No, not 99%.  This isn’t about Wall Street.  I am not talking about the rich 1% (although maybe I should be), but rather I am talking about the consistency that we should be striving for in both the kitchen and the front of the house of our restaurants.

We aim for 100%

Obviously our goal is, or at least should be, 100% customer satisfaction; but that probably is not a realistic number—some people will never be happy–although we would never stop trying to obtain that goal.

I used to work at a place, and although we did not do actual customer surveys, I figured the satisfaction level to be about 95%. I thought that was pretty cool.

A couple of the things that I have mentioned in the past that lead to restaurant failure is inconsistency in food, and inconsistency in service.  We have all gone to a place to eat, had an amazing meal, only to bring friends in a couple of weeks later and end up thoroughly disappointed.  Even if we ordered the exact same dish!


You don’t want there to be inconsistencies depending on who is in the kitchen cooking, or who happens to be out on the floor serving. No matter who is on the clock on any given day, you want to be sure that the experience of the customer is a consistent one, and hopefully a pleasant one.

How do we know?

You can get a pretty good idea of the level of satisfaction of your customers by simply looking for a couple of obvious signs: Food never being sent back to the kitchen. Plates going back to the dish room with no food on them. Customers smiling and thanking you on their way out the door. I would call those obvious signs.

You don’t need to have every customer fill out a survey. You don’t have to be that corporate Shari’s, or Applebee’s.

Just pay attention!

I have had consulting clients ask me, “Do you think we should have customers fill out questionnaires?” NO! I tell them to just look around. Be observant. Pay attention. The signs will be obvious of the customers’ satisfaction or lack of.

If you really are a glutton for punishment, you can look at the reviews of your place on Yelp. The problem is that every single person is going to have an opinion about how things should be done. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to listen to those opinions.

Perfect does not exist

BUT, we can still strive for perfection. Like that golfer who goes out every time hoping for that 54 (for you non-golfers out there, that is making a birdie on every hole–the current record for low score is 59), we are going to do all we can to attain that sweet perfection.

Life is not perfect

We still try every day to seek out perfection. I know I have had many days in the restaurant when I felt we came pretty darn close. And what a great feeling it is. When all of the customers left with a big smile, all the moving parts in the restaurant came together like a well-oiled machine, front-of-the-house nailed it, back-of-the-house nailed it, and both got along in the mean time. There really is nothing like that feeling. You should make that your goal every single night.


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