Resources utilized to address the logical aspects of the process miss the point entirely. Marketing efforts trying to convince some one how logical it is to come to your café will yield no visitors. McDonald’s “I’m lovin it” tagline works because it connects on an emotional level with the customer. Touch them emotionally and you will create a customer advocate because emotion trumps logic!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
So, if you want to use curiosity to attract more ideas (and more customers!), follow this four-step game plan:
1. NOTICE. On a daily basis, take the time to stop what you’re doing and say things like, “Huh. That’s weird,” or “Now that’s interesting…”
2. EXPLORE. Study ordinary things intently. Then, start a dialogue. Ask other people questions like, “So, why do you think she said that?” “Hey, did you guys notice that?” and “It would be interesting to see if…”
3. RECORD. Remember, if you don’t write it down, it never happened! So, consider keeping a Curiosity Journal. Make daily entries about things you noticed and what you learned from them.
4. EXPAND. Continue to learn, ask and research these new ideas you’re curious about. Constantly run them through your personal filter of expertise by asking, “How does this fit into my picture of the universe?”
Monday, November 26, 2007
"…There are just a lot of people here worried about higher costs and debt, people we know who are trying to save enough just to make their house payments."
The slowing economy is giving restaurants heartburn, with experts calling this the worst period for eateries in years…
“…But the chains that appeal to a less affluent crowd are feeling it, and they were not prepared to weather a sudden challenge.
"These chains need to be rejuvenated and given a new life. Their menus are too similar. In discussions with consumers in focus groups, you often hear that they can remember a commercial advertisement, but they couldn't remember whether it was for an Applebee's or a TGI Friday's or a Ruby Tuesday. It was a sea of sameness," said consultant Paul of Technomic.”
Sea of sameness is the antithesis of creating customer advocacy. Yes, there are economic conditions over which you as a restaurateur have no control. The customer experience is what you have control over. Focus on creating a memorable experience that is worthy of telling other people about. Focus on creating customer advocacy and avoid the adventure of drifting in a sea of sameness!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
“So if you don’t go to business school to learn how to start a business, where do you go?
I think the best way to learn to start a business is to work in a start up or small company that is in the industry you are interested in, and take on as much responsibility as possible.
The next best way is to just start one.”
That is how simple it is folks, just start one! Remember courage is ability to function in the presence of fear, not the absence of fear.
the Golden Ratio and the Golden Section. Approximated as 1.618, the Golden Mean plays a prominent role in math, science, and art. Mathematicians know it as “phi” - the ratio between number pairs in the Fibonacci series. Biologists find it in the proportions of Nautilus shells and leaves. Architects, painters, and sculptors have incorporated the ratio into their works because it seems to impart a pleasing balance. The facade of the Parthenon, considered to be one of the most perfectly proportioned buildings in history, matches the Golden Ratio.
The Golden Ratio creates a pleasing balance, a natural harmony in the spatial environment. Ratios in harmony soothe the spirit below the level of awareness. The sensory experience occurs below the conscious level. Make your guests feel harmonious by utilizing in your restaurant design the Golden Ratio!
“…By focusing on trying to get money, you’re missing the point. The point is to provide value to others. This means serving people in a way they aren’t already being served, in a manner that aligns with your unique creative self-expression. Share what only you can share. Express what only you can express in the way that only you can express it…
…Try to look past your own needs and recognize there’s a pretty interesting world around you. Through your actions you can have an impact on it, for better or worse. Think about how you can provide something that people want or need in a way they aren’t already being served, something that will make a positive difference. Then act on it.”
Focus entirely on the customer and then act upon it. A bias for action is tantamount. Too often we spend our energy preparing to act, yet take no action. We have the resources all about us, however we do not use them.
Focus on the customer and acting upon that focus is the only way to break through Mental Blocks!
“A canvas was needed to show the world. Ideas are great but unless you find a way to share the idea then no one will see it, no one will buy into it.
Only through the brush, the paint, the canvas, the easel coming together with Picasso was the painting born. No matter how talented you always need a diverse set of resources around you to bring the dream alive”
Two points need emphasis when you are creating lasting value, 1) there are many variables that go into creating your masterpiece restaurant, 2) those variables need you to organize them. Anna’s example above, a brush, paint, canvas and easel does not create a Picasso. The artist creates value by utilizing the resources.
