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Don’t Quarantine Your Brand

Is it time to restart your quality assurance program?  We get it—times are tough.  You’ve likely put non-essential services on pause.  But as we near the sixth month in the “new normal” brands are recognizing that their brand can’t live in a bubble.  Top brands know that they cannot operate in a vacuum–external feedback is essential.

Answering these four questions may help you determine if you should restart your quality assurance or mystery shopping program.

  1. Do you still believe in your brand promise? Are you actively marketing?
    As municipalities lift restrictions on businesses, operators face a difficult decision about deploying capital to customer acquisition (sales and marketing). An understanding about what your brand says to customers Pre-Covid and what they are thinking now is crucial.

Operators who decide to market and advertise should be thinking brand, brand, brand, thinking long-term and base it on evergreen principles. Customer acquisition strategies via advertising are subject to being instantly sideswiped and undercut by the evolving customer perceptions.  Incentives like discounting and lowering prices may do more harm long-term than good.

  1. Has your company reduced staff and/or re-allocated staff with new responsibilities?
    Staff cuts beget changes in how services are delivered, everyone gets that. The staff that remained are wearing more hats. Your SOPs and operating standards need to be recalibrated to reflect that. Restaurant-goers in particular want less staff at the table. One server is now taking on runner, busser and even hosting duties. In the new workplace environment, it is vital that staff know their duties to the standard and that it is measured.

Clients also tell us more and more that they need to be supervising the operation 24/7.  Getting customer feedback and measuring compliance to SOPs is crucial all times of the day.

  1. Have you introduced new cleanliness standards? Mandated PPE usage?
    Clients tell us that the biggest challenge with cleanliness and PPE is the staff behavior. Masks aren’t worn all the time, don’t fit well or fall below the nose. Though fully intentioned, front-of-house staff still forget some of the little things they are supposed to be showing guests they are doing.  Consistent training and reinforcement is essential to make sure one or two staff members don’t blow it for everyone., especially when you are not there.
  2. Have you adapted new ways for customers to use your business? e.g. curbside pick-up, outdoor dining, etc.
    Brands have had to make severe pivots to merely stay alive and long-term this affects perception. Guests are interacting with your brand in new ways and they have new expectations, that are ever-changing.  What is your addressable market saying about the new you? A little bit of carefully collected customer data can be crucial.

If quality assurance was a “nice to have” pre-Covid, it may be an essential tool to keep your business viable in today’s ever changing environment.

© 2020 Coyle Hospitality Group. Reproduction of any material without written authorization is strictly prohibited.

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