Canadian Pizza Magazine

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from the editor’s desk: March of shows


April 4, 2011
By Laura Aiken


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March is a march of food shows. With the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas and the CRFA show in Toronto falling back to back each year (and sometimes overlapping), we do our share of soaking up all there is to learn at these two important industry events in two fabulous cities. And here at Canadian Pizza magazine, we love getting out to events. It’s always a great opportunity to share face time with you, our valuable readers.

March is a march of food shows. With the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas and the CRFA show in Toronto falling back to back each year (and sometimes overlapping), we do our share of soaking up all there is to learn at these two important industry events in two fabulous cities. And here at Canadian Pizza magazine, we love getting out to events. It’s always a great opportunity to share face time with you, our valuable readers.

In a world that feels increasingly digitized, personal networking feels priceless. The restaurant business is a people business, and the energy that pizza makers bring to a trade show is evidence of their passion for talking to people, which is equal to their passion for crafting your pizza. This natural enthusiasm translates into a customer service that is genuine. We all know sourpusses are a poor fit for a pizzeria.

There have been many articles and books written on the subject of customer service. It seems the trickiest part is determining how to train your staff to share in and then impart your excitement for your product and your company. After that, it’s seamless execution of that enthusiastic and genuinely caring service from the first encounter to saying goodbye. If you think of your own experience with eating out, you’ll probably recall times the restaurant staff made real blunders. For example, recently I was out for a nice dinner. I was instantly impressed with our well-trained server. She knew the dishes front to back and had a real spark in her eyes when talking about the menu and assisting with wine selections. I thought to myself, “Now this is how you sell food.” We ordered sparkling water instead of flat, and over the course of the meal I was surprised at how diligent the bussers were in filling our glasses up, even with only a few sips gone. I drank so much water I actually declined to order more wine, and because the bottle of sparkling water we ordered wasn’t on the table, I didn’t really think about how much was being poured. No one realized they poured $40 worth of fizzy water until the bill came. Not a catastrophe, but it was commented after the meal that this was definitely poor etiquette. After a bottle or two, I think most customers would like to be asked if they would like to order more rather than accept such speedy and automatic refilling of an item they are being charged for. This shady manoeuvre left a little bad taste in everyone’s mouth after what was otherwise a great meal with near impeccable service (the bill also arrived rather tardy and had to be asked for twice).

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This incident sticks out in my mind only because these gaffes were made by an employee who also did so many things right and had an excitement that got you jazzed up about the food. I guess the moral of this meandering tale is that a passion for food makes a memorable meal, but one hopes it does not come at the peril of basic good service in a restaurant’s quest to sell the food. I see the other side often as well – perfectly executed, but lifeless, service. In the case of this recent dining experience, the server’s attitude made up for the mistakes and this was neither my first nor likely will be my last visit to this establishment. However, in the future I will be inclined to order the city punch over the carbonated variety.

Taking care of customers well is truly an art form, and a difficult one at that. Like the fired-up passion we saw so much of during March’s march of shows, it’s the genuine desire to take care of people that, coupled with your great food, keeps them coming back.


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