Posts Tagged ‘food & beverage’

Controlling Your Beverage Cart Losses

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Quick fixes usually do not address the underlying causes of problems.  By examining, improving, and documenting the process, you can establish underlying systems that will routinely handle situations.  When the bulk of situations in a business are handled routinely, more time is available for customer service and paying attention to details.

Attempt to follow the 80-20 rule.  If you have established routine system procedures for your operation, you are able to devote 80% of your efforts to 20% of the operation – the most critical details.  Look at how one recurring problem was solved with the development of an efficient system.

Joanne is the beverage manager in a high-end country club.  One of her responsibilities is the beverage cart service provided on the golf course.  The challenge presented by this service is a lack of inventory control over readily consumable and easily pilfered snack items.  Predictably, the club has ongoing problems.  After continually suspecting employees and worrying about unidentified losses, Joanne designed a system of checks and balances.

The beverage cart attendant is required to draw inventory from the golf course snack bar.  The snack bar attendant completes the inventory issue sheet and notes all issues as well as turn-ins at the end of the day.  The beverage cart attendant keeps track of sales on an inventory sold sheet.  Both forms are turned in to Joanne daily, giving her an easy way to compare both sales and inventory consumption.

The system is not foolproof, is subject to daily counting errors, and can be overcome by collusion among employees.  But for the most part, it works well and gives Joanne a routine tool to monitor beverage cart sales.  Systems don’t have to be complex or highly sophisticated; they just have to work.

Excerpted from Leadership on the Line:  A Guide for Front Line Supervisors, Business Owners and Emerging Leaders, Clarity Publications, 2006

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

Guest Blog: Training on the Go – A direct line to food service profits?

Monday, August 10th, 2015

Several years ago, the Peninsula Yacht Club was selected to be the club to implement the Hospitality Resources International Training on the Go (TOG) Program. Initially, the TOG program was met with some resistance from the front of house staff.  They felt that the program was another monotonous program whereby the dining room managers preach F&B mechanics to them for what seemed like hours.  Upon the staff’s recommendation, I changed the program’s delivery and made it involve the servers and bartenders more than the dining room managers.

In this new delivery, the servers studied a pre-determined module and then they were charged with presenting it to the rest of the staff.  This was the key to making the program work.  Now, servers would become teachers and would instruct their “class” in the pre-shift meetings.  There was no way to avoid having to teach a module as we required busboys, hostesses, servers and bartenders alike to instruct a class twice a month.

At first, the restaurant staff was enthralled by the alcoholic beverage information, especially the histories of liquors and wines.  This is the easiest part to teach because the 18-24 year olds seem to have an interest in learning about alcohol.  After they taught the beverage portion, we focused on foods and specifically our restaurant’s menu.  With the help of our chef, we were able to discuss the history of our menu choices, which wines would complement which entrees, and how to sell the daily features.  After the beverage and food modules were taught, we moved on to other important issues such as the steps of service, flow of the dining room, recovery techniques, etc. In the end, 94 modules were taught over a 16-month period.  Some of the more important modules were repeated.  After completing the modules in order, we have now begun to teach them in random order and allowing the staff to choose the module they wish to teach.

Once the TOG program was instituted and the bugs were worked out, several amazing things happened in our restaurant.  The first noticeable change was in the demeanor and confidence of the front of house staff.  Almost instantly, they became more comfortable discussing foods and beverages with members and guests and with making recommendations. Their newly gained knowledge of the preparations and histories of the food and beverages helped them to become more confident in their ability to answer members’ questions.  They looked forward to being asked about the history or preparation of certain items and the social interaction that was created when these questions were asked.

The second noticeable change was that our front of house staff turnover rate declined.  Our servers enjoyed coming to work and were not as apt to move on to another restaurant opportunity.  The restaurant staff felt more a part of the club and they enjoyed getting to know members more personally through their social interaction.  The staff no longer felt they were ‘going through the motions while waiting for the next new restaurant to open in the area.’

