Sunday, September 26, 2010

Math Test

I've been thinking a lot lately about the equation behind a great customer experience. What are the factors? Is one factor more powerful than the others? By that, I mean, can one factor overwhelmingly make up for a failure in another factor? Or scarier still, can one factor completely eclipse another factor?

The two most important factors that I’ve identified in the way customers relate to a dining experience are the meal itself (we’ll call this the product) and the service. In addition to these main factors, there are several other secondary factors that also play a role in determining the guests’ overall satisfaction with their experience. Things like ambiance, location, parking availability, wait time, etc. all have an effect on a diner’s attitude as well, but not to the extent as the main factors we discussed above.

                Great Product + Great Service = Customer Satisfaction - True or False?    _T_

                Product Issues + Great Service = Customer Satisfaction - True or False?    _T_

                Great Product + Service Issues = Customer Satisfaction - True or False?    _F_

To fit with our math metaphor, we’ll just assume that the “rules” I’ve outlined above are true. As with most rules (although not necessarily in math), there are certain exceptions.

Among the two main factors, product and service, is there a point at which a great product can make up for poor service? Conversely, can great service make-up for poor product? Personally, I think a restaurant has a far greater chance of redeeming itself with great service after an unfortunately mediocre product, than with a great product and bad service.  

As restaurateurs, we strive for perfection in our guests’ eyes. We want their experiences to be great. However, we all know that this is not always going to be the case.  While there are numerous options in the cities to be wowed with a great meal, the experiences I’ve had that stand out are the ones where the service was above and beyond. Even when the meal wasn’t as hoped, or if there are issues, the restaurant’s response is key.

Cultivate an environment that demands exceeding customer expectations. Emphasize positive resolutions and commitment to customer satisfaction when product issues arrive. Doing so will ensure that the legacy your property leaves in the customer’s mind is overwhelmingly positive. Can you afford to have it any other way?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

We Proudly Brew Caribou!

Did you know that Woolley's has a Coffee Bar that proudly brews Caribou coffee, creates specialty espresso drinks, and blends delicious smoothies?

With two proprietary parking spaces for Coffee Bar patrons only, the Coffee Bar is conveniently located just within the East entrance of the Embasssy Suites Minneapolis Airport.

Serving up your favorite mochas, lattes, and more, the Coffee Bar remains a convenient and delicious option for your morning pick-me-up needs.

Come say hi to Bridget, our morning barista, this week! She'll have a smile waiting and your drink of choice ready in no time!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Farmer' Market Fare (Revisited)

In honor of Chef Peter's second installment of his Farmer's Market Fare cooking classes, we have decided to share an easy recipe for you to try at home. As this recipe capitalizes on the fresh, local ingredients that are in abundance at your neighborhood farmer's market this time of year as well as the warm savory flavors we crave as the weather turns cooler, it was a perfect fit! Enjoy!

Slow-Baked Tomatoes with Fresh Herbs (borrowed from Better Homes & Gardens)

1 1/2 lbs. cherry or grape tomatoes
1/4 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
7 cloves garlic, peeled, split lengthwise, and green shoot removed
1 bunch fresh mint, trimmed
1 to 2 tsp. coarse or flake salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Toasted slices of rustic bread
Goat cheese (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Wash and drain tomatoes well. Pat dry with paper towels.
2. In a nonreactive (such as earthenware) 2-quart baking dish, place tomatoes in a single layer. Pout on olive oil so they are well coated and there is a thin layer (1/8 inch) of oil on bottom of dish. Toss in garlic, mint, salt, and pepper.
3. Bake, uncovered, for 45 to 60 minutes or until skins split and soften but tomatoes still retain their shape.
4. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Spoon or mash over slices of toasted bread and serve with goat cheese.

Perfect for enjoying with a glass of wine al fresco as the last bit of deck weather for the season draws to an end.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Patios, Patios, Patios

Rumor has it that our neighbor to the West, Mall of America, may be joining the trendy ranks of establishments that offer outdoor dining. Around the Twin Cities, patio options have been popping up faster than toast that's not quite done. 

Solera, W.A. Frost , Chambers and a plethora of others have capitalized on creating functional outdoor space (for those few months of the year, we Minnesotans enjoy dining outdoors). It all boils down to being as creative as you can with the space you have. Think transformation, because we all know that more space is often a dream, not a reality for most restaurants. 

Case in point, Woolley's has created functional outdoor space that works very well for weddings, hosting smaller cocktail receptions prior to meal service, private dinners, some of our cooking classes, etc. Before, it was just a grassy space on the side of the hotel that was used by smokers. Installing a nice brick patio, amenable landscaping and using some creativity, we now have a functional add-on for guest gatherings, (or additional space, when previously we had a full house). 

Whether or not the MOA will be able to pull off a rooftop terrace remains to be seen. True to form, MOA spokespeople are keeping mum over the details, but we would certainly applaud their efforts to capitalize on existing space!