Are You Properly Loving And Kissing Your Customers?

March 28, 2009 by · Comments Off on Are You Properly Loving And Kissing Your Customers? 

When was the last time something stopped you in your tracks? The cover of Fast Company magazine stopped me. The graphics looked like those on a box of Tide detergent, with the red and yellow circles. The cover text read, “YOU, The Brand Called You. You Can’t Move Up If You Don’t Stand Out.” I thought, “This is so true”.

I’ve read that the average person is bombarded with 3,000 advertising impressions a day. Whatever the number, in order for you to move up, you have to stand out from those 2,999 other impressions. You, and most importantly everyone that works for you, need to stand out, so that you are the one impression your customer remembers. You become “top of mind.” I believe that for your business to stand out, and move up, your focus has to be SERVICE. When I speak on “4 Walls Marketing,” I don’t talk about how to get people to your business. I address everything that happens once you get customers within your “4 walls”, and that’s all related to service.

Before we talk about service, are you covering the two basics? (1) A quality product (2) at a fair price. (If you’re competing on price alone, you can stop reading now). If you have the basics, great! But, so does your competition. That just keeps you in the pack. You’ve got to do more to be in the lead. Service is truly the competitive edge today. I recently read an article that said one shouldn’t exceed customer expectations, one should just give satisfactory service. I say, “baloney!’ When you are a customer, do you want satisfactory service. I don’t remember satisfactory service, do you? I remember great service.

Great service is when I feel the love and kisses. (You can’t be kissing your customers, literally, unless of course, you know them really well). But the customer needs to feel the kisses, feel the love. They know you care, really care and really value them. It’s that kind of service that will make you stand out and become “top of mind.” Do your customers feel your love? When’s the last time your service stopped your customers in their tracks? The key to standing out is making sure that everyone that works for you knows the importance of “loving and kissing” the customers.

How To Love and Kiss Your Customers

March 28, 2009 by · Comments Off on How To Love and Kiss Your Customers 

What is really good service? Ask five different people and you’ll get five different answers. Attentiveness? YES! The ability to give your full and undivided attention to each and every one of your customers. Anticipation? Yes! The ability to anticipate what the customer wants before they ask for it. Making you feel important, special, welcome and “at home?” YES!!

What is really great service? It’s whatever makes the customer feel really good!

Because great service means so many different things to so many different people, I felt the need to express it simply. I call it my “M versus E theory” — Motion versus Emotion. Most people are “just going through the motions” everyday…..”Can I help you?” “Thank you for coming.” “Have a nice day.” “Cash or charge?” They’re not rude, they’re not completely indifferent (well, some of them are). They’re like little robots.

But every now and then you feel an emotional connection. And I truly believe that is what great service is all about. When I talk about outsmarting, outselling and outservicing the competition, the biggest key is connecting with your customers. When you give them love and kisses, they know you really care about them, and really value them. When this happens, your customers will feel good about spending their money, and will continue to come back and spend more money, as well as telling everyone else about you!

When was the last time you felt really valued and cared for as a customer? I asked that question at a recent presentation I gave, and the participant said that she spent twice as much money as she had planned, because she had an emotional connection with the salesperson. Loving and kissing your customers is about just being “totally present.” You cannot afford to “just go through the motions,” you need to create emotional connections with all your customers!

The Art of Helping Your Customers Buy

March 28, 2009 by · Comments Off on The Art of Helping Your Customers Buy 

I don’t believe you should ever use the words “suggestive selling” in your establishment.  In my opinion, it implies a sort of pushiness that most waiters and customers strongly dislike.  Instead, I suggest that you show your restaurant staff how they can “help your customers buy,” so that they enjoy their dining experience to the fullest.

The first thing you need to do is insure that your staff knows that their main responsibility is to make every customer they come in contact with walk out of your establishment feeling really good about spending their money!  When this happens, your guests will want to return and spend more money. In addition, they’ll tell friends about you.  So keep in mind that “helping your customers buy “is not a one time practice—it should be a recurring practice if you want to increase your restaurant’s popularity and success.

