What retailers can learn from the restaurant business

5 Comments | This entry was posted in Events, Retail Trends

Retail’s BIG ShowRetailers at the Annual Retail Industry Luncheon got a treat this week when Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, shared some insights from the restaurant world.

Danny Meyer speaks at Retail's BIG Show 2012

Restaurateur Danny Meyer discusses hospitality at Retail's BIG Show 2012.

Even if you’re the absolute best at doing what your business is supposed to do, Meyer said, your customers will only give you 49 points out of a 100. You can earn the other 51 points with only one thing—good hospitality.

Both restaurateurs and retailers can’t succeed without doing a good job of making their customers feel good. Your steak might be great, but people can get a great steak in lots of places. They go back to Meyer’s establishments because of how they are made to feel.

Hospitality is an intangible thing that’s tricky to explain. Meyer describes it as making the customer feel like you’re on their side. The concept is also a difficult one to execute because hospitality is one size fits one. You have to read your customers’ minds.

The key to getting it right is building a team that has incredibly high emotional skills – a collection of specific traits that contribute to what Meyer calls a “Hospitality Quotient.” Like a high IQ: You have it or you don’t.

“You can’t teach hospitality,” Danny said. “It means they’re someone who’s at their happiest when they’re making someone else feel good.”

Retailers today are all about the customer experience, but all the technologies and tools on the EXPO floor won’t help you win if you don’t have the right people and culture.

“For those who are looking for the most powerful differentiator in terms of creating an experience…you have to stock your store not just with the best stuff, but the people who live for making other people happy,” Meyer said.

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5 Comments

  1. Posted January 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Meyer NAILS it. I say it similarly. The service industry is plagued by companies hiring non-service people to interface with customer. I love this:

    ““You can’t teach hospitality,” Danny said. “It means they’re someone who’s at their happiest when they’re making someone else feel good.”

    Retailers today are all about the customer experience, but all the technologies and tools on the EXPO floor won’t help you win if you don’t have the right people and culture.

    “For those who are looking for the most powerful differentiator in terms of creating an experience…you have to stock your store not just with the best stuff, but the people who live for making other people happy,” Meyer said.”

  2. Posted January 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I agree for the most part but the tides are a changing. I am on the board of two university programs that teach hospitality and I the students there are all about hospitality(for the most part). We advise the school on technology in the hospitality industry and being hospitable in the future is going to become even more difficult as there is a new customer that lives on the smart phone. I have seen it happen that when they check in a hotel there can be three front desk people there ready to help and the “guest” is looking to see if they can check in the with their phone first, if not where is the KIOSK?
    With a guest that wants to use technology if you want direct conversation you are not being hospitable. But if you could know who they are a test them as they arrive they would feel like they just came home. It is a changing time. Can I browse for a place to eat, view the menu, make a reservation, order and pay without saying a word to anyone. For a growing group this would be heaven.
    You now have to deal with the seniors(no technology), the middle(cell phones) and the M generation “do it all on the net” Hire wisely!!!

  3. avatar jane orner
    Posted January 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    I DO think you can teach hospitality – people can mean well but not say the right words or do the right things because they don’t know better. Having watched my son wait tables over the years and learn more and more, I know that (especially younger) staff need pointers. Polished and appropriate language and behavior can be taught, more s than a general cheeriness and generosity which are also parts of hospitality and may be more inheritant in someone’s personality.

  4. Posted January 21, 2012 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    I am a big fan and follower of Danny Meyer. His philosophy of the Hospitality Quotient is right on. Not only will the customer remember how they were made to feel, but, when something goes wrong–it happens–they will remember how it was made right.

  5. Posted February 9, 2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    I agree, you can not teach hospitality. There is one more very important factor in the Food and Beverage business…………Personality. You can not teach personality. Either you have it or you don’t.

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