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Connect the dots

Remember those connect the dots puzzles you did as a kid? Wasn't it great fun to discover the big picture when you finished? But after a while, the puzzles weren't a challenge. You could see the whole picture without having to connect the dots.

Most of us train our restaurant employees the same way we teach kids to connect the dots. Is it any wonder that most employees don't see the guest's dining experience as a whole process? Most of them see service as a bunch of independent actions and tasks. For an inexperienced employee, service can be overwhelming and intimidating, especially when faced with the real world stress of high-maintenance customers.

It wasn't until I started using the "Sequence of Service" to train my employees that they saw the whole process from beginning to end. The Sequence of Service breaks down the entire dining experience into connected steps, beginning the moment the guest pulls into the parking lot, and ending the moment they walk out the door. This sequential approach helps employees master the flow and pace of the ideal dining experience: smooth, flawless and positive.

It's simple to develop your own Sequence of Service. Mine has seven phases, broken down into 35 individual steps. Yours might have more or fewer steps, depending on the type of service you offer.

Once you've defined the sequence, build a specific training module around each step. The seven phases I've developed can be downloaded and to put to work in your own restaurant.

Note that two of the Sequence of Service phases take place before the guest even walks through the front door. What does that have to do with service? Remember, service is any contact your guest has with your operation, it can start on the phone or in the parking lot. It's important that your staff knows and understands this, and makes these phases part of their commitment to the whole dining experience.

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