The third and most noticeable change was in the number of appetizers, desserts, and after-dinner drinks sold during the dinner shifts.  Just by gaining knowledge of these items, servers were able to discuss daily specials, suggestively sell at every table they were working.  The increase in the a la carte average check was immediate.  The servers’ confidence created an aura of professionalism and also caused a competitive nature in the restaurant.  Personal bets were being made to see who could up-sell the most wine or desserts.  Managers started offering a complimentary dessert to the server who sold the most after-dinner drinks.  The front of house staff loved the competition and it drove our sales to levels not seen in the past.  Of course, revenues followed.

To answer the question in the title of this article; “Is the TOG program a direct line to restaurant profits?” I offer the following evidence:

At the start of implementation, the club’s restaurant was experiencing a four-year decline in a la carte business.  This decline was, at the time, blamed on the poor economy before and after September 11th and a declining membership level.  In hindsight, these were only excuses for a more prominent problem.

Although the club’s membership level was declining, the average food and beverage revenue per member was holding steady at the 5-year average and the cover counts did not show a decline either.  Therefore, members were using the restaurant at a consistent rate in 1999, 2000, and 2001 up until 9/11.  What we noticed when looking at the revenue data was that the average check per member had declined drastically.  The data told us that members were continuing to dine in the restaurant at a steady rate, but they were spending less on each visit.  Our a la carte menu prices had not fluctuated during this period, so it led me to believe that we were doing something different in the dining room or, as I found out later, we were not doing some things that we had done in the past.

The TOG program was started in October of 2001.  Almost immediately, the average check increased and the number of appetizers and desserts increased as well.  Soon after, our alcoholic beverage sales increased, especially wine by the bottle, which shot up 200%.   In 2002, the program really took off.  By the spring of 2002, the up-selling competitions had begun and revenue increases were seen in appetizers, daily specials, desserts, after-dinner drinks, wine by the bottle and wine by the glass. For the 2002 year, the average F&B revenue per member increased 15% to $62.78 per month.  The trend continued in 2003 with revenues continuing to increase in 2004.  It is without question that implementing the Training on the Go program has had and continues to have a direct positive effect of restaurant revenues at the Peninsula Yacht Club.  If you think this program could help your club, visit the Hospitality Resources International website and download the TOG program.  It is a sure fire way to increase your restaurant’s revenues.

Blog written by:  Chris Conner, former General Manager, Peninsula Yacht Club; current COO/GM Cullasaja Club

Click here for individual topics of the food and beverage Training on the Go materials.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

Dining Service Tips

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Here are some random dining service tips:

