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Training Culture Vs Learning Culture

Dr Rae Baum started this list on LinkedIn and I thought it was a great start and added to it. How else are the differences defined.

Training Culture

  • instructor focused
  • event based
  • centralized
  • siloed
  • top – down perspective
  • all about delivery (inputs)
  • centered on improving business outcomes
  • transactional
  • cost managed
  • classroom
  • manuals and theories
  • timely performance reviews
  • managed rules and policies

Learning Culture

  • learner centered
  • ongoing
  • decentalized
  • shared
  • front-line perspective
  • all about results (impact)
  • centered on improving individual outcomes
  • inspirational
  • ROI engineered
  • business environment
  • real-life experiences
  • daily one-on-ones
  • coaching & mentoring

What Is The Guest Experience?

First off, you have to understand what goes in/on/around your business from the guest’s perspective is how the Guest Experience (Gx) is defined, not yours. And from the guest’s point of view (POV) an exceptional guest experience holds meaningfully differentiated value.

Technically, what the Guest Experience  is, is how a guest thinks of you after considering all of their interactions with you, over the lifetime of their relationship. From their interaction with your website for information, or reviews, to the parking lot, to the table and on to the follow-up after the service. It includes your newsletter or other marketing collateral sent/requested to the guest. It also includes the reviews (formal or informal) of you.

It’s the accumulation of every time they think, talk or do something with you. And here’s a kicker: it encompasses those things that you don’t do/offer but that the guest thinks you should, like:

  • not offering high chairs
  • not splitting checks
  • only accepting cash
  • requiring/not requiring reservations
  • not enough/convenient parking
  • more comfortable places to sit while waiting for a table
  • etc

To further define the guest experience lets also understand that the Gx is the core of your marketing strategy.

Now, unlike retail business where the customer experience goal is to actually not have any experience, the guest experience in a restaurant (or any hospitality business) is our product. It is a social experience. It’s a ‘day-in-the -life’ celebration of a first date, last date, anniversary, new job, lost job, birthday, or any special time to share with friends or family. People engage (the real thing) with one another and talk, laugh, share their life experiences all the while creating one.

It’s not just a plate of food or your 12 steps of service. It is much more. It’s how guests think about you. It’s how they order their lives around you. It’s about their relationships (real) with you and your staff and how they play out in their daily lives.

  • Are you close to their office? Are you their Best lunch choice? Are you the place they recommend to their co-workers and friends at work?
  • Did you host their rehearsal dinner or their wedding reception? Did they meet there?
  • Are you their favorite restaurant to get away to with their spouse or family?
  • Are you the place where they can simply have a good conversation knowing that you know and deliver on their personal expectations?
  • Are you their oasis from a chaotic life?
  • Are you engaged in their life outside of each service experience? (charity work, community support, cause marketing)
  • Are you just another stop on their daily/weekly/monthly timeline?

In other words, what meaning do you hold for your guests and how are you adding to that meaning? This is the essence of how you communicate and solidify their relationship and loyalty to your business.

Most restaurants just go through their steps of service and call it a day. This is transactional at best and a commodity experience at worst. The goal is to add value at each touchpoint that is both meaningful and differentiated. This means you need to personalize each experience as you can and to continue to grow your database of information about each guest so you can do so effectively.



What Happened To Critical Thinking?

I need to get this off my chest and out of my brain so indulge me for a moment.

There’s tons of ‘content’ on the web. In fact, according to Google, as of July there was over 38 trillion web pages on the internet.  I think we can all agree that’s a lot. In fact, I think we’re burying ourselves in content but that’s another post (more content yippee!).

No, what I need to talk about is the process of wading through it all to find original and impactful information that’s actionable. For me, that’s the pot of gold.

The sum of all this content = a lot of noise. It reminds me of when I was a child, trying to tune in radio stations on my grandparents old radio. You’d turn the dial and hear all kinds of noises that were not much more than static (until AOL made it famous).

One of the problems with all this content (on the creation side) is the lack of context. Every platform I go to has posts giving advice on all aspects of the hospitality industry from people whose only basis for saying what they say is to sell you something. A quick glance at their resume and you soon realize they’ve never worked in the business or did in ‘various capacities’ (re: shift manager at Denny’s) for a very short time. Still not the level of successful experience that would be required as a prerequisite for getting a shift supervisor’s job at McDonald’s let alone providing the basis for an extremely strategic and specific decision making process in even the smallest of operations.

The other problem are those authors those who have an abundance of experience in managing a hospitality business but never successfully. This is about as pedestrian as it gets. Operators should never listen to anyone’s opinion who has never successfully done what it is that they need/want to do. When did failing at a dozen different chain operations give you enough expertise on creating success? Sure, you know what it takes to fail a lot. So maybe you’re hoping that the law of averages helps you out. I don’t know. I really don’t understand that type of thinking.

