Updated: Aug 7, 2021
Can the Food Service Industry teach us how to improve?
My family loves to try new restaurants, it's kind of our thing. Eating out and experiencing the foods, atmosphere, and new people are extremely enjoyable for us. My wife and I have been in customer service for most of our perspective careers, and so we have a high standard when we visit a new establishment. When we find a place that wows us, we will always make our way back. One of our evenings out as a family we decided to try a new pizza place that we had driven passed many times. When we arrived we were greeted right away and told to expect a short wait time. While we waited we took our time looking around and were pleasantly surprised how fancy and clean the place was. After waiting to be seated we were escorted to our table and were given instructions on how to view the menu. Our waiter promptly came and took our drink order and immediately we liked him. He was friendly and you could tell he enjoyed what he was doing. When my wife asked about the flavors of coffee they had she was told it was just basic coffee and creamer. Anyone paying attention could see that she was disappointed, but without missing a beat he immediately offered to allow her to use his personal flavored creamer. My wife's demeanor changed right away and they shared a moment of their love for flavored creamer. The rest of the evening went great and we had a few laughs with our waiter and then our evening came to an end. As we were ready to leave he told us how much he enjoyed our company and that he'd love to see us back soon. We have been back many times since then, and always request to sit in his section.
No matter what area of the Creative Service Industry you belong to, we can all relate to an experience of going out to eat. Our cousins in the Food Service Industry have much to teach us. It is not all positive, but they provide us with a great example of what to do and what not to do. From the story you just read about my family's experience, we can select all the things that went right and apply them to ourselves when we provide services to our clients. Here are the major points that caused our experience to be exceptional:
We were greeted right away
We were told how long we could expect to wait
The environment was pleasing to the eyes and ears
Friendly demeanor from the wait staff
Excellent customer service
Willingness to go above and beyond
Product was great (in this case it was food, our service is usually our product)
Invited us back
This is retention and customer service 101, and yet we in the Creative Service Industry often forget that in order to retain our customers, first we must wow them with exceptional customer service.
Imagine if you will, a bucket. This bucket is not an ideal bucket because it is full of holes. Your job is to fill this bucket with water and you can't stop until it is full. Sounds miserable doesn't it? This is exactly what we are experiencing when we are not focused on retaining our clients and customers. No matter if your salon, spa, or shop is walk-in or appointment based, retaining everyone that receives a service or product from you should be your number one goal.
If we continue with the "bucket analogy", then it is important to remember that you will always have at least a small leak. Clients will leave from time to time, that is normal. So we must always have a focus on growing our client base and retaining all that we can. Remember this, it takes a lot of time, effort, and money to draw in a new customer. You should be fighting to keep them! Here are some additional best practices for retaining your clients:
Remember things about your clients-In the age of technology and apps, you have many many ways of keeping notes on your clients/customers. Jot down a note about anything that may be worth bringing up on their next visit. I guarantee they will be pleasantly surprised and impressed you remembered. No need to share with them that you had to write it down, remember it's the thought that counts.
Be their entertainer-You can choose to make them laugh, or think, or you can just be fun to look at. No matter what angle you choose, remember to always be on top of your game and be consistent. I personally like to make my clients and customers laugh, I've found it to be most effective when my goal is to be remembered.
Reassure your clients that their needs come first-this can be demonstrated in many ways. No matter what situation comes up, be sure you put you clients needs first. One way you can show this is simply telling them "My goal is to make sure your needs are met, you are my number one priority right now".
Always treat them like family- Whether you are a tattoo artist in a shop, an esthetician at a spa, or a stylist in a salon, you should find a way to treat your customers and clients like family. It all starts with how you speak to them. Address them with respect and let them know you are there to serve and take care of them. You don't have to give them free things or let them sleep in the back, all it takes is an adjustment in your body language, being attentive & caring, and recommending products and services that are in their best interest. Establishing trust and comfort are two areas that will go a long way to build that relationship of a long lasting client.
Fill your bucket the way you want to
One of the many benefits of client retention is you get control what goes in your bucket. Imagine, one day you are looking at your very full appointment book and all you see are familiar names. Its a wonderful feeling. You can take two different approaches to filling your bucket, you can either throw everything in there you can, and do your best to keep it nice and full, or you can be selective on what you put in. There are pros and cons for either approach so do what's best for you.
If you decide to catch every drop you can to fill your bucket you will build faster, and not limit your income potential. The downside to that is you may still be working with people that you don't like. To some of you that is not important, or maybe everyone likes you and you like everyone, all the time, but that is not usually the case. The other approach is to be more selective on what you place in your bucket. If you choose this method you will grow a little slower and may limit your over all potential income, at least right away. The greatest benefit to this approach is you will only be left servicing your best clients who love you the most. This means that you will have a collection of clients who are forgiving & flexible, they understand you & like you for who you are, and they also love the way you do what you do. This allows you to be more at ease and produce your best work.
You control the course of your career, so take the wheel and go the way you want to go. You will have bumps in the road along the way so be sure to learn from each of them and adjust accordingly. There is nothing worse than repeating the same mistake, over and over again. If you truly want to grow in your field, whether its in Cosmetology, Barbering, Esthetics, Manicuring, Floral or Interior Design, or Tattooing, you will start by setting yourself a goal to have the best customer service you can have in order to retain everyone that comes to you for services. If you radiate your love and joy for your chosen field, people will want to surround you to feel some of your awesomeness.
When you start to get overwhelmed or have lost sight of the big picture, think of this quote; "Many drops make a bucket, many buckets make a pond, many ponds make a lake, and many lakes make an ocean." Percy Ross. We all have our part to play in the ocean of creativity, so don't get lost in the size of it all, focus on your part and keep moving forward.
I challenge you all to plug the holes in your buckets, and get out there and make the $ you deserve with the career you have chosen.
If you want more education to lead you on the path to success, be sure to discuss this with your salon, shop, or spa leader or owner and schedule a class today!