“Restaurants can't just be concerned with good food, good service, and good ambience anymore. Experiential branding is a restaurant's opportunity to build lifelong relationships with guests.
The guest experience is everything. Operators must ensure the restaurant's brand is in action through all touch points, including culinary offerings, service, uniforms-- even wall decor-- to win credibility and loyalty with customers.”
Creating customer advocacy is a competitive advantage is an increasingly commoditized marketplace.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
The secret to happiness is to accept all that comes along with Thanksgiving and want for nothing more.
The secret to wealth is to give away the first ten percent of all you earn until you can give it all away.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Restaurants and Institution’s article “Some Deliciously Unpuritanical Thanksgiving Menus” reviews some of the creative menu’s for an increasingly large percentage of the population.
“More than 10% of Americans dine out on Thanksgiving Day, according to the National Restaurant Association, and restaurants are stepping up to the plate with mouth-watering holiday menus. Some evoke home-spun memories with traditional fare, others favor more-contemporary seasonal recipes and the rest fall somewhere in between. To satisfy the diverse dining preferences of any family or group, many operators hedge their bets by offering tastes from across the spectrum”
…further 53% Percent of consumers who use restaurant-prepared takeout items for all or part of their holiday meals.
National Restaurant Association
Increasingly consumers are coming to the realization that the essence of Thanksgiving is sharing abundance with family and friends, not slaving away in the kitchen and not being able to enjoy your guests. This realizations creates business opportunities for entrepreneurs. Are you up to the challenge of Americans choosing to dine out on Thanksgiving?
Sunday, November 18, 2007
The philosophy of negotiating that welcomes collaboration, creates joint value and treats all interaction as part of an ongoing relationship is preferable to limiting constructs of a zero sum win-lose proposition.
A restaurateur negotiates constantly with employees, suppliers, bankers, landlords, designers, architects and even customers. There are many great sources of references in the negotiation universe. Some are listed on the left hand section of this blog. I will explore other negotiating topics in future posts.
Silence is perhaps the most powerful gambit in your array of negotiating strategies. Whenever you are in any negotiating situation utilize silence. After someone ask you a question or completes a presentation, think about the question or the presentation, wait a breath in silence before responding. It is from the silence that clarity flows. When you have completed a presentation or asked a question, take a breath and remain still and silent. Be still and silent, do not disturb the silence, do not add anything else, do not try to judge what the other person or persons is thinking, do not help them with their answer, be still and silent.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
“ As strange as it seems, people hearing my “you are welcome” usually respond with a pause and a broad smile. Call me crazy, but I think using that simple phrase actually makes buyers feel better about their purchase.
If nothing else, it certainly makes me stand out in the world of selling.”
A guest has just enjoyed a delightful dining experience and feels that they have received value, in gratitude they say thank you. The response should be “you are welcome”. There are other opportunities to thank the guest for their patronage, however “You Are Welcome” should be the Answer to a Thank You!
Gerald Zaltman’s excellent book “How Customers Think” explores memories and how they relate to the perception of the customer experience. Our memories are unbelievably malleable, a work in progress, “not a single unchanging structure within the brain.”
“…how we remember an experience…hinges on whether the triggering cue for that memory is positive or negative. If a friend describes a positive dining experience, then we may recall our experience as less offensive than it actually might have been, if our friend describes a negative experience then even though we had a positive experience , we will tend to remember what could have been better.”
The challenge for restaurateurs is to create nothing but fantastic memories for everyone. There is also the notion of priming, leaving clues along the way below the level of awareness that enhance the experience. By way of example, if the guest who walks into your restaurant and sees nothing but happy smiling people, they will tend to be happy smiling customers regardless of their own experience.
A restaurateur’s work is never done, the design, the menu, the presentation, the customer interaction and after all that you need to deal with malleable memories!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
That's the conclusion of American economist Caitlin Knowles Myers. She, with her students as research assistants, staked out eight coffee shops (PDF) in the
It is also hard to attribute the following finding to a female preference for wet-skinny-soy-macchiato with low-carb marshmallows: The delays facing women were larger when the coffee shop staff was all-male and almost vanished when the servers were all-female.
