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Please: Sweat the Small Stuff.

Alright, I get it. . . your therapist has been telling you “not to sweat the small stuff.” You’ve been jumping feet-first into leaf piles and writing poems about recapturing your childhood. You’re stopping to smell the flowers in a grand effort to refocus on the “big picture.”  That’s awfully noble of you. Now fire your therapist!

When it comes to the restaurant industry, it’s the small stuff that can really make a difference. From the moment a guest walks through the door, the tiniest details can make or break the experience and determine whether or not they return.

  1. Don’t be snotty: If your snarky hostess is sending the message that your guests are an inconvenience, an attitude adjustment is in order. A warm smile can make a world of difference.
  2. Embrace your regulars: Acknowledge returning guests, and refer to them by name. Welcome them back and express your gratitude for their patronage.
  3. Control noise levels: there are few things more frustrating than having to shout at your dining partner in order to have what was most likely intended to be an intimate conversation.
  4. Replace chipped dishes and glassware: Just remember the devil is in the details. Plus, it is just plain tacky to have chipped dishes.
  5. Pay attention: If a gentleman asks for extra lemons with his tea, chances are that he will want extra lemons with each consecutive glass . . . So bring the man his lemons.
  6. Fix wobbly tables and broken chairs: Come on… this should be a given. Nothing is worse than a chair you feel like you might fall out of.
  7. Serve hot food on hot plates (and cold food on chilled ones): It may seem like a meaningless task, but it really adds a extra level of quality to your dishes.
  8. That better not be a lipstick stain on my wine glass: Gross. If this every happens you can guarantee any tip goodbye, along with that customer ever coming back.
  9. Clean that bathroom: Guests tend to directly associate the cleanliness of a bathroom with that of your kitchen. So get out the Clorox.
  10. Clear and reset tables as quickly as possible: Sitting in a dining room filled with half-eaten entrees and napkin wads is enough to make anyone lose their appetite.
  11. If a guest has a complaint, address it, apologize, and fix it: Don’t let it happen again. Better yet, do it right the first time.
  12. Find as many ways as possible to say “thank you”: Be it in a phone call, a letter, or in person, just make sure your customers know you care.

It’s the small stuff that can gain you a customer’s loyalty for life. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about the little things you do that make a huge difference, so please feel free to comment below.