Image Above: Danny Meyer on Hospitality...the root word of Hospice
In my last newsletter I introduced Danny Meyer the famous NYC restauranteur with radical ideas about "enlightened hospitality". His commitment to extraordinary customer service begins first with an excellent staff. How do you hire - for skills, or for people smarts? My philosophy has always led me to look first for personality, a sense of mission, and cultural fit, because the rest can be learned.
Danny dealt with a similar situation in staffing his first restaurant. As he describes the process, “My brain was looking for people with restaurant skills, but my heart was beseeching me to cultivate a restaurant family. The job application form I wrote was idiosyncratic: I typed questions like, “How has your sense of humor been useful to you in your service career?” “What was so wrong about your last job?” “Do you prefer Hellmann’s or Miracle Whip?” If you’re trying to provide engaging hospitality and outstanding technical service, there must also be a certain amount of fun involved, and those bizarre questions gave me an idea of whether or not applicants had a sense of humor.” How often do your employees need a good sense of humor just to get through a taxing day with grace? And how often do you consider that attribute when you hire?
As with hospice, Meyer sees a difference between simply carrying out assigned duties, and seeing them as an expression of a greater mission: “Understanding the distinction between service and hospitality has been at the foundation of our success. Service is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel. To be on a guest’s side requires listening to that person with every sense, and following up with a thoughtful, gracious, appropriate response. It takes both great service and great hospitality to rise to the top. But hospitality, which most distinguishes our restaurants—and ultimately any business—is the sum of all the thoughtful, caring, gracious things our staff does to make you feel we are on your side when you are dining with us.”
How often do you let your staff know when you see them going above and beyond the simple delivery of service, and that you appreciate and support them in their efforts? It matters.
What can hospice possibly learn from a top-flight New York restaurateur like Danny Meyer? As it turns out, plenty - especially if we’re looking for insight on how to find and keep great staff.