We are not in the 90s anymore – This is Modern Hospitality!

I’m no stranger to the hospitality industry. Having accrued two decades of experience across several venues. To receive a message in late summer 2021 asking if I knew  “anyone who might be interested in a general manager role for a new Italian food venue” was not an unusual occurrence.

It was only when my partner, Martin, suggested “why aren’t you applying for this” that I had that lightbulb moment. I had totally missed the subtle hint that they actually wanted me. With curiosity I applied, had an interview with Zeno, the Operations Director and once he explained the plans for the business I was totally on board. I could not wait to start!

Punto Italian Kitchen is a fantastic independent family owned hospitality business. We are here to give the North East a taste of modern Italian cuisine and the experience of Mediterranean hospitality.

This modern experience of hospitality is key. We are not in the 90s anymore. Robotic customer service is a thing of the past, and as far as I am concerned, it can stay there! People see right through it.

You have to move with the times and the way to deliver a genuinely great experience is to personalise it. Yes, we have a brand, and certain things that we do to make sure you know you’re at Punto Italian Kitchen. The front of house team will always welcome you by saying ‘Buon giorno, welcome to punto’, when feeling brave they may even say ‘Benvenuti da Punto’, but it is also personalised.

For example, Lydia always says “Buon giorno my lovelies”. It is on brand but it is also unequivocally Lydia. This is encouraged.

Punto is all about customer experience. From the moment you walk through the door to the moment you leave. And our ‘cameriere’ (Italian waiter) training is built around this. One of the first things we ask them to do is wait at the front door. There is no eye contact and they are ignored.

We ask how long they thought they were standing and the reply is always one to two minutes. The reality is actually 25 seconds. The result, none of our customers wait at the front door without attention. Not only that, it highlights how important our guests are from the very start of the experience. Which has already begun when they walk through the door.

There are many other elements. When asked for a recommendation, don’t lie. Only recommend things you have tried and actually like. Keep it honest and sincere. Call guests by their first names, keep it personal. Always speak positively about everything.

We look after our team. Nurturing their skills and maintaining wellbeing. We carry out one on one development and make time for them every day. We give monthly incentives. These also happen to be experience based so the team get a real treat in exchange for their dedication.

Even small things are critical, like letting the team pick anything off the menu for their free on-shift meal. We buy sweets, doughnuts to perk everyone up on a busy weekend, give out gold medals and have ‘awards nights’.

I believe we should do whatever we can to support and keep the team engaged, always striving to deliver the best service they can and reward them as the superstars they are. They deliver the experience we have designed and keep customers coming back. After all, the best advert we can have is a loyal customer telling everyone how amazing our business is.

 

Andrew Adams – General Manager

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