Blog Archives

STK Restaurant Focuses on the Customer

Cosmopolitan_LogoA few weeks ago, I was in Las Vega, NV for a conference.  One night a colleague and I at the STK restaurant in the new Cosmopolitan Casino.  The food was phenomenal.  Just an incredible meal.

The meal is not the reason for writing about the restaurant though.  The service is excellent also.  But, the service wasn’t your traditional restaurant service.  It was choreographed to be efficient and provide the customer with incredible service.

Typical restaurant service, no matter how nice the restaurant, is to have one waitress/waiter and maybe someone different bring out your food.

Not at STK.  We had 2 waitresses and at least 3 servers.  That is a total of five people servicing us and the area we sat in.

There was NEVER any confusion about what was going on at our table and we were never asked the same questions twice.  In fact, everything ran so smoothly that we were almost done with our meal when I asked my colleague if she noticed the five different people serving us.

At one point, one waitress came up to our table and asked, “I know (waitress’ name) is getting you more drinks.  Is there anything else I can get you right now?”  They had communicated enough to know what one was doing for our table so as not to repeat it.  Keep in mind, they are doing this for a section of the restaurant.  Not just us.

As we finished our appetizer and had five minutes to chat, a server came over and asked if we were ready for our main course.  He did not ask if we were done with the appetizer.  He specifically asked if we were ready for our main course.  His focus was on what we, as the customer, wanted.  We replied, “yes.”  The server removed our appetizer plates and utensils.  Within 60 seconds, a second server was at our table setting the utensils for the main course.  Within 2 minutes of him leaving a third server brought our food out.  In 3 minutes our table was cleared, reset and food brought to us by 3 different people.

These are just a couple of examples of how the restaurant focused on the customer and serving their needs in a very efficient way.

The process guy in me asked the waitress at the end how they do it.  She said they have a plan and understand how long it takes for the food to be prepared.  They have a wall where the drink station is and communicate on an ongoing basis throughout the night where no one can see so it is seamless to the customer.

This was a great of example of Lean’s #1 focus…delivering value to the customer.  The seamless effort and great service along with the great food made it an incredible experience.

Small Change vs. Large Change

Small change vs. Large change is a debate I hear quite often within the Lean community.

The meaning of kaizen is to continuously make change for the better.  Implied is to make small changes everyday and over time it will add up.  Paul Akers at FastCap often talks about the 2 second kaizen.

Every improvement counts.  This is small change.

The flip side of the discussion is large change.  Transform the work into something new.  Redesign the process, the layout, the flow.  Act in a completely different way.

My opinion…they are both right and you should do both.  The key is understanding what your organization needs and when.

If it is a traditional batch and queue organization (manufacturing or service), then as you start your lean transformation I would recommend large change.  Create a pull system where the parts or service flow uninterrupted.  Dramatically change the way you operate.

Once the large change is done, the improvement never stops.  This is when you start looking for the 2 second improvements in the process.  Everyday the process should be better.  Keep making small changes.

This isn’t the only way to go about a lean transformation.  It is just one way.  If you want to be successful with your lean transformation take the time to really consider your strategy for going about the transformation.

All in all, some improvement is ALWAYS better than no improvement…small or large.

Guest Post: The Importance of a Quality Management System

Today’s post comes from Alice Rose.  Alice is a freelance copywriter working for QMS International plc, a business certification company specializing in ISO 9001 http://www.qmsuk.com/iso-9001.php.

As the recession hit many businesses began to think of the best ways to cope and short-term solutions such as cutting staffing levels and reducing marketing costs were some of the most popular. But, as time has progressed and consumers are still being very cautious with their spending, I want to touch on some other ways that you can try and beat the big squeeze.

What is a quality management system?

A Quality Management system is the processes, procedures, organizational structure and resources that come together to ensure that a business provides a consistent and reliable service. It emphasizes different principles within a business such as leadership, continual improvement, staff involvement and different approaches to decision making.

It’s all about the consumer

The first thing to remember is that if you provide a great product or a brilliant service to the consumer then they are going to keep coming back. One way to check that your company is running a high quality business is to put a quality management system into place. Quality management systems often incorporate a ‘customer service’ element to them, ensuring that there are procedures in place so customers can record a complaint which means that issues can be addressed and reduced in the future.

Manufacturing industry

If you are manufacturing a product there are certain steps that you can take to ensure that the final product will arrive with the consumer in a high quality state. This can start at the beginning of the production chain, in the factory for example. Simple tasks such as ensuring your workplace is clean will lead to the creation of a better final product. As the product progresses along the chain if simple manufacturing tasks are conducted in a more streamlined fashion the consumer is more likely to receive a high quality product – which will also lead to less waste on your part, reducing costs.

Service industry

The services industry is not immune to the economic downturn and there are simple changes that your company can take to ensure that the customers are still happy. One of the simplest ways to find out if you are providing a good service is by encouraging customer feedback – if you know where you are falling down it’s easier to pick yourself back up.

Setting an example

It is important that quality management systems are considered as a priority by business management who have the facility and knowledge to implement these systems and who, leading by example, will encourage greater productivity and performance across the board as well as locating new areas of the business for growth.

J.C. Hall Put Service and Quality First

If a man goes into business with only the idea of making a lot of money, chances are he won’t .

But if he puts service and quality first, the money will take care of itself.

Producing a first-class product that fills a real need is a much stronger motivation for success than getting rich.

— J.C. Hall

This is a quote from J.C. Hall, founder of Hallmark Cards.  J.C. showed up to Kansas City with a shoebox full of postcards in 1910.  He had a desire to help people connect with one another.  That is still the case today.  Hallmark Cards is now run by his grandsons, Don Hall, Jr. and Dave Hall.  The Halls still believe in service and quality first and connecting people in an emotional way everyday.

The quote from J.C., in my opinion, shows the heart of lean.  Do what is right.  Build a quality product that people want and give great service.  The money will come.  It is a by-product of doing what is right.  This is what I take from Toyota when they talk about do whats right and fix the process.  The profit will come.

A good example of fixating on making money is most venture capitalist.  It is only about the money.  They don’t care about the people or the process.

I hope more companies are seeing the value of service and quality in the new economic climate.  Right now is the time that a company can distinguish itself through superior service and quality.

Full Disclosure: I work for Hallmark Cards.  It is a great company and the Halls are phenomenal people.  This quote hits home more because of me working for Hallmark, but I find relevant for any business.