Ask TrueGuest: Improving In Room Dining

Featured

Dear TrueGuest,

I am the In Room Dining Manager of a large hotel.  Our In Room Dining sales have really dropped over the last year.  Our service scores are also suffering.  Where do a start?

room serviceGreat question!  Many hotels are reporting a drastic decrease in F&B sales per occupied room.  The In Room Dining sales have taken the biggest hit during these tough times.  Guests are really cutting back on the more expensive amenities of the hotels and room service is usually at the top.  Here are our recommendations:

1.  Revisit your menu and specifically your menu prices.  Many hotels dramatically increased their room service menu prices over the restaurant prices.  We recommend that the prices are similar, especially if your hotel is near many other restaurants…  especially if they are within walking distance.  Guests typically look at the room service prices and assume they are the same as in the restaurant.  If a guest feels they are too high, you have lost them as a customer in both room service and the restaurant.  Guests will grab breakfast from a quick mart and eat dinner at the restaurant next door.

2.  Review the basics of room service selling with your Room Service Operators.  Now more than ever, they need to maximize the revenue on every call they receive.  Check out this article on how to increase your room service sales by as much as 50 percent!

3.  For help on improving your service, check out this article on how to deliver room service orders the right way!

Have any tips of your own?  Post them below!  Have a question that you would like answered?  Post it below or send it to us via the contact page.

Better Buffet Service

buffetThere are many times when I am eating breakfast in a hotel when I wonder why hotels even offer buffets for breakfast in their restaurants.  I can see the answers from the executives now;  “It is a faster breakfast for our busy guests!”  Or, “The costs will be lower due to the high volume and less staffing!”  Or, “Our guests prefer to have a buffet!”  What I usually see when hotels offer buffets though, is terrible service.  I am sure the guests do not prefer bad service!  It is not that buffets and bad service go hand in hand, but it really gives servers a reason to become lazy.  The fact is that almost everyone will tip, whether or not they received good service, when they eat at a breakfast buffet.  The line between the self-service aspect of a buffet and the service side from the server often becomes blurred and a guest will just tip the customary ten to fifteen percent of the check no matter what type of service they receive, just to be courteous.

Nowadays, there are not many service oriented managers that do not know that the last impression a hotel makes on a guest, usually at breakfast, can heavily affect guest service scores.  Most people also probably know that customers would prefer no service to bad service (thus the invention of ATM machines).  Why then, would a hotel allow this type of service to go out to their guests in hopes of saving some money?  If you have a subpar breakfast buffet service, make sure that you have the following items in place to change that service for the better.

Standards – Ensure that your staff is familiar with the standards of your hotel brand and follows them.  If you do not have a brand, make some standards and follow them.

Host – Have a host.  This may seem like a useless cost, but having a host seat guests will make the restaurant seem more like a restaurant and not like a cafeteria.

Continue reading

Restaurant Menu Engineering

menuTake a break from working on your budget to catch up on a new law that will have a huge impact on your gross operating profit . As you may have already read, on September 12th, 2006 Governor Schwarzenegger approved a bill to increase the minimum wage. The bill calls for two raises to the minimum wage over the next year and a half as follows:

-On January 1, 2007, the minimum wage for California will increase from $6.75 per hour to $7.50 per hour.

-On January 1, 2008, the minimum wage for California will increase an additional 50 cents to $8.00 per hour.

To read the bill, click on the following link: http://www.dir.ca.gov/IWC/iwc.html

The biggest area the new law will impact is in the hotel’s food and beverage departments. Most restaurants only make a profit of about 10 percent. With server and bartender labor to increase 11 percent to $7.50, it could easily squeeze out the entire profit. Hotels with high benefits (especially high workers comp rates) will be hit the hardest. Now is the time to examine your menus and consider any price increases. There is a great article on menu engineering available at http://www.restaurantowner.com/public/330.cfm . There is also a menu engineering worksheet available for download to help you out. It is also a great time to examine your labor productivity. Make sure that you have a productivity number for each position and those numbers are used to forecast, schedule and report each week.

The earlier that you can prepare for the increase, the easier it will be to absorb the expense. It is critical to examine what positions that it will affect and have a plan for them. Typically any position under $10.00 per hour will be affected by this minimum wage increase. You may want to consider raising the wages on those positions immediately rather than waiting until January 1st. As the word about the minimum wage increase gets around, employees will start looking around to see what other hotels are paying. The hotels who wait until January 1st could risk losing some good employees to their competitors. Also, a large increase before the government requires could be a great boost for moral, especially in December when hotels are slow and work is scarce.

Link provided with permission from RestaurantOwner.com. For more information, visit http://www.restaurantowner.com/.