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A fresh approach to some common quick-service ailments: suggestive selling and the pre-shift huddle. Instead of forcing a program, each day the duty managers "select their contest" from a list of contests and review the focus with their employees. Not only does it create variety each shift, it forces the managers to take the lead and spend some quality time with teaching and leading their employees.

As I often say, "if you want to change the Guest experience, you have to radically alter the employee experience." How can you significantly enhance the employee environment so it will translate into improved Guest satisfaction?

Training & Coaching.

When operators think of employee training and its effectiveness, we often only focus on the initial phase -- the first few days to a week of employment, or the pre-opening period of a new unit. If you surveyed your Guests about their thoughts on employee training, they would base it solely on how their service and food was during the visit.

Too often, managers feel like "we have good training"-- but how good is the service? Companies send in expert opening teams to assist with store openings, but three months down the road, the same average (or below average) service has infiltrated the unit. Is that training effective? Not if you are a Guest in the unit after it has been open for a few months.

With the creation of online courses, certified training stores and certified trainers, most training efforts are focused on the initial period. The managers or employees may be trained at, say, a 90-percent level. They then return to their unit that runs at 75 percent. After a short while there, they run 75-percent shifts. How long would your car run without proper service?


As a variation on the pre-shift huddle, manager meets for a short "TIP" (Talk into Position) with each employee. They cover the contest of the day and role-play selling lines and/or greetings. These items can often be done as a group to save time, but ensure everyone practices on you before the Guest!

A sample "TIP" might go something like this:

Manager: Ben, the contest today is selling Original Hamburger. How can we up-sell that?

Ben: I can ask, "Would you like to add cheese on your hamburger?"

Manager: You could, but a more effective response would be, "We have the Make it a meal that features the Original hamburger, American Fries and a Soda Pop / Deluxe Milk Shake”. Which would you prefer?" The Guest is given a choice versus a sale, and you'll get more positive responses. Now you try…

Ben: We have the make it a meal that features the Original hamburger, American Fries and a Soda Pop / Deluxe Milk Shake. Which would you prefer the Original hamburger or the Make it a meal?

Manager: Great! The other focus today is over/short. Focus on keeping your guest average above KD 5. By the way, you can still add the cheese on the original hamburger to increase your overall guest check average.

Short, sweet and effective.

Ben now has a new skill to provide superior service to our Guests.

At the end of the shift, managers “TOP (Talk Out of Position) the employees. They review the shift with the employee and discuss the strengths and opportunities. In our scenario above, the manager will discuss with Ben how well he sold, as well as his average per guest. The same TIP/TOP approach can be taken in the kitchen to focus on key items such as product presentation, cook times, or food waste.

The TIP/TOP, defines accountability as "how often you bring it up." People don't want to be held accountable if it is only in a negative fashion. Use positive accountability to build your service levels and team performance. The power of recognition is an amazing tool to drive desired behaviors.

The “TOP is also a great time to find out from the employees how they are doing, as well as how the Guest is responding to the offer. In essence, it is a daily performance evaluation and a great use of 30 seconds of your time. Combined for all your employees, the TIP/TOP will take about 10-15 minutes total. Teaching and training ten minutes a day will reap huge rewards!

Ongoing training not only provides better service to our Guests, it affords us the opportunity to review our key priorities, focus on key items, and provide daily, crystal-clear direction and feedback to our employees. The competitors may copy your concept, but they cannot imitate how you treat your Guests or employees!

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