That was my introduction to my first mentor in business who was a very successful restaurant owner. I had walked into a staff meeting he was giving and listened as he continued.
“Even if I had to wait on the customers or call my friends to help, the work would get done. I see the shock on your faces but my reason for putting it that way is many of you are missing an opportunity. I love the fact that all of you are doing something else; some of you are actors, musicians, artists, students and writers. That is why I hired you. You have something to offer our customers in terms of your personality. I know many of you will not make this your career, but while you are here, you need to understand that you must possess and work with the servant mentality.”
Wondering where he was going with this, I could see many squirming in their seats.
“I can see many of you are taking offense to being called a servant,” he continued, “but being of service to our customers is one of the highest skills you should possess. It will serve you well in all of your future endeavors but while you are here, that is what this job is. People are coming for a certain experience and we must deliver it. This is not about what you want to do, it is about following our processes each and every time so that we not only fulfill their expectations but also to exceed them.”
With the rest of the team, he had me in his grasp and we all listened on intently.
“What I have provided for each of you is an opportunity to run your own business here. You need to look at your job this way. I have invested in all of the things we need to run the restaurant. I have given you each tables with which you can run your own business. Now you can do the minimum, ask the customer what they want and deliver it in a most basic way for which you will receive basic tips or compensation. But you could take that same number of people and lead them through the experience. Using the training we have given you offer them appetizers; explain the menu in a way that gets the customer seeing the food in their head, explain what wine works best so they will order a bottle and then get them to close out the meal with a dessert or after dinner drinks. Then you will have larger checks, thus larger compensation from the same number of people.
My question to each of you is, what kind of business do you want to run?”
I have never forgotten this meeting and continue to pass it on during all of my training workshops to any customer-facing employee of companies I work with as well as their managers.
Each of us every day should ask ourselves if we are looking at what we do as running our own business and following our processes in order to deliver the customer experience the company is offering – or if we doing it our own way.
That meeting was over 20 years ago but it has served me well over the years. I hope it does for you.
Thanks Gene. You were tough on all of us, but you taught me a great deal.