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Every restaurant is not immune when it comes to inferior customer service or food related issues. I travel all throughout the United States, with that being said I do have to eat.
When I do visit a restaurant, I am very particular about the service and food. Most restaurant owners and managers critique the service and food as they visit restaurants.
I recently visited an IHOP restaurant in Winchester, Virginia, below is my assessment about the service and food.
I teach restaurants servers to approach the guest under 2 minutes. The server approached our table within an okay time frame under 4 minutes.
The server took our drink and food order relatively fast. The drink order should typically be delivered less than 4 minutes. They server met that goal. Breakfast delivery should be under 7 minutes. The food was delivered less than 15 minutes. Lunch orders should be delivered less than 10-12 minutes or less. Dinner orders should be delivered less than 15 minutes or less. Meals that are more complex will take longer to prepare. Our breakfast came out fresh and hot, very delicious.
Overall, I give this restaurant a B- for customer service. This restaurant provided just okay service. The goal is to get the guest to embed into their mind exceptional customer service. If the restaurant manages to make that happen then there is a high chance of repeat business and word of mouth engagement.
The Customers Eye
The restaurant is over 25 years old. The condition of the restaurant is in terrible shape. Customers will not revisit the restaurant if it is not up to their standards. That is why it is important to have the restaurant in a pristine or a as new condition.
What is the Customer’s Eye?
Viewing the restaurant through the customer’s eye; understanding their perspective. It is very important to eliminate all issues that the guest can see.
Some of the issues that I saw were:
- Several booth cushions had large tears in them.
- Carpets were in terrible condition, rips and holes.
- Tables had chips and table bases were dirty.
- Our menus had food debris on them.
- The service aisle and kitchen was in view; countertops were clean, although the floors were dirty. The drains were rusty and worn out. The server area walls had several small holes in them.
- The men’s restaurant was really bad. There was an employee cleaning the restaurant using a pine soil scented cleaner that masked the odors. It was clear the 25 years of wear and tear was presented.
As I paid the check at the register, I asked to speak to the restaurant manager. I gave my business card to the employee to give to the general manager. A few minutes went by and the GM approached me. I introduced myself and explained that when I visit restaurants I like to point out the good and the bad.
I did mention that the food was delicious and the service was just okay. I also mentioned the areas of opportunity. I told the GM that in the restaurants that I ran we always kept backups of 2 tops, 4 tops and 6 top booth cushions on-hand. If there were booth cushions were in bad shape we replaced them with new ones. In this particular restaurant you needed a divined intervention to correct the issues. It seems that the worn out booth cushions were budgeted in the Feb 2018 budget. A budget should not include issues that can affect repeat business or what the guest can see.
Word of Mouth
Word of Mouth is a very powerful advertisement or repeat business tool. If the restaurant and the employees provide exceptional service, then the guest may tell their friends, family and co-workers about the restaurant service and food, this will impact repeat business. On the other hand, below average service & food will create the opposite effect, causing declining sales & customer counts.
I will not recommend this restaurant and most likely will not return. This does not mean that all IHOPS are in the same situation at this restaurant. It is clear that the service needs to improve and that the corporate offices need to prioritize in fixing the issues that can affect sales and repeat business rather than treating these issues as a budget issue. Not sure if it is a management issue or a corporate level issue. In most cases, these restaurants are mis- managed. These restaurant managers are complacent because they either don’t care or they are wearing side blinders or they are not trained correctly.
There are many corporate, franchise and independently owned restaurants that fall under the same category in providing just okay service/food or terrible service & food.