  • Station Cleanliness.  Even if others are responsible for cleaning the dining room, double check the floor, table, and chairs to make sure they are clean for customers/guests/members.  Take action as necessary.
  • Table Settings.  Double check your tables to make sure the previous shift set the tables properly and all settings are complete, tableware wiped down, glassware clean, napkins properly folded, salt and pepper shakers wiped down and full, sugar caddy clean and stocked, and any other table detail checked.
  • High Chairs and Booster Seats.  Make sure they are clean, sanitized, and ready to go during service.  When you are seating a party is not the time to discover they’re not properly cleaned and sanitized.
  • Work as a Team.  Servers can accomplish so much more when working as a team then they can individually.  Think of your co-workers whenever you do something.  If something needs to be done, just do it, regardless of who noticed it.
  • Clean Up Spills and Clean as You Go. Spills must be cleaned up immediately as they present a slip and fall hazard.  Keep your stations clean as you go.  If you make a mess in the kitchen or pantry, clean it up.
  • Use Serving Trays.  Always use serving trays when serving cocktails and beverages.  This applies to alcoholic drinks, coffee, tea, and any other beverage where the glass or cup is not preset on the table.  When serving beverages on tables without cloths, always place a bevnap or coaster on the table first.
  • Learn Member Names or the Names of Regulars.  Check reservations so you can match names with faces.  Whenever members sign charge tickets, again reinforce your memory by matching names to faces.  Ask co-workers who a particular member or customer is if you don’t know – somebody must know!
  • Critical Information.  Never approach a table without knowing: daily specials, how they’re prepared, and prices; appetizer(s) of the day; soup(s) of the day; wines by the glass; special desserts; specialty drinks; and any other detail of the day’s offerings.  Without this information you’ll surely embarrass yourself.
  • Carry your Necessary Tools.  Always carry a pen, dup pad, daily food notes from pre-shift meeting, wine key, and a clean service cloth.   Even if your establishment is non-smoking, matches are necessary for those customers who wish to step outside for a smoke and come in handy for lighting candles and sterno.
  • Sidework.  Make sure you fully complete all necessary opening and closing sidework.  The idea is to be completely ready for any service need during the meal.  Likewise, your closing duties will prepare the dining room for the next shift and ensure the cleanliness and sanitation of the dining room and pantry.
  • Check Linen.  Make sure table linen does not have a “sour” smell.  If so, replace it and notify your supervisor.  Also ensure there is an adequate supply of clean linen to meet expected levels of business.
  • Responsible Beverage Service.  It is against the law to server underage individuals or to over-serve anyone.  Be aware of anyone who is drinking heavily.  Watch for slurred speech, inability to focus eyes, loss of motor skills, or blank expressions.  Alert management to any potential problem.
  • Condiments.  Before the meal period check any condiments that are served to tables in their original bottles to ensure bottles are clean.  If not, wipe down with a clean damp cloth.  This applies to various condiments such as ketchup, mustard, A-1 Sauce, hot sauces, etc.
  • Dishwash Station.  Do not overstack dishwash station.  It’ll just result in breakage and spills.  Try to help out if possible or make your supervisor aware of the developing problem.
  • Music. Music can be a pleasant accompaniment to any meal, but it can also be a source of irritation if played too loud or if the music is inappropriate to the crowd, the mood, or the occasion.  Most food service operations subscribe to a music service that provides a wide variety of music.  Selecting the most appropriate music for particular meal periods is an important element of establishing ambience.  Classical or contemporary jazz is often a good mix for evening meals, while lunch music can mix more popular and light or classic rock.  Regardless of selection, playing the music at an appropriate volume is of absolute importance.  Managers should establish guidelines for musical selections for each meal period.
  • Lighting.  Setting the appropriate lighting level is an important element of establishing the ambience in the dining establishment.  The lighting level will be determined by the time of day, weather outside, ambient light from the windows, the meal period, the mood you are trying to achieve, whether or not candles or votive lights are used on the tables, and any ancillary lighting such as wall sconces, etc.  Most dining areas are equipped with rheostat switches for their lights so that the lighting level can be adjusted.  Make sure to check the lights before each meal period to make sure the lighting level is appropriate to the occasion.
  • Sun Glare.  Many food service facilities have dramatic views from the dining room, sometimes overlooking the cityscape, 18th green, or maybe a lake or park.  While these views add much to the diners’ experience, they can also be a source of irritation when the bright sun shines into their eyes. So when the sun gets low, pay attention to whether or not it is shining in anyone’s eyes.  Close the blinds or drapes until the sun sets lower; then reopen them so customers can again enjoy the view.  Your consideration will be greatly appreciated.
  • Table Clearing. While it’s impossible to clear tables noiselessly, it is the hallmark of a quality establishment to clear conscientiously, taking the time and care to stack dirty dishes quietly and remove soiled flatware purposefully instead of slinging it around.  Whenever you clear a table, focus on what you’re doing and be aware of the noise you are making.  The care you take will enhance the diners’ experience.
  • 86’d Items.  When the kitchen announces a menu item as “86’d,” i.e., runs out of a particular item, servers must pass the word to other servers as quickly as possible. There is nothing more disappointing to a diner who has ordered a particular item that is no longer available.  Spreading the word allows a server to mention such items when announcing and describing featured items to a table.
  • In the Weeds.  Getting “in the weeds” can happen anytime without warning no matter how prepared you are.  While experienced servers know how to kick into overdrive and dig themselves out, it’s also important to let your supervisor and fellow servers know.  While you may think they should be able to see when you need help, don’t make this assumption.  They’re focusing on their own tasks and may not notice.  Remember that we are all part of a team – and teammates are there to help.  Usually, being in the weeds passes as quickly as it comes upon you and often all you need is a helping hand for just a few minutes.
  • Be Alert.  Always keep an eye on your tables.  You can usually tell if someone at a table needs something as they will be looking around or trying to get someone’s attention.  Check back with your tables frequently to see if everything is alright or if you may get them something else.  Be sensitive, though, to diners who are engaged in deep discussion or are enjoying a romantic evening together. They may not appreciate constant interruptions.  Always take you cue from the diners.
  • Ordering by Memory. It’s always impressive when a server takes orders by memory, though not everyone is able to do this.  Usually, a server would not have the confidence to do this until they have been working at the establishment for awhile and are thoroughly familiar with all aspects of the food and beverages offered.  If you are comfortable enough to try this, start small by doing it with tables of two.  Once your confidence is up, try it with larger tables.

