Everyone has heard the age-old adage that the bottom line of any business is directly related to its frontline – the company’s employees. Actually, when it comes to a customer’s perspective of a hospitality company, the employees are the business. How often do customers come in contact with organizations’s executives?
Therefore, frontline employees are definitely the face of every hospitality business. However, do hospitality management leaders consistently perform with this philosophy in mind? If a true and stark assessment is actually conducted the answer is a resounding “no.”
The frontline employees are the doers. In a restaurant setting these are the servers, bussers, bartenders, hosts and hostesses who should be the most important people within that company. The concept is easy to grasp intellectually, but the reality is sometimes overlooked. These are, typically, the lowest wage earners in the organization and more than usually are thought of as expendable but remain the most important employees from a customer’s perspective.
The reality paints the picture that even if this frontline fails to measure up to their respective duties, it makes no difference how smart and educated the senior vice president for operations actually might be. The relationship between the customer and the company is reflected in what transpires between the frontline employee and the paying patron. The type of relationship is dependent upon how that employee does his or her job. This is true throughout the hospitality industry despite the setting – restaurants, hotels, bars or any other venue where frontline employees are entrusted with the care of a customer’s needs.
When an executive calls in sick there is no great ripple in the daily operation of the company. However, if a bartender and a server are no shows for a particular shift, something is surely going to happen to the level of customer service. Furthermore, that level of customer service is always productive when these frontline employees perform duties with enthusiasm and pride. However, if they are untrained, unenthusiastic or just outright bored, no amount of upper level brilliant executive management will help the real world situation.
The frontline employees should be treated like the star players on a ball team. They should always be honored for their high level of work performance. They need to be recognized. No corporate strategy and goal-making will amount to much without the proper execution of those plans which falls to a company’s frontline employees. It is s simple equation: the customer is either satisfied or is not. The frontline employee is held responsible by the customer for the entire experience – even down to how far from the door they had to park. And, unlike tip level executives referring to charts and reports, frontline employees do not need statistical computer printouts to know what’s going on since they live what’s going on. They are the team members doing the scoring so they know how the game is shaping up at all times.
What is missing today when it comes to executive operations is the actually knowing of what is going on at the frontline level in real time. Although intellectually an executive hospitality manager knows the importance of frontline operations, experiencing this or recognizing its importance becomes secondary at best. If it was an important aspect of management knowledge then you as a manger would be throwing employee pizza parties on a regular basis, always calling around to find a place to pitch in when business starts getting busier and performing that mist important of executive functions – talking to frontline employees on a regular basis soliciting their input on how things can be improved. Plus, remember those times in your life when someone offered you a sincere “thank you.” Do you remember how appreciative you were for the simple recognition?
When was the last time you displayed such a level of appreciation toward a frontline employee or group of employees?