Brand Values: What is the gold standard for operators?

Brand Values: What is the gold standard for operators?

In our first article we talked about the importance of hospitality operators having brand values in their business. Anecdotally, we’ve observed that there are a few terms used by businesses to describe the service steps involved in the customer journey: ‘Steps of service’, ‘Brand standards’, ‘ Standard operating procedures’, ‘Brand values’. We believe there are subtle differences in these terms and we’ve compiled some examples that might help operators assess where they are and to start thinking about how operators can set about achieving the gold standard.

Bronze – Steps Of Service / Standard Operating Procedures

99% of operators will have in place ‘Steps of service’. We see this as the basics or the bare minimum a business should have in place. If someone was conducting an audit, these are the tick boxes you would expect to see operation teams achieving. A generic Steps of Service journey might look like the following:

  • Greet your guest
  • Offer a drink
  • Take food order
  • Serve the drink before any food
  • Check back on guest 2 – 5 minutes after food is served
  • Clear plates
  • Suggest dessert and/or coffee
  • Bring the bill promptly

Silver – Brand Standards

As the word ‘brand’ would suggest, these align with your brand and should encompass the basics of your steps of service but relates to what the business wants to be remembered for taking it to the next level. For example:

  • Greet your guests warmly and promptly
  • Offer a drink as soon as the guests have been seated
  • Take the food order, highlight any specials and offer a dish recommendation
  • Serve drinks before any food is served. If there is a delay, ensure that is communicated
  • Check back on the guests in a timely manner. Not when they have just taken a bite and not when the plate is half-empty
  • Clear plates promptly but ensure guests have finished eating. Be mindful if guests look like they are in a rush to leave
  • Recommend your favourite dessert when bringing the dessert menu
  • Bring the bill prompt with a smile on your face to give a lasting good impression

Gold – Brand Values

At this stage, operation teams should almost be following the steps of service with their eyes closed. Living and breathing the brand values through the guest experience is the difference to delivering memorable experiences every single time. You’ll notice from the example below that personalisation plays a key role here. In order to achieve this, care and attention to detail after key skills that are required. Leading from the top down and installing these qualities in your teams from day 1 is a relentless task that simply must happen to achieve this level of customer experience.

  • Greet your guests in a personalised way as possible. For example, is it a regular you could greet by first name or are you expecting a birthday party in from the booking notes and you can wish them a happy birthday. Or simply ask if it’s their first time visiting so you can personalise the service for the rest of their visit. Tell the guest your name
  • If it’s a celebration recommend some fizz or a special cocktail or mocktail as a drink whilst the guests look over the menu. Serve filtered water without being asked for water.
  • Talk up the menu and highlight any new dishes or specials, explaining why you love certain dishes. Ask questions to help understand what the guest likes in order to make the best recommendations.
  • If drinks are delayed, maintain eye contact with your guests, apologise for any delay and assure them their drinks are worth the wait.
  • Check back on the guests in a timely manner. Look at people’s faces to check if there is any cause for concern. It’s well known that guests can often find ‘checkbacks’ uncomfortable and don’t say if something is amiss. Read people’s body language to work it out for yourself.
  • Clear plates promptly after they are finished. If food is left on the plate, ask if there is anything wrong with the dish.
  • Recommend your favourite dessert when bringing the dessert menu and explain how you recently had a menu tasting and why you loved this dessert so much.
  • Smile when you bring the bill and ask if the guest can leave feedback on their visit.

Achieving this gold-level standard, takes time, energy and patience but elevates the guest experience to a whole other level but the benefits are huge. When these are in place, your teams can almost predict customer’s needs. Imagine how impressive that would be! Ultimately if your teams can really showcase their personality whilst embodying your brand, you will have stronger loyalty and higher revenues.