Food service is a detail-intensive business.  Reminding your staff periodically of these details will help keep them foremost in their minds.

Excerpted from Food Service Management on the Go, Hospitality Resources International

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

Selling an Experience with Knowledge and Enthusiasm

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Some years ago my boss and I were on a trip to Nevada to visit our newest property.  During the visit, we had an opportunity to eat at a cozy Italian restaurant by the name of Luciano’s.  While the food was great, it was the service that blew me away.  Let me tell you why.

After we were greeted and seated, our waiter, a middle aged man, approached the table.  He immediately sensed our good mood and engaged us in a pleasant and humorous banter.  While presenting the menu, he described the daily specials in a graphic and mouth-watering way (with excellent Italian pronunciation) and ended by saying we should try the mussels as they just came in fresh that afternoon.  Of course we bit and ordered a couple of dozen steamed in wine, garlic, and butter.  After taking our dinner order, he suggested a superb Chianti that was the perfect complement to the meal.

As I observed our waiter, he moved from table to table with a wonderful ease, engaging the patrons in conversation, suggesting appetizers, entrees, and wines.  He seemed to wait on every table and was supported by a crew of young assistants.  He was so good at what he did and seemed to know so much about the restaurant’s offerings that I assumed he must be the owner. Certainly, he took a proprietary interest in every table and his many tempting suggestions probably boosted every check by 30-40% – what better way for an owner to ensure his restaurant’s success!

After dinner, he again worked his magic by suggesting and describing the fresh, made-from-scratch Cannoli.  His coup de grace was to suggest Lemoncello as an accompaniment for the dessert.  Thankfully, my boss was picking up the check!

As we left, I complimented him on his service and asked his name.  It turned out he was Irish and was the waiter, not the owner.  I was stunned, not just that an Irishman could be so Italian, but that he was so effective based upon his knowledge of the restaurant’s offerings and his obvious interest in and enthusiasm for the food.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

 

Training Requirements for Hospitality Operations

Monday, June 9th, 2014

All who work in the service business understand that operations are both people-intensive and detail-intensive.  It takes a lot of employees to provide the requisite levels of service and every aspect of service involves many details.  These two facts make detailed, ongoing training an absolute necessity for any successful operation.

There are a wide variety of topics that must be taught to both managers and employees to fully prepare them for their jobs.

  1. Leadership Development Training for managers and supervisors—designed to foster consistent, enterprise-wide leadership skills, which are the driving force behind the organization’s success.
  2. Organizational Culture Training for all employees—designed to foster a thorough understanding of the enterprise’s values and service ethic.
  3. Organizational Systems Training such as Human Resource and Accounting Standards, Policies, and Procedures (SPPs) for managers and supervisors, as well as departmental SPPs for employees—all designed to teach the underlying systems that permit the enterprise to operate efficiently.
  4. Legal Compliance Training for managers, supervisors, and employees—designed to provide all required training in matters with legal implications for the operation such as Equal Employment Opportunity, Fair Labor Standards Act, Sexual Harassment, and others.
  5. Liability Abatement Training for managers, supervisors, and employees—designed to limit the enterprise’s liability exposure for occupational safety and health, food sanitation, public health, and responsible alcoholic beverage service.
  6. Departmental SPPs, Organizational Systems, Job Skills and Service Technique Training for employees—designed to give each employee the knowledge and skill set necessary to perform his job and meet standards of service.

Items 1 through 5 above should be developed by the enterprise and provided across all departments for consistency sake; item 6 is specific to each department and should be developed and taught by individual department heads.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for Hospitality Operators!

The Pre-Shift Meeting

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Some ask the question, “Is a pre-shift meeting really necessary?”  Compare a pre-shift meeting with the habits of professional athletes, whose jobs require peak performance, both individually and as a team, in an environment where “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!”  Without fail, these athletes huddle for a few moments before every game to remind themselves of their commitment to each other and their mission to win.  In the service business the game is every day, every shift, and the need for success is just as important.  So yes, a pre-shift meeting is an absolute necessity for every department, but particularly in the food and beverage operation.