I would suggest two additional questions could be asked 1) Does the theory hold in a wider cross-section of concepts (i.e. Italian, Mexican, Indian). 2) Ask how the experience was. Measuring time spent in the process does not address the quality of the experience in any fashion. Throwing this biased ill conceived study into the maelstrom does not seem to add much to the discourse or improve the silence.The study does not answer the question is someone Waiting for Good Joe?
There are two reasons that restaurateur’s are afraid to engage the customer. One, there is a concern that they might alienate the customer with the interruption. Two, there is this perception that the restaurateur needs to respond right then and there to the guest's answer.
Creating customer advocacy is all about engaging the customer so get over it.
Two, Blanchard’s view is that you owe the customer your undivided attention in listening to their answer, however you do not need to respond right then and there. That is a very liberating because restaurateur’s have this notion that they need to respond immediately to customer queries. Certainly the customer needs a response, however the response can be, “that is very interesting, Thank you I will consider the view you have graciously expressed to me today.” The response acknowledges the input of the guest, while allowing other variables to be factored into the decision.
Listen, then Respond!
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
The phone will learn your customers preferences and convey those preferences to other people your customer interacts with. Creating customer advocacy now is being integrated into Smart Phone Marketing.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
“The social context of eating has enormous impact on consumers’ experience. The experience includes how foods taste, what sounds seem pleasant or harsh, and what strikes a person as repulsive or appealing. The exact same dinner will taste different depending on whether one is dining with a close friend or an unpleasant stranger.”
If your guest’s frame of mind influences the perception of the dining experience, then what is a restaurateur to do? You can not put happy faces throughout the restaurant, can you? In a way you can. Servers always adjust the frequency and vigor of a table visit to the discussion that is occurring. If the guests need some space, an experience server picks up the clues and accommodates.
A guest in a happy frame of mind always seems to have a better dining experience than one in an unhappy frame. Make your place a happy one by doing the unexpected. Surprise you’re guest, smile, even if their frame is an unhappy one, reframe their experience. They came into your restaurant to solve an issue. Solve it for them and you will alter their experience regardless of the social context!
Monday, November 12, 2007
“The owner now came to the table, obviously a little miffed that a mere customer would have the temerity to willfully challenge their restaurant policy. Sir, is their a problem? he asked. No I responded, purposely allowing him to take the conversation to what ever next level he wished. My waiter says you want a salad with your main course sir. Yes? I responded. well sir, I’m afraid we can’t do that, it’s not our policy to change our servings from those described on our menu”
It seems unfathomable in this day of citizen marketers that any restaurateur would evoke that old discredited philosophy of not changing the menu policy, yet here is Lindsay’ example. In a long ago era some restaurants had the cache that they could do as they liked and you could leave if you did not like. Those days are forever gone. Today the customer not only has the expectation that the restaurant will be flexible, but also has the tools to punish the restaurant for refusing to be flexible.
There are times when a restaurant has to say no to a request. Those situations should be few and very far between. It is rarely a springboard to creating customer advocacy by Saying No!
“Bias occurs beneath the level of our awareness”
Two customer walks into your restaurant. One is a funky artsy dressed young woman with blue green orange hair, and knee-high black boots, the other is a woman with grayish hair in an understated blue pant suit. How do you and your staff react to these women? You are thin slicing.
Here is an interesting experiment that every restaurateur should do. Sit back and observe how your staff reacts to specific customers either when approaching the table or the counter. Notice your staff’s physiology as they interact with the customer, notice the reaction of the customer to how they are being treated and throw in some variables like having your server being especially nice to some one who might seem nice.
In a perfect world we would treat every customer that crosses our path the same, however as Gladwell’s book illustrates, we bring so much that is beneath the level of our awareness to the experience that it is very easy to incorrectly thin slice!
Sunday, November 11, 2007
“Those businesses that relegate themselves to the diminishing world of goods and services will be rendered irrelevant. To avoid this fate, you must learn to stage a rich, compelling experience."
Restaurants do not sell food and beverage, they sell experiences. The book actually does drill down even further by emphasizing that the rich compelling experience needs to be dynamic because the definition of experience continually evolves.Sell the Experience!
