How Top Restaurants Avoid the End of Hospitality

By now, we’ve all shared the February New York Times article “Restaurants to Customers: Don’t Call Us, We Won’t Call You.”

It’s about a growing trend in restaurants – of communicating only by email or text, not phone.

In the article, one restaurant owner complains that, to talk to guests, “to pay someone $15 an hour or whatever is outrageous.”

At what point does hospitality become more trouble than it’s worth?


A Real-Life Answer to That Question

Last week, I planned to head to a restaurant I had never visited before to meet a friend who frankly identifies as directionally challenged, even with support from Siri, and needed help.

Their location? In a multi-block mixed-use development.

I called them to find out what landmark existed next door. What neighboring store would I recognize to be able to find them?

But there was nobody to answer that question.

They had joined the “we don’t have a phone” movement.

They did have a text option, however, so I texted.
Fifteen minutes later I received a texted address miles from the location. Then the agent told me they had no idea what existed nearby, texting me, “We do not have the exact location.”

I had lunch somewhere else.


Restaurants Move in One of Two Directions

Some restaurants sell food and have atmosphere, and abandon hospitality; others win by stressing hospitality.

As this divide continues, guests choose which they want to pay for.

My clients – successful owners of multi-unit restaurant companies – come down on the side of hospitality.

They are the Davids who do hospitality better than any big company Goliath.


Conduct a Hospitality Check on Your Restaurants

To stay ahead of the competition, the best operators perform “hospitality checks.”

  1. They go to competing restaurants to find things competitors do better than they do – not to criticize those restaurants.
  2. They challenge their people to connect every action they take to a guest benefit.
  3. They practice what I call “mindful dining” in their own restaurants – using awareness techniques to see their restaurants from the guest point of view.
  4. They make hospitality part of their culture and make sure people treat hospitality as more important than money.

Any operator who runs a “hospitality check” on their own restaurants creates a list of opportunities to talk about, objectives to build more effectively into education and training programs, and new measurements of success.

The payoff is increased revenue and profit – outrageously bold, unusual, and startling.

Over to you. What has the “hospitality check” you conducted revealed?  What actionable items will allow you to reap the benefits?