Here are some of the things that should be covered in a food and beverage pre-shift meeting:

  • Proper Dress and Grooming.  Is everyone in proper dress or uniform?  Do they have the right footwear and their nametags?  Does everyone meet the organization’s grooming standards?  These basic standards are critical to a professional operation.  What gets checked gets done!
  • Reservations.  Who’s coming in for dinner tonight?  Do we know their likes, dislikes, and preferences?  Have they made any special requests?  Is it a celebratory occasion?  For private club employees, double check the member database and see the meal could be for a birthday or anniversary?
  • Special Parties.  Are there special parties scheduled for tonight in the dining room?  Have they made any special requests?  Do they have a limited or set menu?
  • Daily Specials.  What are tonight’s specials?  Go over the Menu Item Selling Sheets, HRI Form 484, for those items.  Will the chef do a tasting and explain items and recipes?  Cover any wine pairings with specials.  Are there special appetizers, desserts, specialty drinks, wines by the glass, wines by the bottle?  Review pricing for these, which POS key to ring them on, and discuss suggestions for how to upsell.
  • Review Pronunciation of any unfamiliar or foreign food terms or product names.
  • Upcoming Events.  Review details of events such as Sunday Brunch, Fine Dining Nights, Wine Tastings, Luau at the pool, etc., so that servers can provide information and promote to diners if asked.
  • Review Daily Sales Targets so everyone knows if the operation’s on track to meet budget.  Review any ongoing contests or sales incentives.
  • Kudos, Recognition, and Complaints.  Review any positive feedback to celebrate success and extraordinary service by individual servers.  Cover any complaints received with lessons learned or to brainstorm solutions.
  • Membership Familiarization for Private Clubs.  Short, ongoing review of members, their preferences, special occasions.  Show pictures, if available.  If member data is reviewed incrementally each day, over time servers will have a greater familiarity with the full membership.  In particular, cover information on new members.
  • Basic Service Focus.  Cover any particular items servers should focus on such as getting member numbers on charge slips, quick pick up of hot items from the line, not overstacking the dishwash station, etc.  By focusing on one basic item each day, servers are continually reminded of the basics of our business.
  • Questions, Comments, Feedback.  Servers should always be made to feel comfortable in asking questions, making suggestions, and providing feedback from their serving experiences.

The pre-shift meeting is an essential discipline in meeting standards, ongoing training of staff, and reviewing dining options.

Excerpted from Food Service Management on the Go, Hospitality Resources International

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking  hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

The Value of a Super Service Employee

Monday, October 14th, 2013

For those of us who eat out with any regularity, we’ve all had the experience, unfortunately too rarely, of being waited on by what I call a “super server.”  From the moment she approaches the table we know we’re in for a treat.  Sparkling with personality, she overflows with knowledge about the food, beverages, and accompaniments.  She immediately sizes up our interest in engagement and calibrates her contacts accordingly.  She speaks with confidence and authority, questioning us regarding our preferences and without hesitation recommending what she thinks we’ll enjoy.  The best of the best can even unerringly take and serve orders without benefit of pen and dup pad – an ability that never ceases to amaze me.

Such extraordinary individuals are worth their weight in gold.  Not only do they serve with flair and expertise, but they sell, thereby increasing the average check, while making a distinctly favorable impression of competence and professionalism that brings diners back again and again.  This is true in restaurants as well as private clubs where members appreciate the recognition and special touches that a super server adds to the dining experience.

Far more frequently, we’ve experienced the norm of service – undertrained, inexperienced employees who may understand the basics of service, but little more.  Often lacking in knowledge, personality, and attitude, their service may meet minimum expectations but seldom inspire the diner to sample the extras – appetizers, desserts, wines, and specialty drinks – that the kitchen works so hard to create and which enhances the dining experience.  If truth be told, these employees are doing no service to their employers and in many cases are doing outright harm by driving customers away.

