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Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Chef of tomorrow

I've just returned from a very entertaining evening with Chef Gary McDowell who was giving a 2-hour demo cook-in at The Chef Shop in Belfast. Cooking on a budget was the theme and Gary walked us through producing Instant Gelatine Free Cheesecake + Orange and Rosemary Semi Confit,Duck Byriani with Jal Frezi Sauce, Thai Chicken & Iceberg Parcels. The food (and wine!) tasted fantastic but what struck me was Gary's relaxed style of delivery and presentation with an ability to hold an audience. This got me thinking and wondering are more chefs now focusing on their PR skills? Is there more to being a Chef then back-of-house? Should the Chefs of tomorrow be trained in presentation/demonstration skills - how important is this to running a profitable kitchen/restaurant? A lot of questions, I know! Then, I'm not a chef! What do you think?

Reward me and I'll come back!

Welcome all to my first blog in 2011 I am kicking off with a subject that is close to me heart - customer reward. I am not necessarily talking here about financial reward (although invariably it is that special discount or bonus that we end up telling our friends, colleagues and family about). I perceive customer reward to be more like a 'bundle of benefits' that make you continue to use a service or buy a product in many cases without realising that you are being rewarded!

In an industry like hospitality and tourism industry where word-of-mouth PR is such a critical aspect of the marketing mix then surely if I feel valued as a regular customer I am going to naturally spread the word - evangelise about one of my favourite restaurants, pubs, travel agent, accommodation providers….

Traditionally in our industry the focus has been more on lead generation and lead conversion - getting the sale - as opposed to customer retention and rebooking. Consider the following:how do you feel when you walk in to your local pub, café, coffee shop, restaurant, shop, butcher, greengrocer, hairdresser, travel agent or beautician and the proprietor or other members of staff acknowledge you by your first name?How would you feel if they offered you a complimentary cup of coffee, a trial size bottle of the latest product, etc. You get the idea?Reward is not just guaranteeing me "the cheapest price in town!" - surely it is about adding value. So, the next time that are in a customer service situation evaluate your 'bundle of benefits' to establish how well you are rewarded for your business. For businesses consider how you can improve your customer value proposition.