All Staff: As soon as you become aware of a guest whose satisfaction is “at risk,” no matter how trivial it seems, inform the Manager on Duty. This is called an “At Risk Report,” or “ARR.”

Here is how it works:

Any staff member can get the undivided attention of the MOD by saying “Arrrr” followed immediately by a table number and seat position, and then the issue: “Arrrr. Table 17 north. The guest found a piece of wood in her salad.” or “Table 44, I don’t think they like their wine.” or in the kitchen, ”Uh, Table 9 is At Risk even though they don’t know it yet. We dropped the slip for their entrees. It’s in the oven now, but it’ll be late – ten, maybe twelve minutes behind.”

The MOD will then form a task force, teaming with the server and perhaps others, to do everything humanly possible to satisfy that guest before he or she leaves our premises. I’d entertain Table 9 until their late entrees get run out to them, and make sure everything is just right. They’ll remember the way we handled the situation and took care of them more than they will the delay, if we do our jobs. The MOD can apologize, expedite or replace part of meal, provide extra attention or service, adjust a check, etc.

The MOD also logs every At Risk Report so in the next Managers or Continuous Improvement Team meeting, policy can be discussed and new procedures invented to PREVENT recurrence of problems.

In order for your staff to learn never to hide mistakes, they must trust that making At Risk Reports will result in a focus on recovering guest satisfaction, not reprimand.  It is important that one of the goals of the MOD’s intervention at the table is to protect the server’s tip. This is how trust gets built and Guests At Risk get reported.

At pre-meal meetings, I have made this speech countless times:

“Ok folks, my job tonight is to see to it that every guest who crosses our threshold leaves here really satisfied, intending to return. Do your best to thrill them. Help each other. And remember, the ONLY thing you can do that will piss me off is to know about a Guest At Risk and not immediately alert me.”

Fast, effective response to unhappy guests is crucial to our success. Can you see how, if complaints are handled quickly and well, the guests remember not what went wrong, but how important it was to us that they were satisfied? In other words, we turn the mishap into a memorable conveyance of respect. We simply cannot afford to have a guest take a mishap as an affront.  Make “At Risk Reports” and make them promptly!