Impacting the bottom line

When it comes to increasing sales, you have three options.  1) You can sell more items per table to increase the guest check average, 2) You can institute a frequent diner club and increase the number of visits per customer, or 3) You can hope your customers will increase their party size on their next visit. In this article, I address increasing the guest check average.

To increase the guest check average, keep in mind that what worked in the 1980s and 1990s doesn’t work today. In recent decades, it was okay for waiters to simply read through specials as though they were half-heartedly reciting a script. In order to “help your customers buy,” your staff needs to do better. It would help if they understood my “M versus E Theory” –Motion vs. Emotion. To use this theory, ask, “Are you just going through the motions?” everyday or “Are you creating an emotional connection with each and every guest you come in contact with?”

What is emotional connection?

I believe emotion connection consists of a number of things, beginning with body language. Surprisingly, your body language communicates 55% of your message and is five times more powerful than your verbal message (Source: You Are the Message: Getting What You Want By Being Who You Are, Roger Ailes). Body language includes every part of your communication act that is not the actual spoken or written words used.  This includes your facial expression, eye contact, body movement, gestures and posture. Vocal pitch, tone, volume and intensity make up another 38 percent of your message, which leaves only 7 percent for the words you speak. What you say is only a fraction of what you are communicating. Your guests will always read visual signals over the verbal ones.  In other words, you are the message.

Emotional connection also encompasses building rapport.  When you’re in rapport with others you see things the way they do; you hear things as they sound to others; you’re even sensing and feeling or responding to a situation as others are. In some instances, this is easy, almost automatic. People do business with people that are like them. Your best friends are usually just like you behaviorally. Your favorite customers are usually just like you. So how do you create rapport with someone that is not just like you behaviorally? There are two easy ways to do this. First, determine how fast or slow their rate of speech is? Then, “pace them,” that is, match your pace and rate of speech with theirs, by slowing or accelerating your speech.  Second, observe and see whether they seem introverted (shy and reserved) or extraverted (outgoing). Introverts talk slower, and will appreciate you matching their pace. The opposite is true for extroverts.

How do you create an emotional connection?

A server can start an emotional connection with an initial greeting and then develop and enhance the connection with every contact he or she has with the guest. It encompasses what I call the Three R’s. Recognition, Responsiveness and Reassurance.

Recognition is greeting the guest within twenty seconds of being seated. It includes making eye contact, smiling and repeating a customer’s name at least twice during the meal. Eye contact is essential, since most people have negative or unfavorable impressions of people who have little eye contact. The most common assumption is that lack of eye contact means lack of honesty. On the other hand, good communicators and good listeners develop positive eye contact with other people. They perceive you as an honest, sincere, and confident person. In addition, a smile is a universal message of friendliness.  When you smile, you look and appear more confident and self-assured.  You set the mood and tone of each interaction, which allows your guests to feel more at ease and comfortable.

Responsiveness involves listening; you must listen to your customers to determine how you can “help them buy.” Responsiveness includes exploring and finding out their likes and dislikes and making a recommendation based on the information they have given you. When I go to a restaurant and don’t know what I want to eat, my favorite question I ask the server is, “If you could eat here right now what would you eat?”  A typical response is, “Everything’s really good.”  And my answer to that is, “I can’t eat everything on your menu, so pick something.”  They are clearly not creating an emotional connection! Some questions that great servers have asked me are, “What are you in the mood for?  Something light or more robust?  Do you like spicy food or more on the mild side? What’s the last great meal you had?”  All of these are open-ended questions, which engage the customer to talk.  It is part of the process of creating an emotional connection.

