I went for a trip in Newark, New Jersey and learned some important lessons about interacting with customers. I found out that it’s better approach is to ask about your customers and learn more about them.
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The biggest lesson I learned on that trip to Birmingham didn’t happen in the restaurant, it happened when I went to a furniture store. The moment I walked into the furniture store the gentleman there went on for 10 minutes telling me everything about their furniture and the quality but never once asked a question about me.
Not once did he ask: What brings you to Birmingham? What kind of home are you guys buying? Are there any questions you have that I can help you with? Is there anything I can do to make your furniture buying process easier?
I was so turned off by the whole thing, basically just gloating about how great their furniture was the best and never once taking the time to ask me a question about me? I just walked right out.
The lesson here is that a lot of times in our restaurants we do the same thing.
Try asking them some questions and tailor the experience for them. “What brings you folks into the restaurant today? Are you going to see a movie or you on a date? Is your first time here?”.
This may not work perfectly at your fast-food restaurant but if you run a quick service or family style or fine dining restaurant, you’ve got to find out why your customers are there and know more about them.
So after Birmingham I went to New Jersey where I did a training seminar for some pizza operators at a pizza distributor show. Everyone’s agreeing that everything I said made perfect sense, but then when I made the offer to get my program and to work with me, the room empties out and no one has any questions.
Now in the room was a gentleman I’ve been working with for about two years who took his Pizza restaurants from about two million dollars, working seven days a week to seven million dollars. He was in the room giving a testimonial telling folks saying the two best decisions he ever made in his life were to get married and to buy Ryan’s restaurant owners roadmap program.
After the seminar, he and I went out for dinner and I said what was the deal with that? I said to him, “All these people respect you, they know you’ve got one of the most successful pizza restaurants in the New Jersey area, how come you were telling them that they got to do this and one even wanted to come talk to me?”
He said it’s ego!
And here’s the thing, he got invited by Grande Cheese to go to an owners summit. Each year they pick seven or eight best pizza operators across the country to participate. The crazy part was, he said of the seven best pizza operators in the country last year, they all had coaches.
Do you think it’s a coincidence that the seven best Pizza operators in the country all had a coach? And everyone else in the room was too embarrassed or too egotistical to come even ask me a question or talk to me?
So I guess the two lessons here are ask your customers what brings them into your restaurant—find out more about your customers. And get a coach.