Getting to 9 and 10: How Super-Great Trumps Good

Let’s say guests go to your restaurant where everything comes off glowing. The food’s delicious, the atmosphere stylish, the service warm and seamless. So, on a scale of 1 to 10, how would patrons rate you? A 10? Hardly. You’d likely score an 8. Why? Because being brilliant at the basics is simply the price of entry. Scoring a 10 is reserved only for over-the-top, wildly wow, memorable experiences.

Consider how greats like Ritz-Carlton, Hilton, Nordstrom, and Disney count only top scores. What guests consider good, the 7s and 8s, don’t even count. Why? Because anything below a 9 or 10 creates a zero intent to return. It’s like seeing a movie at the multiplex that was good, but you wished you’d waited for it on Netflix.

How do you deliver knock-your-socks-off service? While conducting a workshop I call “Getting to 9 and 10” at the JW Marriott in New Orleans, we uncovered a wealth of wow.

Eavesdrop with the intent to help. In-room dining server Kendra Brown overheard a guest request a bottle of Dom Perignon for proposing to his girlfriend. Kendra leapt into action. She went to the first-floor florist and got roses. Using rose petals, she wrote “Will you marry me?” on the bed while setting up a gorgeous Dom station with chocolate-covered strawberries. Think the bride and groom have returned?

Get creative. On the steamy night of the Prince Purple Essence Concert at the Superdome there was a major taxi shortage. Bellman Alfred Carter was beside himself trying to hail taxis for scores of panicked guests thinking they’d miss the party. His teammate Paul pointed out a school bus passing by. Alfred then called his brother-in-law to drive over in his school bus, filled it to the brim, and gave everyone a bottled water to boot. Alfred receives mucho comments on TripAdvisor.

Surprise and delight. When George Faccenda discovered a couple at his bar about to celebrate their 10th anniversary, he recommended a classic New Orleans eatery, made their reservation, and asked the couple to stop back for a nightcap. Upon their return, he had secretly arranged for a bottle of bubbly and roses to be delivered to their room with a hand-written note.

Go a step beyond. Raymond Bush from security answered a call from a guest who’d fallen on the pool deck and injured her head. Against the guest’s protests, Raymond called an ambulance, rode with her to Tulane Hospital, and got the triage nurse to put her at the front of the line. He stayed until he got the “all’s OK,” then offered the guest his cell number.

Remember the Plus-1 Concept. Whether you’re a hospitality icon like Danny Meyer calling a guest to tell them you won’t be around to greet them personally but thanking them for their business, or a server who Instagrams a millennial a happy graduation note, think of the Plus-1 Concept: Always deliver brilliant at-the-basics service—then take it a step beyond.

Whether you run a bar, fast food, or fine dining restaurant, or, any business, “Getting to 9 and 10” ensures loyalty and a profitable, creative, and meaningful experience for your team and guests.

About the Author

Bob Brown, president of Bob Brown Service Solutions,, pioneered Marriott’s Service Excellence Program. He has worked with clients such as Disney, Hilton, Morton’s of Chicago, Nordstrom, Olive Garden, and Ritz Carlton and works internationally with the prestigious Burj Al Arab in Dubai. He has appeared on the Food Network and is author of the bestselling The Little Brown Book of Restaurant Success, selling over 100,000 copies worldwide. Contact Bob for keynotes, workshops, breakouts, and executive retreats at 571-246-2944 ©Bob Brown Service Solutions 2016.

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