Saturday, November 10, 2007
“Three things you need:
1) the ability to abandon a plan when it doesn't work,
2) the confidence to do the right thing even when it costs you money in the short run, and
3) enough belief in other people that you don't try to do everything yourself.”
The elements that comprise the secret to success are finding out what the customer wants, formulate a plan to deliver them, execute that plan, adjust, execute, adjust, execute, adjust, execute. The courage and persistence to stay the course when all else is against you and the faith to trust people by letting go.
Easy really, these secrets to success!
“The way I see it, you have two options:
1) You can create something that you like and hope others like it, too. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t.
2) You can listen to your customers, determine what they want, then provide it for them.
Which option do you believe will be most successful?”
You are in business to create customers and have those customers tell others about you, otherwise it is just a hobby. The marketplace is a very able taskmaster that gives no quarter. If what you want to produce and what the marketplace wants are not in synch, a climatic battle will ensue and your business will not be victorious.
Business is about creating something the customer wants, hobbies are about creating something that you like!
Friday, November 9, 2007
“So, if your customers are not ACTIVELY telling their friends about your business…
1. That means you’re probably selling a dead brand.
2. That means you’re probably different, not unique.
3. That means you’re probably doing something wrong”
Address the problem immediately if you discover that your guests are not telling their friends about YOU.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
”Catering is decidedly mainstream. Today, record numbers of Americans are hiring others to do their cooking, from grocery-store deli managers to chefs at four-star restaurants.
"Catering has gone from being affordable only to the elite to a practical service for anybody and everybody," said Bonnie Fedchock, executive director of the National Association of Catering Executives in
Times are changing, not long ago no one thought about hosting a dinner party, holiday gathering or a backyard BBQ and having all the fixins catered. Now you will receive strange glances if you slave in the kitchen all day preparing for the party. Clearly there is an opportunity for an enterprising restaurateur.
NEW YORK - This is one rich cup of haute chocolate: A New York eatery is offering a $25,000 dessert bulging with top-grade cocoa, edible gold and shavings of a luxury truffle.
The Frozen Haute Chocolate was declared the most expensive dessert in the world on Wednesday by Guinness World Records.
The dessert is a frozen, slushy mix of cocoas from 14 countries, milk and 5 grams of 24-carat old topped with whip cream and shavings from a La Madeline au Truffle.
It is served in a goblet with a band of gold decorated with 1 carat of diamonds and served with a golden spoon diners can take home.
The dessert was created by Serendipity 3, a restaurant popular with tourists and once featured in a John Cusack movie."
Five elements are present in a correct response to customer interaction that did not go well.
Listen completely and totally to the customer. Do not interrupt or be distracted in any way. Give the customer your undivided attention for as long as it takes for the customer to express themselves.
2) Get mad with the customer.
Your restaurant let this customer down in some fashion. You as the restaurateur should be mad along with the customer.
3) Find how the customer would like to resolve it.
You have listened to customer and expressed your personal outrage at the failing of your restaurant, now ask the customer how they would like to resolve the issue. Do not offer suggestions at this point, simply listen.
4) Resolve it.
If the solution the customer suggests is quickly attainable, do it. If the solution is more complex, step back, tell the customer that you will review the suggested solution and get back to them at a specified time and then follow through
5) Say Thank You.
Implementing these five very simple steps will create customer advocacy in abundance. Your guest felt that an injustice was done to them in some fashion, they are only seeking to be heard. Listening is the critical component of this equation.
When a mistake occurs in your restaurant there is an opportunity to make a connection with your guest by following the five simple steps of Service Recovery!
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
The menu, design, décor and quality of the ingredients, though very important, pale by comparison to the quality of service provided by your employees in creating customer advocacy.
A customer walks into your cafe and makes their way to the counter on a slow Sunday afternoon. Only one employee is working. The employee’s phone rings loudly with a song the customer does not recognize. The employee has a choice to make, answer the phone or quiet the phone and take care of the customer.
Without training the employee will choose to answer the phone and have a conversation while taking care of the customer. The signal that sends to the customer is the farthest thing from creating customer advocacy. The message the customer gets is that they are intruding on the employee’s conversation by having the audacity to come into the café and want to make a purchase.