The often repeated maxim for employers “to hire for personality and train for technique and competence” encompasses a basic truth.  Attitude, personality, and engagement seem to be inborn skills and are difficult to teach.  While training can provide service skills and knowledge, thereby increasing a server’s confidence and maybe even engagement skills, the best service employees posses an indefinable quality that is difficult, if not impossible, to replicate.

Given the dearth of these extraordinary service employees, they should be recognized and compensated for the rare skills they possess.  Too often though, their presence on an employer’s staff is viewed as simple good fortune with little or no effort made to differentiate them from the common herd.  The result is that in short order they move on to greener pastures where their talents are more fully appreciated.  When this happens the loss to the establishment is often more than can be appreciated at the moment.  Not only has the employer lost a super server, but a money-maker, an ambassador, and an example for other less accomplished workers.

And everything said about food servers applies as much to super service employees in lodging, retail, recreation activities, golf, tennis, administration, and other areas of hospitality.

So why don’t we recognize and reward super service employees for their special abilities.  I suspect it’s a combination of cost consciousness, an unwillingness to go beyond the status quo, and a fear of exchanging known costs for unmeasured benefits.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking  hospitality managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

 

Standards for Food and Beverage Staff

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Quint Studer in his important book, Hardwiring Excellence, speaks of the importance of establishing a code of behavior for employee service teams.  The purpose is to communicate to employees the basic standards of interaction with customers/guest/members and fellow employees.  Further, Studer expects each employee to acknowledge and commit to the standards by signing a written copy.

With this in mind, here are some basic standards for the food and beverage operations team:

  • Arrive on time according to the work schedule.
  • Meet all requirements of the dress or uniform code and personal grooming standards.
  • Have a complete dedication to customer service at all times; fully and consistently embrace the enterprise’s organizational values and culture of service.
  • Maintain a pleasant and positive attitude at all times.
  • In private clubs, learn and use member names; learn and act upon their individual habits and preferences by providing personalized service.
  • Greet and assist all arriving customers; introduce yourself by first name and let them know you are there to help them in any way possible.
  • Provide relevant information to customers, such as location of facilities; walk guests to events or functions when possible.
  • Provide special service touches and “wow” factors.
  • Interrupt personal conversations at the approach of customers; give them your undivided attention.
  • Solve any problems encountered that are within your authority and ability to do so.
  • Report any problems you can’t solve to management.
  • Maintain the cleanliness and order of your work areas as you go; clean and straighten up work areas prior to departing as a courtesy to the next shift.
  • Work together with other staff to provide a seamless service experience for customers.
  • Thank fellow workers for their help and assistance.  They appreciate it as much as you do when you are thanked.

When employees understand and commit to expected standards of behavior and service, customers and other employees have a richer hospitality experience.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hospitality hardworking  managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

Running a Profitable Food Service by the Numbers

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Most hospitality managers would agree that food service is the most challenging part of their operations, but recognizing that knowledge is power, there are a number of management disciplines that will enhance any operation’s bottom line.

1.   Benchmarking revenues, cover counts, and average check by day of week and meal period.  This will help you schedule staff more efficiently, monitor sales trends, and allow you to track the success of new menus and efforts to upsell.

2.   Benchmarking payroll cost, hours worked, and average hourly wage by pay period.  This essential discipline will allow you to stay within budget, monitor overtime, and control your most significant expense.

3.   Formal forecasting by using historical cover benchmarks and knowledge of upcoming events, external factors, and optimum staffing levels, you can ensure expected service levels in the most cost-effective way.

4.   Timely and accurate inventories and benchmarking of inventories.  This will ensure budgeted cost of goods sold and identify any adverse anomalies or trends for investigation.  A further discipline that will yield significant benefits is to identify and inventory high value items weekly.

5.   Sales mix analysis.  This discipline will help you understand your members’ dining preferences while protecting profit margins.

6.   Basic dining policies.  Well-thought out and advertised dining policies will give all members an equal opportunity to enjoy the dining services while ensuring the highest service levels for all customers.

7.   Consistent pre-shift meetings with a purpose and continual On the Go Training.  There is no better way to prepare and train your staff for service.

8.   Product knowledge and upselling training for servers.  They can’t sell what they don’t know and servers well-trained in upselling techniques will increase your operation’s average check while enhancing your customers’ dining experiences.

