Its amazing how being stressed changes our personality and its usually for the worse, the sad thing is we can not avoid it while we are running a business and a hospitality business is up there with the best of them at giving you large doses of STRESS.
Having good restaurant management strategies with clear systems and procedures in place is certainly the best way of avoiding some of the day to day stress that our industry dishes up (excuse the pun) but lets talk about what happens when the stress is caused by some other things happening in your life or even just the fact that your business has gone quiet. Over the years I have experienced many stress causing problems both job related and personal, I cannot say whether one is worse than the other, all I know is they can have a very adverse effect on how you conduct your business.
The way I see it, when you are dealing with the public in an environment such as hospitality, it is a bit like being on stage but instead of the audience sitting in front of you clapping they are sitting in front of you eating and hopefully happy. You continue to rehearse your lines day after day and as you get more experienced you become more confident and that is when you will use your personality but there will always be a certain element of acting going on.
I remember some pretty tough personal times over the years and found it very hard sometimes to face the customers. I was reminded of it the other day when I visited a client. He had not been in his restaurant very long and things had not been going very well. The second day he was there they had a fire in the kitchen at lunch time, his restaurant was full and he had to ask them all to leave but on top of this his trade was not as good as he thought it would be. When we sat down and started to discuss a few things he told me he was incredibly stressed and that he was finding it very hard to function, as I looked into his face it reminded me of early days in businesses. I felt very sorry for him but knew it was a learning curve he would have to endure until we could work together and find some solutions to the pain.
One very important lesson I have learnt is that your customers will very quickly realise that you are stressed if you let them and this will definitely make them feel uneasy. This will inturn add to a bad experience for them which is what you do not want as your customers are far too precious for that. They come to your restaurant for a good experience. And good customer service in restaurants means providing a relaxed and efficient atmoshphere no matter what’s going on in your private life. There will be times as an owner/manager you will have staff with problems too and you will have to coach them about leaving their troubles at the door and putting on a smile.
So the answer to this is act and the more things are getting you down the more you will have to act, I know this is not easy but your customer does not really care about your problems they just want you bright and bubbly because as they say in the theatre THE SHOW MUST GO ON.