The third level of intellectual dysfunction stems from people who claim to be industry consultants using as a basis for that claim the fact that they are vendors whose products are used by industry businesses – case in point: equipment salespeople, PR & marketing firms and the ever popular social media gurus. This one alone should be enough to make the least intelligent among us question our sanity.

Now I don’t blame them all for trying. They have to put food on the table somehow and send their spawn to public school and all. It’s kinda like those emails you get from Nigerian bankers who need to borrow your bank account to transfer funds and give you a cut in the process. (Do you ever catch yourself reading them just for the laugh?) Why do they still send them out? Because people are dumb enough to click on the links and give them their information. Hey, it only takes one right?

No, I blame readers.

How can I blame the reader you ask? Easy. The problem is a severe lack of critical thinking.

Read any post anywhere now and you see well educated, smart people using the word ‘brilliant’ 6 times in every paragraph. Forget that what was posted was the most unintelligent, anti-intellectual crap you could post. It’s the publishing equivalent of giving everyone a trophy. Go forth and publish that article on Facebook or LinkedIn and you’re rewarded for your efforts with a few ‘brilliant’s’ and even more ‘good article’ or even the pinnacle of rewards, the ‘share’.

Facebook is the ‘worsed’. LinkedIn is a close second. The level of analysis and context is worse than pedestrian. I really don’t know what word, other than just plain ole ‘dumb’ to use. I have to read 100 posts in order to find a single crumb of actual insight or wisdom.

But here go the ‘fans’ of the post author with all the, ‘this is brilliant’ you can muster.

Read the comments on these posts too. No one (except yours truly) ever questions anything! And that is where the problem lies.

Why? Is it because people are afraid to challenge anything for fear of being labeled a trouble maker? So what? I thought we celebrated the rebels in our midst? Is it because they just don’t have the intellectual chops to do so? Sometimes. Have we just gone overboard on the political correctness thing? Absolutely.  Is it now just considered to be ‘impolite’ to challenge anything any more? What happened to the idea that in order to be a thought leader you HAD to challenge things?

I often wonder why people don’t advise the banking industry or the insurance industry or the manufacturing industry the way they so nonchalantly do for the restaurant industry. Without context all advice is crap. Most articles are short on the former and full of the latter.


Social Media Notes: How Not To Tell Your Story

A few days ago Burger King posted this picture on it’s LinkedIn corporate page (40,628 followers as of this posting) here in an effort to highlight it’s “…Global Leadership Development Program 2014 class with CEO Daniel Schwartz and Executive Heitor Goncalves, during global on-boarding!”

It struck me as extremely bad on several levels.

In the digital age in which we live, how does a company as big as BK take such a lousy picture? Bad lighting, bad focus, etc.. The subject is in the background, not the foreground.

And what’s in the foreground? Four large messy tables!

Is this how a large, ‘successful’ fast-food chain tells it’s story? From two executives including the CEO of all people?!

How in the world do you not think that this is a metaphor for how they are training their managers to treat their dining rooms?

And don’t get me started on the word “Accountable” on the back wall.

This was a chance for a powerful message to be created around several issues that would have made a much more impactful statement about BK and their company’s efforts to train the next generation of managers. But…we got this instead.



Twitter & Restaurant Marketing: Some Numbers To Ponder

Speaking recently at the Digital Innovation Forum in London, Twitter’s Eimear Lambe threw out some numbers concerning restaurants and Twitter they had gleaned from surveying restaurant users on Twitter.  And while understanding them is important, the context for each individual operator is even more so.

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52% of Twitter users get some type of information about restaurants using Twitter.

The key here is ‘some type’.  The questions are: What information is the guest getting? Is it what they needed to make a visit decision? Or, is it just supportive information that helps keep them directed toward a positive decision about the restaurant? Was it negative information? What’s the ratio of positive to negative information? How do they weight the information they get?

There are seven tweets about a restaurant for every one TripAdvisor review.

However, Tweets are fleeting. That’s the point of twitter: immediacy. TripAdvisor reviews last and are aggregated by business. Tweets are not unless the business and the user do some work (consistent use of hashtags, messaging, monitoring etc…)

72% who tweet about a restaurant are actually leaving positive comments.

This is the part that is all but forgotten. You should be monitoring relevant platforms for these and aggregating/cataloging them to repurpose in your marketing. Making sure to use those that address unique points of your guest experience that have the most impact for each guest. This is one way to personalize your messaging.

78% of those who leave a negative comment are still in the restaurant while doing so.

