I went to a restaurant this week and as I approached the bar the barman, who was serving other people, turned, smiled and informed me that he’d be with me in a minute. He also put a napkin on the bar in front of me which further acknowledged my arrival. When he had finished serving the other guests, he turned to me, put out his hand to shake mine and said “Welcome, I’m Steve, how are you?”
I shook his hand (it would have been rude not to) and I also found myself telling him my name. Here is the really interesting thing. From the minute I shook his hand, the relationship between Steve and I changed. I was now somehow part of the gang. I’d crossed the threshold from mere customer to ‘friend’ of the restaurant.
Now drinking my wine, and by the way, he did use my name when he put the glass of wine in front of me, I sat back and people watched. Steve took this approach with all the customers at the bar and it was quickly very obvious the effect it was having on the atmosphere, the customer relationships, the conversation and, I believe, the bar takings.
What I like is the fundamental understanding that hospitality businesses are built on people and relationships. Yes we want people to enjoy the food and the drink but when they leave and tell their friends “I go their because I like the people” then we’re really getting somewhere.