Maintaining consistent guest experience in fast-expanding businesses


Maintaining consistent guest experience in fast-expanding businesses

Maintaining consistent guest experience in fast-expanding businesses

Associate Director of Hospitality Culture, David Pepper, explores how expanding hospitality providers can deliver a consistent guest experience whilst maintaining their core business processes.

When businesses expand quickly, it can be difficult to maintain consistency of guest experience throughout an organisation. Even with a well-defined concept, where the menu and decor are decided centrally and are closely monitored, service can vary significantly from one site to another. In order to avoid this, it’s important to identify core behaviours that embody the ethos of the business. Well thought-out processes can help to ensure that all staff adhere to these guidelines.

For some businesses, delivering a successful expansion programme forces those managing the business centrally to refer back to the original ethos of the business. Wagamama’s Chief Executive David Campbell revealed earlier this year that when he was planning the chain’s recent expansion, he turned back: to a book written x years ago by Wagamama’s founder Alan Yau, and: “asking where we might have lost our way.” Wagamama are HGEM clients, and our guest feedback tells us that their core appeal: fresh food delivered in a relaxed, fun and friendly environment – are consistently delivered across a fast-expanding empire.

As a general rule, hospitality business have got wise to the importance of metholodigising their guest experience to ensure they can create a ‘play book’ that encapsulates the ideal guest experience as well as business processes. This can be implemented by management and teams in new sites and should give helpful pointers on service that matches the brand values.

One common problem with businesses on an expansion drive is that the company focus can turn to the newest site. A launch team is often brought in to deliver the opening of a new site, ensuring the opening is a success and helping embed the culture, implementing training and set-up processes. All the energy and attention of head office is focused on the new launch during this crucial initial phase. The downside of this is inevitable – once the business is up and running and the launch team is moved onto the next location, or senior team members go back to head office, the team left behind may feel forgotten and begin to lose direction. Guests will feel this vacuum indirectly – picking up on subtle clues that team members seem to be wanting for motivation and leadership.

A sensible way to mitigate this is to make sure that whilst the launch team are in place, the ultimate authority demonstrably rests with the site management and senior team members who have been employed to run the restaurant after they’ve gone. The ‘Launch Team’ are there to facilitate not to manage. Day to day queries should be addressed to and answered by them, and whilst the launch team offer guidance on the brand in a broad sense, managers should be careful not to be seen to defer to them on questions relating to the operational running of the business.

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