Taking service to a whole other level

Don’t you just love it when high expectations are completely smashed - in the super-raddest of ways?

On Saturday night Alison and I had dinner with the uber-cool Jason Fox and his wife Kim in the heart of Melbourne*. Jason and Kim are - like um - walking picture postcards of Melbourne. They dress smart, live smart, and even talk smart. They are kid-free, have just adopted a cat, live in a funky inner-city apartment and have expensive but very, very good taste in design and craft. The kind of folks you’d see in an ad in a funky hipster magazine**

But alas! As Melbourne-ised as these two are, they’d never eaten at the fabulous Melbourne dining institution that is Grossi. Real Melbourne peeps? Puh-leese.

Yet we had! Yar! The tables had been turned. Actually that’s a pretty poor metaphor given we’re talking about a restaurant. Anyways...

For weeks we’d talked about Going to Grossi and on Saturday night we treated ourselves to something quite splendid. In fact it was simply out of this world. A truly world-class, show-stopping dining experience.

So what made it so damn good? I mean, we already had set a very high bar, but the Grossi experience went well beyond our expectations...and there’s something to learn in this from a service and culture standpoint.

But before we go there, I want to just let you know why the game has changed and why this stuff matters. I know, I know, you’re probably sitting at your desk, piled up with paper, eating a $7.50 burrito from the dodgy take-away down the street, going “Yeah, good for you and your posh eating! Whadda ‘bout me and my real world here Mr Snoopdy-doop?” 

Why it matters

In the ‘ole days, manufacturing was king. 80% of the labour force (see right there? they still even call it labour) was about making and building stuff. Lots of factory lines and farms. But then industrialisation started to shift the way we worked and were employed. 

We had new industries like marketing, communication, and a whole raft of vocations began to be created in the service industry. Y’see service used to just be hospitality, but now it extended much, much further.

Then the factories got smarter and decided that better machines and robots didn’t need to be paid and never complained, so what would take many-people-much-time, now took very-few-less-time.

Then the interwebby came in and changed everything. There’s bucket-loads of people out there creating stuff; employed to create stuff...but much of it’s intangible. A web page us a printed page. An online consult vs a waiting room. It’s all changing.

And the biggest change? We’re pretty much all in the service game now.

100 years ago, it was about 80% manufacturing versus 20% in the service industry but those figures have reversed. Boom. So you’re in the service game, it’s a given. Yet you’re possibly still playing a manufacturing-style approach. Let’s face it, many organisations still do. Efficiencies, margins, time, cost...they’re all calling cards of a manufacturing past. If you’re in service; innovation, care, passion...they’re what people come back for.

How Grossi nailed it

So you might think the food was amazing right? And you’d be right. But we had high expectations, and it met those. The food is manufacturing. Brilliant, art-making food production, but it’s still at its heart manufacturing. But just to focus on food would ignore all that smart stuff I’ve just ranted about - 80% of the game is now about service...

So Grossi take a bow for;

  • Seamless teamwork - we were served by a well oiled*** team of 5 people. They all had roles, but were joined by a common purpose, to make our dining experience a phenomenal one. It was the most elegant dance amongst staff we had witnessed in a culinary setting. 
  • Obvious passion - they loved those wines. They were proud of that food. One of the wait staff carried a buffalo mozzarella around like it was a newborn baby. Now I am sure that those staff have their good and bad days in their life, but when they are in service, it all runs secondary to showcasing this magnificent stuff. Great art needs to be hung just right. 
  • Flexibility - we took a five course option (oink oink) but we’re desperate to eat gnocchi (which wasn’t even on our menu). Those little pillows of heaven....mmmm. So when we asked to drop the tuna for the gnocchi, was it a problem? No way. Then, on a roll, we wanted to sub out just two of the choccy soufflé for tiramasu...but was it a stretch? Nup. Done. Ever been in a cheap restaurant and tried to change stuff and felt treated like a serial killer?
  • Attention to detail - they knew what we needed before we needed it. Sounds simple; bloody hard to do.

So take a step back, realise that you’re in the service industry, and re-think the way you approach service.

Oh, and if anyone would like to send a cash donation please do so. After Saturday night’s meal one of our kids is probably not able to go to uni, and there aren’t too many factory jobs out there for them anymore.

* Apparantley it’s called Melbs by some, but I haven’t figured out if calling Melbourne Melbs makes me cool, or in fact, really daggy. If someone could let me know Melbs etiquette please.

** ‘Cept if they actually were in a cool magazine, that would make them sellouts and they’d probably be ostracised by their really cool friends.

*** Maybe really good olive oil given it’s an Italian restaurant?