Can you put a price on great service?

by | Apr 1, 2019

Front of House is Just as Important as the Food

In a recent talk with The Caterer, Marco Pierre White attributed his success in the late 90s to shifting his energy into the front of house. He explains that he was unsatisfied with his three Michelin stars until he could accompany them with the 5 red knives and forks. Which he then accomplished a few years later. (Michelin awards décor, comfort and service on a scale of 1-5 knives and forks. Black are basic, red are superior). This is no small feat, and is the highest set of accolades a restaurant can achieve.

Striving for excellent service is not simply an attractive tag line for a marketing push. Good service is profoundly important for customer retention. “It is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.” and this couldn’t be more applicable than to the hospitality industry.


Measure Success

So how do you measure the quality of your customer service? Tipsy have written a great article on different metrics to pay attention to in this regard. The first method is specific to staff workflow: Using your POS system, your wait staff should log who served each table and (very important) how many people were at the table. This will give you information to correlate the success of your staff per customer.

It sounds like a cold way to judge at first, but research shows that people spend more for great service. Pay attention to the time of day and the busy shifts that the staff are working as well. Let’s not judge a Tuesday morning against a Saturday evening unfairly.

Management has the ability to set the tone for the entire staff and this shouldn’t be overlooked. If scheduled correctly, the effect of different supervisors can be seen through monthly accounts. Efficiencies in table turnover and quantity of sales can be compared against good ole fashioned customer feedback. Combine the right KPIs in your financial reports, your shift schedules and feedback from your customers. With this information you will be able to pick out which members of your team are really excelling at their job. Perhaps certain combinations of staff work best together.


Review Failures

The impact of poor service is deeply important:  “News of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience”. We’ve all had a waiter that ruined the tone of our meal at some point, or who didn’t resolve a problem the way we would have liked.

There are many possible reasons for an unsatisfied customer and it’s important that your staff have an appropriate amount of authority to deal with complaints. Remember, they have the closest relationship with the customer and a degree of license when resolving issues can turn a bad review into a good one. And if nothing else, make sure they know how to log a complaint for future reference. It’s important to pay attention to your metrics, it will give you the power to not just enhance your service but to avoid pitfalls.




Baxterworld are chartered management accountants who specialise in providing outsourced finance departments for the food and beverage industry. They assist the set-up of fully integrated systems to connect your POS, bookkeeping, bank reconciliations and payroll to make your business well informed and easy to run. For more information visit our homepage.