poor customer service

Ugh. What is the magic formula to get employees to think outside the box? For example, we had a customer come in earlier today with a $5 budget to eat lunch. My employee tells him basically “we have nothing on our menu for less than $5” and let the customer walk out the door (I chased the man down lol). I sell slices for $2 and a combo for $3 - what the #%&@!*? They act more or less like robots. They never up-sell any add-ons or suggest nightly specials that could benefit the customer. I am starting to get complaints that my employees are rude on the phone. Advice?

Fire them all and do it yourself!

But seriously I have found that the biggest problem I have with my employees and poor customer service generally leads back to me. I have not trained them properly or not observed and corrected mistakes were made the FIRST time. I have learned is a properly trained employee is more likely to give great service because they know what to do in any given situation.

One thing I have my staff work on from the first day on the job is memorizing everything we offer to our customers. I test them on this every chance I get just to keep them on their toes.

It sure sucks when an employee has a bad attitude…Those that are marginal can often be “motivated” to perform better…So a reward program for reaching certain sales goals…When I was a waiter at a pizza place we had a draw for a nice mountain bike…We got entries for selling a certain number % add-ons each night…And the top performer got extra entries…

But sorry to say, most with a bad attitude can not “reformed” and must be cut loose…This type of employee drags your business down along with the moral of the rest of your staff and costs you sales…

Task vs Satisfy.

Our #1 job for all of us has nothing to do with the food we prepare or what we sell it for, but how we serve our guests.

Teaching your staff to take pride in the job they do may be as simple as some kind of incentive program to break them away from TASK and move them into SATISFY.

Do you have a mission statement? One that actually says what your goal is? If so then make sure you team is living the mission rather than completing tasks.

I can’t say my teams are any different than what you describe as it is hard to get everyone to get “it” 100% of the time but for those who do get “it” they get preferential treatment with the schedule, etc.

Thank you for the post as it has stimulated me to go bang the drum some more in my shops.

Dale, that was a perfect posting in every respect. If our employees don’t understand what the goal or mission is, they will just muddle through, put in their hours and probably reckon that they are at least a satisfactory member of the staff. It’s our job to make sure that everyone understands what it is that makes customers become committed customers. And those that just don’t give a damn must either learn the ways to satisfy customers or hit the bricks. The one good thing about high unemployment is that there are 4 more people out there looking to fill the vacancy.

One of my favorite quotes is from Lou Holtz, paraphrased as “People ask me how to motivate people. It’s easy; get rid of the people that aren’t motivated.”

Sounds like he’s being flip, but it’s true. There are self-motivated people, and there are people that aren’t. I’ve given up on believing I can take a mediocre or poor employee and make him into a great one by throwing some more money at him or giving him more pats on the back. I disagree with Royster on this point. An employee that doesn’t love competition and winning isn’t going to be motivated with a reward program. Get a group of employees that love to compete and win, however, and those reward programs will be incredible.

The types of employees that will come in and think “outside of the box” have it on the first day. They were born with it, and it was instilled in them by their environment. They thrive on a feeling of self accomplishment, and they have a whatever-it-takes attitude.

These people usually cost more, and your turnover will be faster. You can catch some great high school kids that are going to move away to college, and some great college students that are going to graduate or move onto another job closer to their desired field. It is what it is. The type of employee you’re looking for is generally not the same one that is looking to have a career working nights and weekends in a pizza shop.

If the thought of raising your labor rate is difficult (it sometimes is for me) consider it a marketing expense in your mind, because that’s what it is. Having service oriented, critical-thinking employees managing the interaction with your valued customers is the best marketing possible.

So to the original question of how to get employees to think outside of the box… the answer is to hire those types of people in the first place. When you know you’ve hired a lemon - and we know after the first two shifts - cut your losses and move on to the next one.

We do give bonuses when employees go over and above - like having 0% mistakes on the computer, coming in extra to work. We feed them for free on busy nights. Not sure if it’s the pool of people we have to hire from (poor demographics, high unemployment rates, crime, drugs, lack of education). An official incentive program is not something I want to take on right now. I already babysit 15 grown adults as it is. It’s a never ending battle.

Different people have different personalities. Some employees just aren’t good with their people skills. You should give the employee an opportunity in the kitchen cooking he/she might show an interest in that. If it looks like they still don’t have any interest then there’s not much you can do but let them go. I’ve had a few employees that I started off on the phones and they just couldn’t get with the program. I put them in the kitchen and they turned out to be great employees. Someone once told me that you need to keep your cheerleaders up front. The ones that love to talk and interact with other people are the ones you want on your phones and registers. Daddio is 100% correct about training. If you don’t spend at least the first week with the new employees dedicated to training they will start to pick up bad habits. Constant coaching needs to happen as well. Do not let anything go, if you see them doing something wrong let them know (right there and then in a nice manner) what they did wrong, what they should have done and why you want it done that way. Explain to them the importance. Don’t just say “this is how I want it done”

General Manager/Hopefully Future Pizza Shop Owner

Launch them!!
And tell them to not get butt prints on you door on the way out!

You just can’t fix stupid!
Did they get the idea that your business will not survive with them? Maybe remind them that everyone is replaceable

You are only as good as your employee’s, You spent countless hours and tons of money to build your business, do not let some idiot who is only there for a paycheck kill it for you.

If you haven’t already, May I also suggest you implement an employee standards handbook, and a “Non Disclosure” contract for them to read, understand, and sign upon hiring.