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Puttin’ On The Ritz

Puttin’ On The Ritz

Nordstrom is a company that does it right. And yet, this king of all service retailers is laying off 400 people – 140 of which are from their tech staff. Imagine what the headline would read if it weren’t Nordstrom. Oh, it would be this.

Despite the recent and sad news from one of my favorite retailers, service matters. Great service really matters. Do you know what else it does? Great service ultimately provides you free advertising in the form of word-of-mouth and recommendations. There’s no amount of money in the world (or your ad budget) that can replace the sheer chatter which comes from great service.

Case in point: Several days ago, I dined and entertained some guests at a Ritz Carlton restaurant in Rancho Mirage, CA called State Fare Bar and Kitchen. It was not the most expensive or elegant restaurant I have ever visited.   But, it is known for using the best local vendors, sustainable foods, yada yada. We were first seated outside (per my reservation request) which was very windy (as in 25 mph winds). The waitress (Andrea) noted this and asked if we prefer to sit inside. Of course, we did and so she hurried to move us. She then reviewed almost everything on the menu in enormous detail giving interesting facts about the food products. She provided a vast amount of information on each entrée; asked whether or not it was our first time there; asked about any special allergies we might have; made recommendations not based on the cost of the item, but based on what she thought we might love. I mentioned my love of cooking and baking in the course of conversation. Know what Andrea did? After we finished our dinner, she asked if we would all like to meet the chef and take a private tour of the kitchen and wine cellar. After this fabulous tour, she moved us outside (“because the winds died down and it was such a glorious evening under the stars”) and seated us around the fire pit for dessert. We could not have felt more special. And, by the way, it wasn’t just us. The couple seated next to us had 4 young children. Each received a surprise tiny stuffed animal. At the end of their dinner, the chef came out to take pictures with them! The mom immediately posted it on her Facebook page.

Let me tell you the “advertising” they have received from this encounter. All of us continue telling everyone we know about it. Now, we can include this article which is being read by many more. The review I posted on Open Table was “outstanding” with a special note about that particular waitress. I have personally told at least six people I know who have not been to this restaurant to make sure they go. I have booked a return visit at their other restaurant for a special event. And, I assume this chatter will continue on for quite some time.

Great service starts with empowering your people to do the unexpected. To do great things. Hire “Andreas” who get it. It starts with buying a few tiny stuffed animals to have on hand for your tiny guests who stop in with their parents (and don’t really want to be there). Take some of your guests to see your back area; meet your bench jeweler; see how things are made. Serve them a complimentary glass of fine wine; an elegant and decadent piece of chocolate. If you think the tiny bottle of water you can’t wait to hand out with your name on it is going to do the trick, you are sadly mistaken.

It doesn’t take a ritzy budget to be the Ritz. Want people to chat about you? You have to give them something to chat about. The State Fare Bar and Kitchen got their money’s worth.

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