If you are working hard on improving your guest welcome with our Guide to the Ultimate Arrival Experience, we wanted to share a few stories of the Ultimate Arrival Experience in action. The great thing about these two stories is how they show how our Ultimate Arrival Experience will work for any hotel. These two hotels were both visited by one of our mystery shoppers during the same week… both took a similar approach to the arrival experience… but are very different hotels. The first hotel was a budget-friendly Holiday Inn, the second was an ultra-luxurious Ritz-Carlton.
I can’t seem to get our liquor costs under budget. What is the best control for measuring the bartender’s pours?
Good question! There are a few different methods for pouring alcohol such as free pour, jigger, or measured spout. Which one works best depends on your bar.
Typical lobby lounge – If your bar is typically slow, usually a measured jigger works best. Just be sure to have plenty of jiggers on hand so the bartender always has one within reach. We like the measured jigger because it is easy for your supervisors to monitor from across the bar. Also, customers are accepting of a jigger in most cases. Of course, the downside is that it is easy for the bartender to overpour using the jigger. Most bartenders we see using a jigger like to run a tail with each pour. Here is a good video on basic jigger techniques:
High volume bar – If your bar gets pretty busy and the bartenders need to crank out drinks fast, we like the measured spout. The ball bearings in the spout automatically pour the exact amount and then stop. The bartender would have to tilt the bottle back a second time to be able to overpour with these spouts. Here is a good video of how the Precision Pours work:
Free Pouring Method – We really do not like any bars to use the free pour method. It is both dangerous to your profits and to your customers. Our mystery shoppers have reported time after time instances where they were poured a drink that had over 4 ounces of alcohol when a bartender free poured. You can easily see how pouring 3 times the correct amount can be very dangerous. But if you must free pour, at least have a good counting system in place and a system to test the bartender’s pouring skills. Here is a good video:
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 operate a set of tongs.
Keep focused on the basics to improve your guest satisfaction scores!
USA Today posted a pretty good article titled ‘As Hotels Struggle For Business, Some Guests Find An Upside’. Click on the link to read the entire article on their website.
The article talks about how guests are finding much better deals on hotel rooms now than ever before, especially at luxury hotels. But the most important part of the article is the section titled ‘Guests Notice Cutbacks’. From the article: Hotels cannot hide all the cutbacks. Some frequent travelers say they’re starting to notice little things. From the article:
Some amenities — such as a bottle of water in the room or a newspaper delivered to the door — are gone. The quality of complimentary food and beverages has diminished in some club rooms or lobbies, or at hotel managers’ guest receptions, they say.
Because many hotels have cut their staffs, frequent travelers say they’re waiting longer to check in and out, have rooms made up and have cars retrieved by valets.
“There are fewer people to provide basic services, answer questions and make suggestions for restaurants and activities,” says Howard Knoff, an education consultant in Little Rock.
It never amazes us to hear about all of the ways our Mystery Shoppers see servers and bartenders stealing from their hotels. With the advancement in technology, especially point of sale systems, you would think that it would be harder for servers to steal. However, in many ways, it actually makes it easier.
With the advancement in technology, a server can make a guest check-in seconds. That means they can easily manipulate a guest check-in seconds. Here is one example our Mystery Shoppers see. A server serves 2 breakfast buffets and presents check number 101 to a customer. The customer pays $40 cash. Instead of closing the check to cash, the server pockets the cash and goes back and splits that check, and creates check number 102 for 1 buffet and check number 103 for 1 buffet. Now the server has two open checks for very popular items that he/she can do many things with. He/she can present a check to their next customer who orders a buffet or they can add additional items to the buffet or transfer it to another guest check. The opportunities are endless.
This not only works with buffets but with any items that are not prepared by the kitchen such as beverages, desserts, and especially alcoholic drinks.
How can you protect your restaurant?