BE PREPARED TO SERVE YOUR CUSTOMER, DAILY
Fair to say, that in your business, the central constant is to serve your customers. To some business owners that means, as fast and efficiently as possible. Other business owners rely on carefully organized hospitality. And while serving your customer is the central goal, ask yourself if customers are central to your business day. It may not be happening at all, or service may be happening, accompanied with chaos, or you just cannot figure out why service is not smooth and simple. Lets visit three tips for being prepared to serve your customers. This will improve their experience. This makes running your business pleasant (even rewarding), and your staff will quietly thank you. Simply look at the "before", "during " and “after" of a day in the life of your business. Returning to this method helps you as an owner reset, and ensure your customer has a delightful experience, comes back, and tells others.
BEFORE: Are you completely prepared to be open today? In a restaurant or a cafe, it means, are you taking time before the door open, to have systems in place to sell. Are the plates organized? Is the dining room clean and prepared for service? Is prep in the kitchen complete, organized and orderly? And, if the kitchen and food are ready, are all the servers ready? Are you having a quick staff meeting--to ensure communication is serving your customers? And are you making sure the discussion comes from servers and managers. At a farmers market, have you done your homework before you arrived: reaching out to your customers to either get orders/pre-sales, or communicate a reason why they really should come today.
A wonderful example is the story of a bakery, and how its owner literally promoted what would be available two to three days prior, invited customers to pre-order, and then prepped those orders and baked off a few extra items for those who did not pre-order. By the time he was a couple hours in to the farmers market, he sold-out! He was not even telling a fib. He made sure he planned to attract the business, made sure each customer had that "touch" experience, and ensured that his bank account was getting an ever increasing amount at each market. You might think that your business is not like that wonderfully tidy example. Or you could look at that example and realize that actually you and your staff are rarely if ever prepared for the day. Switching to the boy scout model of "be prepared" will take a shift in your staff training, and setting up your expectation, but the beauty of being prepared is well worth the effort. And think about how nice it would be to minimize the chaos.
DURING: As you open for the day, are you feeling confident? You should because your preparation creates the ability and time to serve your customers with the hospitality you are proud of, and the service your guest love. Are you keeping up with the speed of your business?
This example is applicable to a cafe, a purveyor at a market, or a restaurant: At Boheme Cafe, one staff member takes an order for an espresso drink, while a manager steps over to another customer who needs to know if we could cater today/next Tuesday. Postponing that conversation, about the catering, runs the risk of loosing their order because they would think we were not interested in the order. So during your business day, you are keeping on top of future business. You, as the business owner are not pretending that the future catering order conversation can wait. It really cannot.
AFTER: This is the time where you look back, and complete loose ends, follow your own rules of resetting. close out your business day--closing your cash register, readying your restaurant/cafe/farmers market stand by having great systems that help minimize the next days setup. Simply put, do not rush your close. And the motto “a good close is a good open”. We, as business owners, want a busy day. If busy is chaos it is neither sustainable, nor can it expand.
A good example is a cafe in Baltimore that is about two years old. He must have planned every little issue of his business. The owner is not slogging day by day in the kitchen, or pulling his hair out on the phone. He is very present and meets and talks to customers. He is connecting, and thereby making future business happen. His menu is never dull, but always stable, and every time in the day when you walk in there is a sense of order and peace. I think it helps the staff to keep that level of peace. And of course it is very appealing for customers. The message that customers are receiving is, “Trust in us for a coffee, a meal and your next catering event.” Confidence like that start with closing each day with tidy precision.
TO CONCLUDE: This is a simple formula. Before-during-after is completely focused on resetting. Reset, reset, reset. Before the day begins, reset. While the day is in high gear, or low gear, reset. When the day comes to an end and many details are still hanging, reset. Vigilance and endurance to this method pays off. Like a yoga practice, like a well-run business, you are keeping your business strong by not being reactive.