Turning service into sales

A couple of weeks ago I was in Denver for a seminar. I ate at The Texas Roadhouse Restaurant.

When I was escorted to my table (along with a basket of fresh hot rolls), the server welcomed me and asked if it was my first time there. I said yes. She thanked me for being there and told me they wereknown for their “fall-off-the-bone-ribs.” She promised to bring me a sample since it was my first visit. She took my dinner order (if they did not offer the cut of meat I wanted, they would cut it on the spot) and promptly brought me my soft drink.

A few minutes later, the manager came over and introduced himself. He, too, welcomed me and thanked me for being there. He asked if I was from Denver or in town for business. I told him that I was in town for business, from St. Louis and I had never heard of Texas Roadhouse. My salad arrived. He offered to check if there were any locations near my home. My steak arrived, and Iate it — one of the best I’ve ever had. Toward the end of my meal, the manage returned (as promised) with his business card and three St. Louis-area locations for their restaurant. I was impressed.

I called my wife that night, told her about the experience and suggested that we should have dinner the next weekend at a St. Louis Texas Roadhouse (which we did). Same great service and food. Great food and great servicemust be their culture.

In my seminar the next day, I mentioned my experience at this restaurant and two people in the group told me equally impressive stories.

I’ve thought about this a lot, since it’s what guys like me do. Two things stood out: First, they had enough staff to deliver great service (apparentlythey have not gotten the word yet to cut costs by cutting service levels). Second, they took a service experience and turned it into a salesopportunity. The manager made it easy for me to visit the St. Louis locations. That’s the benefit of great customer service — it gives you thecredibility and opportunity to sell more.

Did I mention that I was in town to do a customer service seminar?

Tom Reilly is the author of Customer Service Is More Than a Department: It’s An Attitude! Published by Motivation Press.

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