Going above and beyond
What does going above and beyond look like?
In a previous post I highlighted the difference between service and hospitality. This was based on a podcast with Will Guidara where he talked through how he got his restaurant, Eleven Madison Park, to be voted the number one restaurant in the world by focussing not just on the food but the overall experience.
It started when he overheard some guests say the one regret of their food visit to New York was not experiencing a "dirty water hot dog". He ran out, bought a hot dog from a street vendor and persuaded his chef to serve it to the guests, explaining he didn't want them to leave New York with any food regrets.
The reaction he got was the most amazing he had ever seen about food and it only cost him $2. It came from him listening and then acting to make their experience memorable.
He learnt from this and encouraged his team to look for these opportunities. However the servers also had their normal role to perform so they added a new staff member whose sole role was to help them create these experiences:
We decided that it was important enough to invest resources to make it happen more frequently. And so we added a position to the restaurant. Someone whose only job was to help bring other people's ideas to life. So we called the position the dream weaver. I wanted people who are helping to weave dreams for people, to give people memories. People don't collect stuff anymore. They collect experiences and I wanted to create a position that could help us give people memories that would last a lifetime because if you don't have those, then is the experience even worth collecting. I think this is where leaders fall short.
In this video he gives examples of some of the experiences they have created. A couple came in to console themselves after their beach vacation was cancelled. The restaurant turned the dining area into their own beach with sand, folding chairs and a kids pool of water they could dip their feet into. For a family of four from Spain, the kids saw snow through the window for the first time, so the restaurant hired a chauffeur driven SUV, drove them to Central Park so they could play in the fresh snow.
The side effect of this was that not only were the guests happier but the team were as well. They had a chance to create and execute their own ideas.
The key is not treating people as a commodity but as a unique individual - look for opportunities to connect, make things special and memorable. And remember it can something small - it started with a $2 hot dog.
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