This is an obviously unbelievable opportunity and also the greatest point of concern. The question for me is why are you seeing these on Twitter but not at the table and at the point of experience?

One in three Twitter users follow restaurants on Twitter.

The question is how many of your guests choose this or another platform to get information about your restaurant or others in your market? Is Twitter the preferred channel for them to receive communication or is it another one? How does this platform support their lifestyle? If they are on multiple platforms, how do they weight them? How much influence do these guests have with other guests?

52% of users on Twitter are more likely to visit a restaurant if some sort of discounted visit or promotion is tweeted about by the restaurant.

This is the lowest-common-denominator when it comes to guest’s motivation for making a choice. You need to understand the level of price sensitivity of your guests but more important is knowing the value drivers for those guests who would pay full-price for your experience. Those are who you should be targeting and creating for.

43% are attracted by pictures of its dishes.

Yet most operators do not have really good images to use – if they have any at all. Which amazes me because all operators understand that people eat with their eyes. Having the most appealing image of a dish should be as important as it is to costing it out.

39% are more likely to visit if people have tweeted about receiving great customer service at a restaurant.

The number dips because we know that all experiences are different and that past experiences are not necessarily good indicators of future experiences, but… Also, strangers who rave about a place are less important to us than those who are our friends and family. Which is important to know as you look for/to influencers among your guest segments.

79% are incentivised by a tweet about the food being great or positive information about the menu.

But incentivised to do what? Visit? Go look at your website? Read more Tweets about you? You have to remember that you need to create/leverage messages that funnel them toward a visit or recommendation.

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You Have Two Options:

  1. Grow your business.
  2. Make excuses.

Our powerful business programs are about helping you and your business master the fundamentals and create positive, long-term opportunity. No other program(s) offers more value with the immediate impact or greater ROI than ours or creates the level of impacting and sustainable change necessary to grow your business.

Call Us Toll Free 888-998-8744 or use the contact form to talk about how we can help you realize an opportunity.

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How Fun Creates Results

  1. Fun creates enjoyment.
  2. Enjoyment invites participation.
  3. Participation focuses attention.
  4. Attention expands awareness.
  5. Awareness promotes insight.
  6. Insight generates knowledge.
  7. Knowledge facilitates action.
  8. Action builds results.

The SHG Event Calendar For 2014

We’ve released the SHG Event Calendar for 2014.

Remaining Events:

July 14th & 15th Restaurant Marketing Workshop

Aug 11th & 12th: From Plan To Profit: How To Build & Lead A Successful Restaurant Business

Sept 15th & 16th Menu Engineering Workshop

VENUE: All SHG Events Are Held At The Residence Inn By Marriott in Fort Worth, Texas. Reservations and information can be obtained by clicking on their sponsor links on the specific event page.


TOH: Delusional Process Management Syndrome

Many of the managers I come into contact with suffer from Delusional Process Management Syndrome. They become such a slave to their emotional reaction(s) to events, they can’t strategically analyze their management processes for effectiveness.

Case in point: bad hires.

A manager hires a new _____ (insert position here) and after a short time becomes acutely aware that for one reason or another, the new hire just won’t work out. Terminated. However, instead of critically and strategically analyzing what went wrong, the manager lays blame at the feet of the employee saying things like, ‘I took them at their word…’ and ‘I gave them the benefit of the doubt…’ or some other such deflective nonsense then uses that experience as the underlying emotional justification for not ‘…trusting people until they’ve earned it…’

The real problem is that they allowed themselves to circumvent (if they used one at all) any serious process for attracting, interviewing, checking, hiring, training, Coaching, etc…to ensure a more successful outcome for both the business and the employee.

Then when they experience failure, they respond emotionally instead of critically looking at their process and deciding where they had gone wrong and make the necessary strategic or tactical adjustments.

Also, unable to accept blame and correct their thinking and their process, they double down by using emotional resolutions to justify future behavior: ‘I’ll never let that happen again. I’ll stand over their shoulder and watch their every move if I have to!’

This also manifests itself in how the manager deals with other existing employees: ‘I’ll be damned if I let anyone else pull the wool over my eyes!’ Then they go out and raise expectations for every employee, usually without communicating this to them or adding the necessary tools for the employee to reach them.

Successful managers use (and stick to) a smart, behavioral development process for their people which is critically important for ALL positions – from dish washer to Director of Operations. Fine tuning it is just as important (maybe more so) after every opportunity.

Can you guarantee that you will never make another bad hire? No.

Can you mitigate the churn caused by a bad hiring process? Yes. And in an industry with historically high turnover in both the employee and management ranks, it’s both strategically and economically important for creating the proper culture in which to build long-term success.

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