I’ve been trying to come up with more ways to add value to the blog. One of the ideas I came up with was to do more posts with practical, actionable advice for franchisees on how to manage the different aspects of running a franchised business. There are a lot of things I learned from my years as a franchisee of The UPS Store that I would like to share with you in the weeks and months ahead. But I also want to leverage the experience and knowledge of the members of our community here on Franchise Chatter, so that we can all learn from each other.
At about the same time, Martin reached out to me and offered to share some tips on how to provide stellar customer service based on his team’s years of experience in the food and beverage and hospitality industries. The timing could not have been more perfect. This is the first in what I hope to be a series of instructional posts on how to run a successful franchised business. Thank you, Marty, for being our first contributor!)
With our economy very shaky today and the cost of everything going up, Americans are no longer grousing as they fill their tanks. They’re genuinely worried. And they’re not always topping off. Many people only buy half a tank of gas or less because it’s so expensive.
So this begs the question: Are your customers willing to pay so much for gas so they can drive to your business? Actually a more pointed question is do you provide stellar customer service to entice guests to your business? Are you creating an experience that encourages guests to make a cash investment just to walk through your door?
Following are some suggestions on how you can polish your Franchise Customer Service. You may be surprised at how easy it is to implement these ideas.
1. Customers or Guests? Perhaps I’m splitting hairs here, but try to think of the people at your franchise as guests rather than customers. A customer is someone who buys a good or a service. A guest is a person who receives hospitality or is entertained. In most businesses, your goal is to have guests. You’re part of the entertainment and hospitality. So it’s important that you think of people who walk through your door as guests. If it helps, think of them as people who are coming into your home. They are not customers who put three dollars on the counter and leave with something.
2. Happy. Happy is such a simple word. We all want to be happy and guests are no different. Sometimes you have to go above and beyond to make them happy, but that’s not necessarily difficult. Above and beyond is simply remembering a guest likes two olives in their drink or rooms left a specific way after cleaning. Go ahead, make your guests happy.
3. Welcome. This is another simple but important aspect of good service. Every guest is welcome. They’re welcome to experience your business and be treated well. They should feel welcome, not out of place or uncomfortable. Your job is to monitor your attitude and actions so you don’t give the impression that guests are a bother. Make them feel as welcome as an old friend.
4. No Exceptions. You cannot get away with failing to provide great service to everyone. No exceptions! Guests who park themselves at a table and eat only an appetizer the entire evening are not an exception to the rule of offering good guest service. They deserve a great experience as much as the guest that orders two of everything on the menu. Every guest deserves a great experience each time they visit your franchise.
5. Knowledge. Being knowledgeable about your job responsibilities and how you can better serve guests is critical. You also want to be knowledgeable about what’s happening around your business so you can help guests when they have questions. Knowledge gives you the power to make things better for your business, your guests and yourself. The more you know, the better.
6. Gratification. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get something out of all this for yourself, as long as the good vibes go both ways. When you provide good service, it can give you — and your guests — a feeling of gratification. For example, you help someone with physical needs find a restroom. A guest is a little down in the dumps and you find a way to make their day a bit brighter. That’s great service that can create warm feelings inside for you and your guests. There’s nothing wrong with gratification.
Only a few years ago, who would have dreamed that gas would cost this much and that service station pumps would become competitors for almost any industry? Sadly, that day is here. But there is something you can do to compete. Give your guests stellar service. Give them a reason to burn a little gas to come visit you.
Martin R. Baird is Chief Feedback Officer for Feedback Revolution QR, a customer feedback firm for the restaurant and food industry. They help franchises measure, manage and improve their customers’ experience. The proven methodology they use is a combination of best business practices to chart a course for growth and profitability. The research behind it was done by Harvard and the London School of Economics. He may be reached by phone at 480-861-3963 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.