9.   Upselling feedback.  If servers are provided daily sales goals and feedback on their efforts to upsell, they will be far more engaged, enthusiastic, and effective in increasing their average checks.  You just need to provide the numbers to them on a daily basis.

10.  Tools to Beat Budget.  This powerful discipline will ensure your bottom line, make you more knowledgeable about your operation, and make preparing future budgets a breeze.

Food service managers must make these disciplines part of their daily and weekly routines.  Once these disciplines are instituted and mastered, a number of them can be delegated to properly-trained and motivated subordinates.  When consistently applied, these basic and commonsense disciplines will ensure both profitability and customer service.  What more could you want for your operation?

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hospitality hardworking  managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

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Suggestive Selling – Alcoholic Beverages

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Are your servers simply order takers?  What can you do to help them sell more?  The simple, yet highly effective way is to teach them to suggestive sell.  The more your service team knows about the club’s food and beverages, the better able they will be to make dining suggestions to members and guests.  Alcoholic beverages present a wide variety of upselling opportunities:

Know the Club’s Premium Brands. One of the easiest ways to increase the average check is to suggest premium brands of alcohol.  Not only must they know and correctly pronounce their names, but they should know what makes them special.  Things they need to know include: the age such as a 12-year old scotch or fine bourbon, proprietary flavorings as in single malt scotches or the 10 ingredients in Bombay Sapphire gin, or quality of production and distillation such as in Belvedere vodka’s being distilled four times.

Beers.  For many years, there was a great consolidation of local and regional breweries that resulted in a handful of dominant companies offering very similar products.  In recent years, though, there has been an explosion of small, niche breweries offering well-crafted, artisanal beers of unique tastes.  The more your servers know about beer varieties such as, stout, ales, lagers, and pilsners, and the specific brands you carry, either bottled or on tap, the better able they are to suggest a particular beer with a particular meal.  Often, a member or guest will ask what beers you carry.  This is the perfect opportunity to ask them whether they like a lightly flavored or more robust beer, and then suggest one of the club’s premium brands.  The key to success is knowledge.  Get more ideas by talking to your bartender, searching online for information, or buying any one of a number of recently published beer guides.

Wines.  Wines present an almost infinite body of knowledge to truly master, but servers can start with the basics such as grape varieties, countries and locales of origin, wine terminology, and common wine descriptors.  As with any other body of knowledge, start small, learn the basics, and learn something new every day or week.  In time they’ll be a fount of knowledge and wine information.

Wine Pairings.  Certain wines go best with different foods.  The basic rules are: Sparkling wine and Champagne – appetizers, wild game, caviar, roasted almonds, oysters, and fruit; Rosé wine – ham, turkey, sausages, and pork; White wine – seafood, poultry, shellfish, veal, cream sauces, mild cheeses, and light dishes such as salads; Medium-bodied red wine – pork, wild game, lamb, blackened fish or poultry, pâté, mild cheeses; Full-bodied red wine – steak, roast beef, blackened red meat, heavier dishes, cheeses from mild to sharp; Dessert wines – fruits, pastries, simple desserts; Dry sherry – appetizers and soups; Port and sweet sherry – after dinner and with cheeses.

Liqueurs. The terms cordial and liqueur are synonymous. There are many opportunities to upsell with liqueurs.  Cordials are alcoholic beverages prepared by mixing and redistilling various spirits (brandy, whiskey, rum, gin, or other spirits) with certain flavoring materials, such as fruits, flowers, herbs, seeds, barks, roots, peels, berries, juices, or other natural flavoring substances.  Cordials differ from all other spirits because they must contain at least 2½ % sugar by weight.   Most cordials contain up to 35% of a sweetening agent.  Liqueurs can be consumed straight up, “on the rocks,” diluted with water, mixed with sparkling water as a spritzer, or served over ice cream.  Make sure your team knows the major flavorings of each.  Here’s a free guide to the most common proprietary liqueurs.

Cognac, Brandies, Sipping Whiskeys, Ports.  All of these make superb after dinner drinks.  These are best suggested when it’s apparent that the diners are going to linger at the table over coffee or conversation.

Make sure your service team knows what brands you carry and have them learn as much as they can about each.  The more they learn, the more confident they’ll be to sell, and the higher your average check will be.

Excerpted from Food Service Management on the Go

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

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