By Ken Burgin
Compare two different farewell experiences:
At the first, there was a slight nod from the barman as we opened the door and left. The food had been excellent but the service minimal - no-one really knew we had gone.
Elsewhere on the next night, the food wasn't exciting but the service warm and attentive. As we left, the nearest staff member automatically moved to the door to say goodbye and shake our hands, followed by the owner who also warmly farewelled us. We returned some days later and it was just as friendly - the first time was not just luck.
Your good work can be undone in the last minute of the visitor's experience: these crucial 60 seconds need careful planning and design to ensure their visit ends on a high note, not a dull thud.
Some examples you may have experienced:
- The nearest person to the departing guest bids them a warm farewell (like the example above). This can happen no matter what size your business- it happens at my local sushi train every time!
- When you call large organisations (eg a bank) for information, you are often asked at the end of the conversation 'is there anything else we can help you with?'. This is easy to implement even with standard callers who just want the address or menu information.
- The account payment is handled quickly and accurately when a customer is ready to leave. Customers have a strange time system: sloooooow during the meal, then a rush for the account when they want to go. Organise around it, and upgrade equipment to support a better experience.
- A complimentary chocolate or small souvenir item is brought when you are obviously not ordering any more. Or your water glass is topped up one more time.
- The last taste is one of the best: delicious dessert, fresh herbal tea, an aperitif or a great coffee.
- Security guards or door people (if you use them) give a courteous farewell, not just a silent stare. These people are so rarely used for a positive PR role - make it part of their job.
- The final experience outside: nothing alarming in the street as customers leave, and their car is still where they left it!
The final 60 seconds needs as much scripting as order taking or phone sales: when it becomes a standard, friendly routine, the return rate is sure to be higher!
About Ken Burgin
Ken Burgin has been actively involved in restaurants and cafes for more than 25 years. First as the owner of Caffe Troppo and partner in Paganini Restaurant in Sydney, Australia, and for the past 12 years, working with restaurants, hotels and cafes in an advisory role. He also travels frequently to the USA and Europe to keep track of the the latest and most useful industry trends, which he shares with members in frequent website updates www.profitablehospitality.com.