Photo courtesy istockphoto.com
Over the years that we've spent surveying hundreds of thousands of diners, one fact becomes clear: Service is *the* weak link in the restaurant industry. How do we know? Roughly 70% of all complaints we receive relate to service. Collectively, complaints about food prices, noise, crowding, smoking, and even parking make up only 30%. Moreover, the average rating for food on our 30-point scale is usually two points higher than the average rating for service. Given the fact that identical people are voting, and that there are hundreds of thousands of them, this deficit is dramatic.
It's easy to complain, but how should the industry correct the problem? To start, it's necessary to understand that there are two elements of good service. The first is hospitality. If you're warmly received by a restaurant, starting with the reservationist, you'll automatically feel better. The most successful restaurants understand this, and make sure to fill their staffs with likeable people (I'm thinking of NYC's Danny Meyer, Chicago's Rich Melman, and the New Orleans Brennan family). One famous restaurateur we know says that he never hires anyone unless he thinks his wife would like them.