Listening and paying attention are crucial to responsiveness. Most people hear but don’t really listen. To be successful, you need to overcompensate in this area, since most people are inefficient listeners.  Tests by Dr. Lyman Steil indicate that right after listening to a ten-minute oral presentation, the average listener has heard, comprehended, accurately evaluated, and retained about half of what was said.  Within forty-eight hours, that drops another 50 percent to 25 percent effectiveness.  By the end of a week, that level goes down to about 10 percent or less.  Once you’re asked responsive questions, listen to your customers’ responses to “help them buy.” When you respond, be very specific and offer them two choices.  Two is very key, because you don’t want your guests to be overwhelmed with choices.

And lastly, Reassure your guests that they have made the right decision.  Reassurance validates the guest, and lets them know they’ve chosen the right restaurant as well as the right dish and the right server. Reassuring also involves repeating back the order and validating their selection at the time of the order.  For example, you could say, “You are going to love the special.  Everyone who has ordered it has raved at how good it is.”  Reassuring means always checking back in two minutes of delivering the order and reconfirming their selection.  “How does it taste? Is it cooked to your liking?”  When they respond with a yes, then you provide another reassurance of, “I knew you were going to love it.”

Emotional connection is never pushy, is always helpful and is all about validating your customer throughout the entire meal experience. When you and your staff understand the importance of connecting on an emotional level, you will have guests who feel really good about spending their money, who come back often and tell all of their friends about you!

Do You Know How To Have FUN At Work?

March 28, 2009 by · Comments Off on Do You Know How To Have FUN At Work? 

Work is supposed to be fun. It’s up to you to create an environment that allows your staff and managers to have fun and be excited about their jobs. I say if you’re not having fun, then you’ve probably made the wrong choice. Transforming your attitude and making the choice to make work fun is the power of positive programing . The key is to constantly focus on and reinforce the positives. Because the reality is, most people tend to focus on the negative. Too many times my experience has been that the person serving me acts like they’re “doing time.” It’s as if the sheriff pulled up, handcuffed them and brought them in to “do their time”– they’re prisoners. The question is, are you the jailer? Your positive or negative behavior directly affects all those people around you. And their positive or negative affects you as well. We all have attitudes based on our belief systems and what I’m talking about is whether you’re persistently positive or persistently negative during the course of your day. How do you start the positive programming process?

I’m convinced the first step is to have tons of PMS. Now, there’s two kinds of PMS: positive and negative. My girlfriend Susan’s husband says that negative PMS means “pack my suitcase.” And I say that the positive means “Positive Mental Spirit.” I’m convinced that PMS is like a giant bubble around your body and it’s invisible. The more good karma you have, the fuller it gets. You’ve got to protect and keep nurturing that bubble with positive thoughts. I know from firsthand experience there are people out there whose only mission in life is to try to mess with your bubble. You’ve heard the expression, “Don’t let that person burst your bubble.” Which is why you’ve got to keep your bubble full at all times. And full of positives, not negatives. Some people have toxic waste and excess baggage in their bubbles. Which kind of PMS do you exhibit and which kind do the people you work with exhibit?

So, how do you psyche yourself up when you have to do, or deal with something that isn’t pleasant or that you don’t like doing?

First you make the choice to either love it or hate it. What I do is think of how much worse my situation could be. I have a friend whose job entails meetings every day. Now that would drive me nuts, but hey it’s his job and he loves it. One morning in a phone conversation when I asked what he had going on, he said, “Oh my gosh, (heavy sighing) it’s not good because today is the @#*@ meeting.” My reply to him was, “What are you talking about? You LOVE  those meetings, those are your favorites!” To this day, once a month the dreaded @#*@ meeting happens, but now he says with delight in his voice, “ Oh boy, my favorite meeting is today! I LOVE @#*@!

The point is, he has made a conscious choice to not let those meetings be unpleasant and set himself up for a bad day. So, how do you have fun at work? What thoughts are you choosing to fill your mind with today? And last but not least, for those of you who employ Generation X or Y (those born after 1964) they expect to have FUN at work!

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