In Marketing class, we talk about the four components of service: Inseparability, perishability, intangibility, and variability. Yeah, I know.

I am not going to bore you with tales of the other three, but variability is something worth focusing on. It is one of the keys to a successful restaurant, not just with service, but with everything.

What it boils down to, is this: You don’t want there to be variability in your restaurant. Has this ever happened to you?: You go out to eat with a friend and have an amazing meal. You can’t wait to have that same dish again. However, when you go back the next week with your wife and order the same thing, it just isn’t as good.

Happens everywhere

A co-worker of mine recently shared this story with me: He ordered some brussels sprouts as a side dish, and they were incredible. He gobbled them all down. They were so good, in fact, that he decided to order some more. Only this time when they came out they were terrible.

How can that be?

Ordering the same dish 15 minutes apart and it went from amazing to inedible. Wow.

It shouldn’t matter if you are busy, or if you are slow, the food should always be good. It doesn’t matter if it was prepared by Ann or Steve, the customer deserves consistency.

That goes for service, too

Or this scenario: I go out and have the best service ever. I go back to the place a month later and my service is horrible. I know you all have stories along these lines.

Again, it shouldn’t matter if your server is Frank, or Chris. It doesn’t matter if you are super busy, or deadly slow. Provide consistency.

There are a number of ways to do this, and they all start with the magic word. No, not please…TRAINING!

Train that staff!

Let’s start with the kitchen. Have standard recipes. Have them written down so the staff can follow them. Show the staff how you want it done. Some places even draw pictures and put them up in the kitchen so the cooks know what they are supposed to look like.

And then there is the front of the house. Show them everything. Make sure they know what wines are available by the glass. What beers are on tap. Let them try things on the menu, so they know how to talk about it to the customers. Make sure they are uber-capable on the POS system.

And then re-visit

As I have said often, it is not enough to train the staff–you have to constantly re-train the staff. They will forget. Besides, they are not the owners, so they will not be as engaged as you want them to be, so re-visit everything.

Many complaints from employees are based around the fact that they are not shown how to do things. Don’t make this mistake in your restaurant. Show them what you want and expect. How can they do a good job, otherwise? You want to limit the variability.


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