Making your team your USP

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Making your team your USP

Making your team your USP

HGEM’s Founding Director, Sally Whelan discusses the importance of making your team your USP and the benefits that can be seen for doing so.

Experience. We all must hear it mentioned at least once a day (a lot more in our office) as operators look for new and inventive ways to stand out in a fiercely competitive market. From interactive cocktails, to surprise menus and naked dining, we are seeing more and more experiential offerings being favoured by consumers, with Barclaycard revealing that over half would prefer to pay for a good experience than splash out on material possessions such as clothes and shoes.

Whilst I don’t see the experiential lifestyle trend slowing down any time soon, an ‘experience’ can be defined in many ways and there are still thousands of operators that need to ensure their offering is one that consumers will remember, without the tools and fancy gadgets that many are turning to. This is where the in-house team can play the biggest part.

An operator’s team is its biggest brand ambassador to help them stand out from the competition; forget about social media influencers, the service provided by front and back of house can make or break a loyal customer relationship. Why should a customer stick around when the restaurant next door offers prompt service with a smile? It plays a bigger part than you may think in getting customers back through the door.

The real trick is ensuring your staff are in a position to provide this. Making your team your USP is not only the key to running a successful business, but also fosters a culture for top calibre staff to stick around. Whilst our industry may not be the easiest to recruit for – a report by the Institute of Hospitality found nine out of ten UK restaurateurs agree recruiting new staff is a struggle, especially in the wake of Brexit – doing what we can to keep our staff happy within their role is the first and most important step in improving business as a whole.

If we want our teams to stand out, we must give them the tools to do so.

Involve your team in company decisions

The team on the ground know more about the day to day workings than most; they hear customer complaints, analyse busy periods and see the customers first-hand. Their knowledge is priceless and it should be harnessed.

Right from the induction stage, creating an inclusive atmosphere helps employees feel like part of the family. Including staff in decisions such as new dishes on menus, site re-brands and other operational changes not only provides valuable insight, but it gives them a sense of responsibility for the success of their brand, leading to higher employee engagement. They want to see their company do well because they had a part to play in the decision process.

Offer employees more than just a job

The management analytics gurus at Gallup found that 87% of millennial workers find professional development or career growth opportunities extremely important and the hospitality industry should take note. Whilst I wasn’t fortunate enough to attend the Restaurant, Marketer and Innovator conference myself, a few members of the HGEM team were there across the two days and I heard brilliant things. In particular, Giles Denning, Brand Manager at Be At One, discussing the key to recruiting for the hospitality industry as promising employees a career rather than a job. Not only does this encourage team members to stay within the business, it also ensures a company understands its values and positioning inside out.

Promote a winning culture

No one wants to work somewhere where the atmosphere is flat and they feel devalued. Promoting a winning culture helps to motivate staff and get the best from them. Another piece of feedback I heard from the conference was about how CDG promotes the use of Facebook Workplace for its staff, sharing news, praise and ideas. This particular leadership style allows team members to flourish and encourages them to do well. If you offer a winning internal culture, this will shine through in the service your customers receive.

Making your team your USP is about hero-ing them as individuals. Customer service may be traditional, but even in an ever-changing industry, tradition still has an important role to play.

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