Podcast 138: A Month in Italy: What I Learned About the Restaurant Business

When you travel, there’s a lot you can learn about your own industry – customers, service, menus and marketing. Make sure to keep your camera busy! Even if it’s just to another city, but in this case I went to Italy for a month – travelling in the area around Rome and to the south in the ‘boot’, then another week in the north visiting the big cities of Genoa and Milano.

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I’ve recorded my observations here, particularly food, service and restaurant operations – I was also interested to see how well I could operate my own business, Profitable Hospitality, from on the road. It’s fairly different to your venue, in that I’m not serving guests with food and drinks. But operating remotely with the aid of modern digital tools went very well, and I’ve explained how in the last section of the podcast. I’d love to hear your observations about travelling in Italy – the food, the service and ‘the business’. Click on the Comments link and add your thoughts…

I’ve put a wide selection of photos from the trip into several albums on Flickr – you can see them here.

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Podcast 137: 10 Less-Common Skills to Improve Customer Service

Great customer service needs more than just a friendly smile and product knowledge. There’s a bunch of other skills that service and front-line staff need if your business is going to be ahead of the competitors.

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In this podcast Ken Burgin outlines 10 skills that go beyond ‘the usual’ – some will be familiar and others maybe less so. As staff and managers improve their ability in these areas, there will be a significant improvement in service quality, positive feedback and sales.

Many more articles and resources for restaurant, hotel and bar customer service on the Profitable Hospitality website

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Podcast 136: How to Build a Community with your Customers

Guest, visitors, customers, pax – what do you call them? There are many benefits when you decide to go further, and work to make the people who enjoy your food and drink into a community – increased loyalty, increased spend, return visits and recommendations. Plus you’re likely to get more pleasure from the work you do in the business.

podcast80In this interview, Ken Burgin talks with Suzi Dafnis, CEO of the Australian Businesswomen’s Network, about how they’ve built a community from a diverse range of members, and how that experience can be applied to a cafe, restaurant, club or bar. First there needs to be a willingness to be ‘community minded’, ready to engage with visitors as real people. You’ll also be actively listening and responding to what they want, and taking a leadership role to build the community through better communication, events, and product improvement. There’s a very optimistic feel to this interview – so much is possible with small steps. I hope you enjoy it!

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Podcast 135: 10 Everyday Habits to Make You a Calmer Person

How do calm people achieve that state, and maintain it? They seem to be confident, relaxed and in control – frustrations and roadblocks are handled, and don’t cause upsets and drama. And why does the hospitality industry seem to be so addicted to stress?!

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In this interview, Ken Burgin interviews Jacqueline Stone, a counsellor and therapist. Her business Wise Stress Mastery is committed to helping people find relief from stress and lead happier, more productive lives. We look at the 10 everyday habits she suggests to help you be calmer and more effective, even when staff don’t turn up, the fridge breaks down or a large booking cancels!

Jacqueline was also interviewed in Podcast 49: How to Help Your Staff Give Up Smoking.

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Podcast 134: Using Influence Patterns to Boost Sales and Manage Staff

In business, your ability to influence the actions and beliefs of customers and staff is crucial. It’s also important not to be constantly influenced by others. So when we discuss the idea of influence, the most useful question is, “How, when, where, and why do we influence people?”

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In his famous book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini addresses the ‘how’ by providing the Six Principles underlying the process of influence and why they work. It’s what Ken Burgin discusses in this podcast, looking at how you can ethically influence customers to spend, recommend and return. Plus how to influence staff to be reliable, productive and engaged in their work. Cialdini’s ideas are easy to understand and very powerful.

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Podcast 133: The Power Stories Every Restaurant & Bar Must Tell

Everyone loves to hear a story, and traditionally they have a beginning, middle and end. They may tell us about success, adventure, lessons learned, happy times, difficulties faced, challenges overcome, and moving onto the next stage. There are many stories you can tell about your business, and some of them will be a powerful part of your marketing and influence.

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In this interview Ken Burgin talks with Valerie Khoo of the Australian Writers Centre, about the 8 ‘Power Stories’ that she believes every business can and should tell. You don’t have to be a professional writer to tell stories, just draw on your experience and share the details. Stories are useful for a variety of audiences – your customers, the media, your staff, your bank and even to convince yourself of the value of what you do. Make sure to also check Valerie’s book Power Stories: The 8 Stories You Must Tell to Build an Epic Business

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Podcast 132: Keeping Up with Industry Information & Getting Things Done

Coping with the flood of industry information is a constant challenge – food & beverage trends, government regulations, staff requirements – it never stops!

podcast80In this podcast Ken Burgin talks about the tools and techniques he uses to stay up to date, save important information and share it with his team and Profitable Hospitality members.

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Yes, you can even work from the Amalfi Coast in Italy if you have WiFi…

Podcast 131: What Tourists Want from Wineries and Restaurants

Tourists are hungry and thirsty, just like our other visitors, and they also have extra needs and desires. By adding to their experience they will spend more time and money, come back for a second visit, and tell their friends using photos and social media.

headphonesRed80In this interview Ken Burgin talks to Robyn Lewis of VisitVineyards.com – a leading directory of food, wine, wineries and vineyards. As well as hosting a huge list of destinations and experiences, she shares about industry marketing trends and runs industry surveys to find out what customers and operators are really doing. This interview will be a rich source of information for restaurants, cafes, hotels, bars, wineries and tourism operators.

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Podcast 130: Social Media, Food Trucks and Icecream

Food trucks are at the cutting edge of food innovation and social media marketing. Competition is fierce and there are low barriers to entry; consumers expect fast service and great flavours. The US leads the way with mobile food development, and there’s always value in a trip to the east or west coast to check developments.

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In this interview Ken Burgin talks to Scott Kilmartin of Short Batch Icecream Company and the Online Store Guys. He’s just back from a trip to the annual Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego, and he also visited San Francisco and Los Angeles to see icecream shops and food trucks – he has a lot to tell us!

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Podcast 129: Understanding and Using Mystery Shopper Surveys

Social media gives feedback in a random way, but how much better if you could find out in detail what customers experience – the food and beverage, the welcome, the service and departure. Even the toilets! Customers compare your place with others they visit – an objective view is so valuable.

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In this interview Ken Burgin talks with Jen Wells of Above Benchmark. Her company runs mystery shopping and customer satisfaction surveys in all areas of hospitality. You may have tried your own feedback forms – what’s clear from this interview is how much is involved in getting useful, measurable information, that can be compared from one month to the next. Information that gives constructive feedback to managers and staff, leading to improvements that bring customers back more often and telling their friends. Listen in and learn how professionals design surveys and gather the most useful feedback.

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