Are Your Guest Experience Teams Practicing Enlightened Hospitality?

Church leaders need to understand the fact that our competition is not other churches; it’s places that provide WOW! Experiences and to which guests compare our churches.

While that may seem a negative, it can also be turned into a positive by LEARNING from those top-notch places and their leaders.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Setting the Table, by Danny Meyer

Seventy-five percent of all new restaurant ventures fail, and of those that do stick around, only a few become icons. Danny Meyer started Union Square Cafe when he was 27, with a good idea and hopeful investors. He is now the co-owner of a restaurant empire. How did he do it? How did he beat the odds in one of the toughest trades around? In this landmark book, Danny shares the lessons he learned developing the dynamic philosophy he calls Enlightened Hospitality. The tenets of that philosophy, which emphasize strong in-house relationships as well as customer satisfaction, are applicable to anyone who works in any business. Whether you are a manager, an executive, or a waiter, Danny’s story and philosophy will help you become more effective and productive, while deepening your understanding and appreciation of a job well done.

Setting the Table is landmark a motivational work from one of our era’s most gifted and insightful business leaders.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Danny Meyer is the founder and co-owner of multiple top-rated New York restaurants, as well as an internationally recognized expert in the area of hospitality. In his book “Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business,” Meyer shares the lessons he’s learned while developing the winning recipe for doing the business he calls “enlightened hospitality.” They are lessons that the church can learn from.

One of those lessons is a simple but powerful statement you’ve probably heard in various forms. Meyer states it this way: “Excellence is a journey rather than a destination.” There’s no point in working hard only to offer guests an average experience.

And for Meyers, the journey to an exceptional guest experiences starts with a proper understanding of hospitality.

Hospitality is present when something happens for you. It is absent when something happens to you. Those two prepositions – for and to – express it all.

Hospitality is the foundation of my business philosophy. Virtually nothing else is as important as how one is made to feel in any business transaction. Hospitality exists when you believe the other person is on your side.

Understanding the distinction between service and hospitality has been at the foundation of our success. Service is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes it recipient feel. Service is a monologue – we decide how we wan to do thins and set our own standards for service.

Hospitality, on the other hand, is a dialogue. To be on a guest’s side requires listening to that person with every sense, and following up with a thoughtful, gracious, appropriate response. It takes both great service and great hospitality to rise to the top.

People duck as a natural reflex when something is hurled at them. Similarly, the excellence reflex is a natural reaction to fix something that isn’t right, or to improve something that could be better. The excellence reflex is rooted in instinct and upbringing, and then constantly honed through awareness, caring, and practice. The overarching concern to do the right thing well is something we can’t train for. Either it’s there or it isn’t. So we need to train how to hire for it.

The idea of someone giving 110 percent is about as realistic as working to achieve the twenty-six hour day. At our restaurants, we are hoping to develop 100 percent employees whose skills are divided 51-49 between emotional hospitality and technical excellence. These are 51 percenters.

Danny Meyer, Setting the Table

A NEXT STEP

Your Guest Experience team members may not operate under the same pressures as the staff in a highly regarded restaurant. But if the CEO of a restaurant recognizes that the human beings who animate his restaurants have far more impact on whether they succeed than the food, the decor, or the location, I would say that is a lesson worth learning – and applying – at your church.

In the excerpt above, Danny Meyer talks about developing 100 percent employees whose skills are divided 51-49 between emotional hospitality and technical excellence. He calls them “51 Percenters.”

Meyer believes that a 51 percenter has five core emotional skills. These core skills are also important for your teas. If your team has these skills, you can be champions at the team sport of Guest Experiences.

In preparation for your next team training time, write the following skills and explanations on chart tablets, one per page.

  • Optimistic warmth – genuine kindness, thoughtfulness, and a sense that the glass is always at least half full
  • Intelligence – not just “smarts”, but rather an insatiable curiosity to learn for the sake of learning
  • Work ethic – a natural tendency to do something as well as it can possibly be done
  • Empathy – an awareness of, care for, and connection to how others feel and how your actions make others feel
  • Self-awareness and integrity – an understanding of what makes you tick and a natural inclination to be accountable for doing the right thing with honesty and superb judgment.

In the training session, review each skill and explanation. In a team discussion, ask them to share how they have used a particular skill recently in their roles on the hospitality team. Also, ask the team to share where there was a “miss,” and the skill would have been helpful.

Now, go back and have each team member rate themselves on how they are doing with these skills on a scale of 1 – 5, where 1 means the skill is barely present and 5 means the skill is a consistent part of their actions and attitudes.

Ask the group as a whole how they can improve their ratings; list their responses for each skill on the respective chart tablet.


 

I’m proud to be a part of the Auxano team, where our 15 years of onsite Guest Perspective Evaluations with over 500 churches form the basis of the Guest Experience Boot Camp. Held on August 29-30 at The Cove Church in Mooresville, NC (Charlotte), the Boot Camp will provide two days of collaborative learning that will help your church develop its front line. Up to five members of your team can attend for an investment of $1,995 for the whole team.

Learn more and register here.

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