Ken Blanchard’s book “Customer Mania!”, which chronicles the “do over” of YUM Brands into a customer focused organization, stresses the need for the organization to have a customer culture by inverting the traditional hierarchical pyramid of command and control. The process is all about empowering the employee that has direct contact with the customer with the ability to provide customer focused service.
The employee requires a substantial amount of investment before they achieve the goal laid out before them. This is a very difficult investment for many organizations. Organizations rationalize cost-benefit analysis saying that the employee after being thoroughly trained can leave and the vast investment in their training has a net negative return. This is the hallmark of a culture that does not have a customer focus.
Training should not be viewed as a one-time cost, the investment must be on-going. Training never ceases, reinforcement of ideas and principals is a continual process. Continual learning is the only vehicle to equip your organization’s front line with the ability to create customer advocacy!
The most important investment in your entrepreneurial career will be the investment in Human Capital!
Sunday, November 4, 2007
“What these experiments neatly demonstrate is that the taste of a wine, like the taste of everything, is not merely the sum of our inputs, and cannot be solved in a bottom-up fashion. It cannot be deduced by beginning with our simplest sensations and extrapolating upwards. When we taste a wine, we aren't simply tasting the wine. This is because what we experience is not what we sense. Rather, experience is what happens when our senses are interpreted by our subjective brain, which brings to the moment its entire library of personal memories and idiosyncratic desires. As the philosopher Donald Davidson argued, it is ultimately impossible to distinguish between a subjective contribution to knowledge that comes from our selves (what he calls our "scheme") and an objective contribution that comes from the outside world ("the content"). Instead, in Davidson's influential epistemology, the "organizing system and something waiting to be organized" are hopelessly interdependent. Without our subjectivity we could never decipher our sensations, and without our sensations we would have nothing to be subjective about. In other words, we shouldn't be surprised that different people like different bottles of cheap wine.”
The challenge for restaurateurs is that guests taste with their senses, their notions and their worldview long before the actual food reaches the taste buds. The above experiments created value by adding a different label to the bottle or red food coloring to white wine. These simple steps which did not change the taste of the wine, rather what changed was the perception of the wine by the guest. One on the many tools you have available is this ability to influence perception, by naming or describing a menu item, by framing that item in a different presentation, by changing the lighting in the room, by adding a tall palm plant to your décor or by changing the uniforms that servers wear. It is all perception, however thoughts create reality.
Even before the first sip, Wine thy name is perception!
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Patrick Williams at The Selling Sherpa writes:
“The big difference between those who excelled and those who did not was the ability to keep going back.”
Yoda advises “Do or do not, there is no try”
The only mountain you can not climb is the mountain that you do not climb. The only restaurant you can not open is the one you do not open. Persistence is the most powerful force on the planet, it has no equal because so few are willing to put forth the effort it mandates.
To excel in life or in restaurants one must master Persistence!
Friday, November 2, 2007
“I was eating lunch with an executive of a hotel company, in a restaurant located at one of his company’s hotels. He was talking about competitive threats, describing how companies in his category are constantly copying each other’s innovations. I said, “If I were your competitor, I could walk into this hotel and easily copy your physical product. I could study your service standards, and copy them too. What I could not copy are the personal relationships you have with your customers. Those relationships would be impenetrable to me.”
In an age of interchangeable products and easily duplicated services, customer relationships have become one of the most powerful competitive advantages available to a business. Do you agree?”In a restaurant, your competitor can copy your design, layout, menu, processes, color scheme and even the art on the walls. Creating customer advocacy is about connecting with your guest on a personal level. That connection is everything, cultivate it, nurture it, be responsive to it and you will have a Competitive
Thursday, November 1, 2007
“By their nature, empire builders are obsessives who focus relentlessly on their careers. They feel they have a mission to create. And something in life normally has to give. That means a partner must be accommodating: willing to sacrifice almost everything for the business and willing to put up with the ego of their ambitious other half.”
One creates to fulfill a life, sometimes the creation process destroys the very life one hopes to fulfill. A Pam Tillis song explains an entrepreneur’s relationship quite well “If you are coming with me, you need nerves of steel, because I take corners on two wheels”
Life is always on edge for the entrepreneur and spouse!