Training and hiring consultant Shelley Solomon-Prueter gave her audience at the North American Pizza and Ice Cream Show some practical advice at the start of her seminar, "Creating a Culture of Service Excellence": Good service boils down to choosing the right team to execute on your wait standards and corporate culture.
"Hire nice people, then give them the tools to succeed," Solomon-Prueter said. She then offered a five-step program to fulfill that directive: be a great company, hire winners, train right, manage right and continue education.
Being a great company, said Solomon-Prueter, attracts good people. Portraying yourself as a good company includes not putting up hostile signs like "we will not serve you if you are on your cell phone." This creates a poisonous atmosphere for potential and existing employees as well as customers, and reflects a controlling management style.
"You don't need a lot of policies," Solomon-Prueter said. "Hire people you trust, then empower them."
Hiring right depends on asking the right questions, according to the presenter. The most important paradigm is to hire attitude and teach skill. To ensure your candidates have the basic skills they need to be assets, build some tailored, quantifiable tests into your interview process.
After hiring, Solomon-Prueter extoled the virtues of extensive training. She said she often hears the question "What if I train them [new hires], and they don't stay?" Her answer is, "What if you don't, and they do?" Solomon-Prueter suggested an immersive, days-long training programs that teaches everything from back-end logistics to service standards and more.
She also suggested managers look inward to see where they can improve on management skills to raise service standards. Offering praise and feedback will help staff members feel like they're on course and valued.
Finally, the speaker recommended a six-week continuous improvement course for ongoing education. But any extra or ongoing education will make for better management and floor staff.