors of your culture to customers. By fostering a culture rooted in hospitality, businesses unlock myriad benefits, with employees providing priceless feedback for continuous improvement.

People and the Bottom Line

In every C-level meeting, the bottom line takes precedence. While financial metrics are crucial, the responsibility for making those numbers work falls on your people’s shoulders. Despite the often-heard mantra of “People, Process, and Technology,” people are frequently relegated to the third tier. Yet, they are responsible for creating a hospitality environment and upholding processes with technology as a supporting backdrop.

The Cost of Turnover

Labor costs, particularly employee turnover, constitute a significant portion of a restaurant’s expenses. The Gallup research indicates that the cost of replacing a disengaged employee is a staggering 34% of their annual salary. This cost, when multiplied, reveals the actual impact on the bottom line.

Building a Positive Culture

A positive, people-focused culture becomes the solution to the turnover problem. By becoming the employer of choice and attracting the right people, businesses enhance their bottom line through increased staff attraction and retention.

Scaling with Brand Loyalty

Creating a strong company culture that embodies the spirit of hospitality across all operations is the key to safely scaling while maintaining brand loyalty. Consistency in core values, mission, and vision ensures brand continuity and fosters brand loyalty. A documented hospitality charter guides employees to deliver authentic hospitality, setting the business apart in a crowded market.

In the restaurant industry, the establishment and delivery of authentic hospitality differentiate it from mere service. This emphasis on genuine hospitality is the essence of our industry, setting the stage for a memorable and distinctive customer experience. It’s not just about customer service; it’s about creating lasting connections and an atmosphere that stands out in a competitive landscape.