This week, we start a major new series in which Fred Sirieix, general manager at Galvin at Windows and star of TV's Michel Roux's Service reveals the art of delivering consistently outstanding service. In the first instalment, Fred speaks about quality of service, the importance of a clear business vision and his 10 golden rules of service.
Quality of service can make or break a hospitality business. Great service creates an enjoyable environment, drives return visits and ensures sustainable revenue. Bad service can drive customers away and damage your reputation. In the coming weeks, I'll be outlining how you can ensure your team delivers consistently outstanding service.
THE PROBLEM WITH SERVICE IN THE UK
It is tough to deliver excellent service in the UK. Much of the workforce is made up of foreigners or part-timers with little or no training. Few consider hospitality a viable career choice and many simply pass through until something better comes along. To make matters worse, the UK does not have a really strong hospitality and service culture - perhaps due to its strong class system and the fact that people see service as an industry to be avoided.
As a Frenchman who has lived in the UK for 20 years, I have long tried to understand why the hospitality industry is perceived the way it is in the UK for I believe service is a fulfilling career choice and one that more Brits should consider.
While once a culinary wasteland, the UK has undergone a gastronomic revolution since the arrival of the Roux brothers 40 years ago. Since then, chefs have dominated perceptions of the industry. But we are now entering an age where restaurants need to be about an experience rather than just being about food and chefs. Restaurants have to offer the whole package and front of house is an essential part of this.
SERVICE DEFINES YOUR ESTABLISHMENT
All restaurants will have different service standards but at its most basic level, service is about sharing an experience with your guests. Your service or hospitality style and standards say a lot about your business. The level at which you pitch your delivery will define the atmosphere of your restaurant. It's therefore essential to establish clearly what kind of service you are trying to achieve as a team, what you stand for and what your key business objectives are.
Whether in a roadside café or the Ritz, every guest should expect the phone answered swiftly and professionally, a warm smile and good eye contact, or their meal and drinks delivered swiftly and to the expected quality. Remember it is always better to under promise and over deliver rather than the other way round.
HAVE A CLEAR VISION
The vision, mission, values and objectives relate both to the business and to the staff. Some businesses have a written mission statement, outlining clearly what they want to achieve, their values and key objectives. Too often, they do not. I recommend creating a written statement, which can be shared, remembered and referred back to.
A business vision is basically a picture of your restaurant in the future. Your vision statement is your inspiration and the framework for all your strategic planning.
The vision applies to the entire restaurant and answers the question: "Where do we want to go?"
THE VISION STATEMENT
The creation of a vision statement allows you to articulate your dreams and hopes for your business. It's there to remind you at all times of what you are trying to build. So let your imagination go, and dare to dream and let your business vision capture your passion.
For example at Galvin at Windows our vision is: "We aim to give an amazing experience to each and every guest."
It is best to involve the team in formulating a simple and straightforward vision, this way everyone will be fully engaged with it. With regards to service, the style of the restaurant and your vision for it will ultimately give you the direction you need to take. But it critical to listen to staff and take on board their points if you want to improve and better the offering.
THE 10 GOLDEN RULES OF SERVICE
I have used the 10 Golden Rules of Service everywhere I have worked, they have helped me give clear direction and purpose while ensuring every member of the team knows where they stand and what is expected of them. These rules are the very blood that flows through the employees' veins and the whole of the business. They are the very essence of what true and proud professionalism is.
1. There can only be one person in charge at any one time.
2. The system is always in charge.
3. Help only comes if you ask for it.
4. Stay in position - stay in your station.
5. If you don't know, or when in doubt, ask!
6. Never be late.
7. Always look your best.
8. Treat others the way you would want to be treated.
9. Enjoy what you do.
10. Be nice.
THE ART OF SERVICE BOARD GAME
Fred Sirieix has created a board game to help restaurant and hotel owners, F&B directors and hospitality lecturers train high-quality service delivery. Called The Art of Service, the game challenges players to discuss concepts such as business vision, objectives and values. Participants follow the guest experience, from booking a table to leaving a restaurant and explore and discuss best practice at all points of the journey. The game provides a creative and participative forum for learning the essence of good service.
THE ACADEMY OF FOOD AND WINE SERVICE
The Academy of Food and Wine Service can offer more guidance on how to inspire your team to offer high-class hospitality. The professional body for front-of-house service, it is dedicated to promoting food and beverage service as a viable career choice and offers advice and training to raise standards across the industry. http://www.afws.co.uk" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">www.afws.co.uk