Service Culture: Hospitality in the Time of COVID-19

It’s safe to say that the hospitality industry has taken a major hit with the onset of COVID-19. Some hospitality businesses will survive, some will thrive, and some, unfortunately will cease to exist. When times are hard, people seek value and comfort more than any other time. Small businesses are the heart of all our communities, and now more than ever, they need our support. People are ready for whatever the “new normal” is, which makes for an audience either easy to impress, or distress. Here is the opportunity to thrive for those small businesses. Taking this time, when customer volume is low by necessity due to social distancing, what kind of impact can you make? Let’s look at a few items I would consider low-hanging fruit:

1. Over communicate about safety.

Regardless of their politics, everyone likes to know that their food and beverage, spa treatment, or hotel room was prepared with a top mind towards cleanliness. So ensure your clientele knows how seriously you take their safety. 

Provide items like disposable or web-based menus through handy QR codes, hand sanitizer placed conveniently for your guests at the entrance and in high-use locations, and signage that show your commitment to their well-being.

Highlight what you are doing to enhance safety on your website, through your social media, and when you are welcoming your guests. Build it into your welcome talk so that your guest feels confident about your safety protocols designed to keep them, and your employees, safe from COVID-19 

2. Making things easy for your clients to do business with you. 

If you are a restaurant or small food store, enhance your take-out offerings and outdoor seating.  Create options that make it easier to order again and again.

Cross-train your server staff to reception/hostess positions so that your staff can adjust their flow according to guest demand. Remember to put someone in charge of this flow if it is not you managing the floor – don’t rely on your staff to inherently know where they need to be at all times.

Create an online catalog, so that your frequent guests can at minimum buy your products, even if your storefront isn’t open. Small investments in e-commerce can carry you through some of these lean months. 

Don’t hesitate to promote on social media. Your fans want you to survive, ask them for help and support and make it easy for them to buy gift cards, even if they can’t come physically into your storefront. 

3. Generate a tracking method for your frequent visitors.

Depending on the size of your business, this could be a log-book, an excel sheet, a white board in your service area, all the way to developing guest preference tracking software. 

After you learn their name, learn their preferences. Nothing says you care like remembering that Larry, your “every Wednesday morning breakfast guest”, prefers room-temperature fizzy water over iced still water and delivering it to the table, unasked. Brand loyalty is built through consistency in meeting, or exceeding, expectations. Give your guests a reason to come back and they will!  

4. Evaluate your service.

Are things a bit slower than you’d like? Rather than bemoan circumstances that are beyond your control, seize this opportunity to do a deep-dive into your service levels. 

Once you know what your opportunity areas are, you can take some of your downtime to train all of your employees. A common comment to HR from operations folks is there is no time for training. Since we have the time now, use it wisely. 

I am rooting for our industry. I know how important good service is to a business, and to our clients and guests. Let’s come together and step up our game, collectively making hospitality the ever-flexible, ever-capable industry I know it to be. 

For more information on how It’s About the Details can assist your small business, team, or company, reach out to us at  [email protected] and we will contact you directly to help facilitate the changes your business needs. 

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