Here is what I believe: You are either serving the customer or you are serving someone who is.
Simply put…Everyone’s job exists to do something for someone else. Therefore, everyone’s job is important, needed, and relevant. The Dalai Lama once said, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito”.
Front of House and Back of House
In almost every service-based business, there is the “front of house” (FOH) and the “back of house” (BOH). The FOH consists of all the customer-contact staff, and the BOH is comprised of those folks who are not as seen, but still play a crucial role. Cooks, Laundry attendants, Dishwasher/Kitchen stewards, etc. In some places, the BOH is sometimes called the Heart of the House.
Those, who have direct customer contact may receive more adulation because of the highly visible nature of their roles. Conversely, those who have less customer contact may feel like their role is, somehow, less significant.
The Sous Chef
On that note, allow me to introduce you to Chef Rafferty. He is a sous chef at Shore Lodge in McCall, Idaho. During a recent trip, I ordered a Mahi-Mahi fish taco through room service. A few minutes later, I received a phone call from a room service employee stating that their fish shipment did not arrive that morning; therefore, the Mahi-Mahi was unavailable. No worries. I requested the fish taco to be made with salmon instead. Delicious!
Now, here’s the good part. The next morning, I received a hand-written letter from Chef Rafferty (on hotel letterhead, no less). It read:
Dear Mr. Williams,
I would like to personally apologize for not having the Mahi taco available for your room order yesterday. Thankfully, we have received our fish order this morning. We would be happy to prepare this if you are still interested. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you during your stay.
Michael Rafferty, Sous Chef
The hotel’s scenic views were great. The food was great. The service was great. The highlight of my trip, however, was Chef Rafferty’s letter, and the caring that went with it.
Being exceptional is a deeply personal decision. No one can MAKE you work like you own it. Whenever people do things they don’t like to do, it shows. However, if there is honor for what you do, then you will consistently strive to present your work in the best possible light.
In my opinion, one of the most beautiful things in the world is seeing someone work with deep passion, pride and professionalism. This is especially true in the hospitality industry. An engaged team leads to engaged guests, who return and refer consistently.
So, to everyone who works in the “back of the house”, please know that you have the power to touch lives. Know that your contributions are deeply appreciated. Know that you are seen. I see you…the world sees you…and everyone needs you.
From this day forward, don’t just do the job for which you are paid, but be the rock of the operation; the light of the operation; and the heart of the operation.