In a study of chain restaurants in the July 2009 edition of Consumer Reports, customers reported at least one complaint during a whopping 43 percent of the visits! The complaints reported are very surprising and an area that we should all be focused on improving in our hotel restaurants.
Here are the top complaints:
Noise (reported in 26% of visits)
Poor Service (18%)
Cleanliness Issues (10%)
Food Quality (7%)
Most people would automatically assume that food quality issues would be the top complaint in a restaurant. Keep in mind that this study covered restaurants from Denny’s all the way up to Morton’s Steakhouse. You probably spend a lot of time working on your menu and your food quality. Keep in mind that this is the area that the fewest people complain. Where should you focus most? First, hopefully your hotel restaurant does not have a noise problem. Very few of the restaurants our mystery shoppers visit have any sort of noise problem. However, many of the hotel restaurants have both a service problem and some cleanliness issues.
Service problems are the biggest problem areas during our mystery shopper’s visits. Surprisingly, the biggest problems are the most basic service standards. Many servers struggle to do basic standards such as taking orders, pre-bussing tables, and delivering the check correctly. Schedule a mystery shop today to see how your service ranks.
We also see a few cleanliness issues during our visits. The main culprits? Buffets and bathrooms. Bathroom cleanliness was also a complaint in the Consumer Reports study. Have a messy bathroom in your restaurant is probably the quickest way to scare a guest. The buffet problems we report are issues such as dirty plates in the plate rack and messes left on the buffet from other guests. Be sure that dishes are inspected after they come out of the dishwasher and before they are put on the buffet. Also, be sure you have someone monitoring the buffet to clean up the mess left by guests who don’t know how to operatate a set of tongs.
Keep focused on the basics to improve your guest satisfaction scores!
If you are like many hotels, you are looking for ways to reduce your costs in your restaurants to compensate for the lower revenues. In this first cutting payroll edition, we are going to discuss how to cut the busser (bussperson, busboy) position. Many restaurant chains across the country have now eliminated the busser position. Take a look at this article describing how chains such as T.G.I. Friday’s have eliminated the position.
First, a brief overview of how we see the bussperson position. Bussers are the key to a restaurant’s cleanliness. They are relatively inexpensive to have on the floor during busy times. However, they can really hamper good guest service. Restaurants tend to use bussers to help the servers serve guests by doing things such as offering beverages and pre-bussing. The problem is that guests cannot tell the difference between a server and a busser. It does not matter if their uniforms are different. When an employee approaches a guest’s table and offers a beverage, the guest expects that person is going to serve them. Unfortunately, they do not always speak English and are not trained to properly serve the guest. Many guest’s questions are answered with a blank stare or with, “I’ll get the server”. Servers should serve. They should be the first to greet the guest when they are seated. They should take the drink orders and deliver them. They should pre-buss and should deliver the checks. A busser should never go to a guest’s table while there is a guest present. If a busser is doing any of these tasks out of necessity, your server probably is unable to handle the number of tables he/she has been assigned. You should reduce his/her table count until his/her service improves.