September 29, 2017

Service First

Service First

Tracy & I were sitting at dinner last week in a restaurant we eat at often in our neighborhood, and I started ranting about some of the things that bother me about restaurants which I believe shouldn’t be happening. So I decided it was a blog topic.

Now for some background. I have been eating in restaurants on a more-than-I-should-be basis ever since I entered the professional services workforce, more years ago than I’d like to admit. Lunch out on a daily basis is almost a given, not to mention the couple of times a week I have either a breakfast meeting or dinner meeting. Most of my networking and relationship-building during my professional career has occurred over a meal. Now, add to the business meals family events and celebrations, date night, and socializing with friends, and it all adds up. Without bragging, I think I’ve eaten in enough restaurants to know good service when I see it (or don’t.) Hence, this week’s ramblings.

So here goes. These are the things Jeff thinks restaurants need to improve on (in no particular order):

  • Lift your head up from the darn screen. Too often, hosts in restaurants with computerized seating charts look at the screen instead of at you. Make eye contact, smile, make a customer feel welcome.
  • Just because you are assigned a table in the computer doesn’t mean that’s the one you want. If another table is empty and you want that one, it shouldn’t involve the host, the manager, and the person escorting you to the table to figure it out. If the table is open, just empower the seater to give it to the requesting customer.
  • If you order bottled water and request fruit with it, the fruit should arrive at the same time the water does. You shouldn’t have to ask twice.
  • Hamburgers and French fries get ketchup. No great surprise here. So why do you have to ask for it after your food is delivered? It should be automatic.
  • Too many servers just take your order and disappear, not to be seen again until check time. Very rarely any more does that person actually deliver your meal. The server needs to check in no more than 2 minutes after your food arrives to make sure everything is as ordered. You shouldn’t have to search for them.
  • When you ask for and are presented with the check at the end of the meal, the server shouldn’t disappear. Requesting the check, handing it back with your credit card, and getting the receipt back to sign shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. Three is more like it. Pay attention; don’t disappear.
  • If something is not to a guest’s liking, simply apologize and then comp something. A drink, an appetizer, something the guest has already ordered. Don’t offer a dessert or after dinner drink the guest actually doesn’t want.

Now, I hope you don’t read this as some spoiled, pampered, out-of-touch executive complaining about stuff that’s not really all that important in light of some of the true hardships people across the world face on a daily basis. But for me, it’s a service lesson. Restaurants are equal parts food and service. So is Marcum, replacing the food aspect with accounting and tax knowledge. If you assume that’s a given, all we have is good service to differentiate us and give our clients a service experience they keep coming back for.

I’m personally committed to making the Marcum service experience as good as possible for all of our clients. If there’s something we can do better, please let me know.

Sundown tonight starts the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar. To those of you who observe, have an easy fast and may you be inscribed in the Book of Life for another year.