Service Excellence: Lessons from a 5 Star/5 Diamond Restaurant

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Years ago, I heard a French wine maker say, “Good is not good enough; in fact, it has to be perfect all the time”. He was referring to the detail and care that goes into growing grapes at his winery. That one quote captures the essence of what a 5-star/5-diamond restaurant strives for. I recently dined at Lautrec, which is a 5-star/5-diamond restaurant at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, PA. While I have dined in exceptional restaurants in the past, this was among the best in the world, by far. So, in the spirit of Give.Share.Teach, I would like to highlight some key points that anyone (in any industry) can learn from Lautrec.

Reverence

One of the first things customers should notice is that they are the absolute focus of your team’s attention. At Lautrec, I felt like I was the guest of honor at a high-profile gala. The beautiful thing is that I am sure that every guest felt that way also. Being a 5 star/5 diamond restaurant means that you have a laser-like focus on whomever you happen to be serving at the moment; whether it is for 15 seconds or 15 minutes. 

*Discuss this question with your team: What can you and your team do to make your customer’s feel like they are the guest of honor at a banquet?

Personal Touches

At Lautrec, the attention-to-detail is key. For example, my name was printed on the menu. Beyond looking “cool”, the customized menu signified that they were prepared for me and cared enough to add a special touch. Again, every guest received this. You see, it’s not enough to be exemplary every now and then. 5-star/5-diamond means that you are exemplary ALL the time. To a certain degree, you have to maintain a binary view of the products and services you offer. They should be either exceptional, or completely poor. When you are trying to deliver a world-class service experience, it can be dangerous to have gray areas. Those gray areas can easily multiply and infect other services and products that you are offering. 

*Discuss this question with your team: How can you and your team customize the experience more for your customers?

Knowledge

At Lautrec, my server literally knew everything about everything on the menu. When I asked him about champagne, he told me about the taste, the region the grapes were grown, the temperature and a little story about the winemaker. When I asked about a salad item, he went into similar and exciting detail. The server spoke about garden greens like they were the greatest creation of mankind. He was not only very knowledgeable, but he was happy to be very knowledgeable. True service professionals stand out from the crowd because of their commitment to excellence. 

*Discuss this question with your team: What information should everyone on your team know about their profession, company, and industry?

Gracious Goodbye

At Lautrec, the farewell experience was just as memorable as the welcoming experience. I received a tour of the kitchen and the culinary staff was waiting to greet and thank me for coming in. At the end of the tour, the chef signed the menu, then rolled it up like a scroll as a memento.

*Discuss this question with your team: How can you and your team enhance the farewell experience? 

Not everyone is willing to work in an environment where excellence is expected every day. That statement is true for both leaders and line staff. As an employee, you have to bring a certain amount of innate passion, pride and professionalism to the job. As a leader, you must have an eye for detail, expect excellence every day, and maintain a healthy intolerance for mediocrity. But above all, a leader in a 5-star/5-diamond caliber team MUST model the service they expect to see. 

Perhaps the biggest lesson I took from Lautrec is that there is something special and inspiring about caring deeply for your craft. That caring is manifested through reverence, personal touches and being knowledgeable, among other things. Good is not good enough; in fact, it has to be perfect all the time. 

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Today is NOT the Day

If anyone is going to do a shortcut, it won’t be me. I refuse to do my job half-way. Not today. There are all kinds of ways for things to go wrong. Let them be accidents. I will not allow myself to intentionally do less than I am capable of doing.

I Have Your Back

📣To all leaders everywhere: Imagine that each of your team members wrote this to you…
…………………..
⭐I need to know that you trust and believe in me. A mission statement or memo won’t do. I need you to tell me…and mean it.