A recent survey of restaurant customers in the USA by Restaurant DemandTracker found that diners often return to the restaurant where they feel employees are treated well. This was more important than how “green” the chain was or how much they donated back to the community. It has been confirmed empircally by many studies that the overall customer experience in a restaurant is closely tied to visit frequency and brand perception. If employees are treated poorly by management it will clearly show up in their overall demeanor and attitude toward the guests.
Visit coffee shops in the region and you are always struck by the customer service level and positive attitudes of the Starbucks staff. They are proud to work at the chain and it shows through by how they take care of the guests. This did not just happen by accident. Starbucks invests heavily in recruitment and training and has some of the best benefits in the industry. Maxims Group in Hong Kong is another example of well operated stores with friendly employees and positive attitudes.
If management just views labor cost as an expense item on the financial statement, the attitude will be reflected at the store level with poor customer service. In China, it is common for management to deduct wages from servers or kitchen staff for mistakes resulting in missed or late orders as well as failing to pay overtime wages according to the law. Poor customer service and bad employee attitudes naturally follow.
This is an area where many Asian chains need focus if they are to grow and have sufficient staff at the store level to support the growth. Treat employees well and they in turn will treat the customers well. An old cliché’ but true!