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Hospitality is many different things to many different people. It is devoting the time to take someone’s jacket or pull out someone’s chair. It is asking Mrs. Jones how her child did at soccer camp and wishing Mr. Smith best of luck on his fishing trip. It is caring. It is knowing the names of your customers and ordering an extra dollop of ice cream for Billy because you know he loves it. Hospitality is enjoying people just because. Hospitality is enjoying life and the place you work and having a genuine desire to share. In short, hospitality is about relationships.

The business world has a great concept called relationship marketing, which is the idea that employees build a personal and lasting relationship with customers. Relationship marketing has very little to do with any actual marketing and more to do with building a relationship with your customer. In time, those customers become a great marketing tool for you and your business through the use of word of mouth advertising. (You’ll also be able to count on the relationship.) In the restaurant business, relationship marketing works. Customers who enjoy the atmosphere of your restaurant will keep coming back and will bring their friends and family with them.

You can personalize the concept of relationship marketing within your restaurant by building concepts and training materials that are more unique to you and your team. For example, my teams use a concept called “connecting with thy customer.” This catchphrase is easier for staffs to understand and helps my teams focus on what their role is. “Connect with thy customer” has become one of my team’s restaurant commandments and cultural distinctions and has made a long-lasting positive impact on sales.

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