Founder/president of Service Arts Inc., Eric Weiss.
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Service Station: Post Holiday Blues

Eric Weiss - February 10th, 2014

Once again, service consultant Eric Weiss steps in to help you pep up your staff, following the holiday season's rigors. Weiss is the founder/president of Service Arts Inc.

The holiday season is over. Your staff is exhausted, fed up with the hospitality business, ready to pack a suitcase and leave for Aspen or Las Vegas or Bermuda with the money they’ve earned, perhaps never to return again.

This is definitely a time to let your staff know that they’re appreciated. Here are some thoughts for keeping them connected and motivated before or after they choose the slopes, slots, or beaches.

Outings: Taking a trip to somewhere fun can be one of the best ways to reenergize a team. If it can be educational, so much the better; renting a private dining room in a restaurant, visiting a local winery, or a grower, or a purveyor (with a lunch!), going bowling together, anything that bonds the group outside of the workplace.

Team Dining: Another viable option is dining in small groups at nearby restaurants, then sharing assessments of their hospitality components. Not only does it give staff members a chance to be together outside of the restaurant, but also they can be more critical with their observations. From a financial standpoint, it can be advantageous for restaurateurs to barter with one another, thus sparing the expense of everyone’s meal. This option is also relevant to those in lodging. (Note: This is not a restaurant bashing session, nor should it be allowed to turn into one. Going into another restaurant should be approached from a learning and constructive observation standpoint.)

Time Off: I recently consulted with a hospitality group that closes each of its restaurants for a day following the holidays so their staffs can celebrate with family. These are restaurants with seating of up to 350 guests, so one can imagine the revenues sacrificed in the name of appreciation. It may not be possible for all restaurants; however, an alternative plan may be a gathering on a day when the restaurant is closed.

Competitions: A creative competition can also work wonders. The more challenging and fun, the more likely your team will want to be involved. Keep time frames short—perhaps over the course of one or two weeks. Don’t give them time to become bored. Make sure that someone quantifies the results. Try to stay away from the standard “who sells the most specials,” etc. Instead, create small teams and have everyone vote on the most helpful one, the most patient one, or the most product-knowledgeable one.

Rewards: Rewards, just as in personalized service, need to be customized to the person or persons acknowledged. They don’t have to be expensive or elaborate. Sometimes the simplest and most heartfelt of gifts create the most impact. Acknowledgement is what is important.

“Serve well those who are near, and those who are far will come.” This proverb has resounded deeply in my service soul. Truth be told, who could be nearer, outside of your family, than those people you work with day in, day out.