Tie-ups with similar industries help market F&B outlets to larger audience

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General Manager, The Pride Plaza, New Delhi, Pankaj Mathur, talks to Foodservice India about taking a customer-centric approach to service and hospitality to ensure that customers revisit your F&B outlets time and again..
What foodservice formats are running at your establishment? Tell us about the star attractions and offerings at your F&B outlets?
Café Pride is our global cuisine all-day dining restaurant. It features specialty European and Indian dishes prepared fresh from a show kitchen. Another outlet Oriental Spice features Chinese, Thai and other Oriental delicacies. While it is open for dinner only, Stallion – our Bar and Lounge – is open from 11 am till 1 am. Mr Confectioner is our Pastry Shop.
How do the service and hospitality requirements differ from each other?
Most of our guests are corporates and we also have leisure as a major segment. We feature probably the best buffet breakfast in the city as all guests would love to have a hearty breakfast. We also have à la carte options available in Café Pride and Oriental Spice. Many guests who are on plans have the option of an extensive buffet spread or an exclusive TDH option.
How do you apply the elements of service and hospitality in your F&B regimen at your outlets?
The guest is always right, but when in doubt, give the guest the benefit of the doubt! We have four pillars of hospitality, which are core to our business – Care, Own, Respect and Engage. We have infused these concepts into our professional work ethics through intensive training on rendering exemplary hospitality – creating WOW factors on every service touch point and thus unexpectedly delighting the guest.
How exactly do you bring to bear your service standards at your F&B outlets?
We make every guest feel special. We create a convivial atmosphere and encourage our staff to engage with guests and build a bond with them. Our endeavour is that “every guest goes delighted”. For that, our associates have been trained to handle guest complaints and resolve them immediately.
What are your processes and operational guidelines for dealing with kids, hyper-active children, spirited and even troublesome youngsters and those with disabilities at your F&B outlets?
This is a great question. We have developed a manual (guidelines) to deal with difficult guests or with hyperactive kids. During training sessions, we discuss various situations that we have all gone through and how they have been handled. The manual serves only as a guideline and we would like each and every associate of ours to use his judgement and take decisions to ensure that the guest is happy!
Suppose a guest that recently ate at your restaurant went on your website or on social media and made the following comment: “The meal was outrageous! I will never order it again.” How would you interpret the guest’s response and what would you do at your end?
It has happened in the past and could happen again (hopefully not). I will apologise immediately on the pubic platform and take the guest offline to resolve his complaint. We call the guest back to give him a better experience – making him a friend forever! The guest normally posts back that he is extremely happy with the immediate response and by the action taken by the Head of the unit!
Which are the technology tools you are employing for ensuring higher F&B standards at your outlets?
We are utilising R LIKE – guests are given a tab where they can feed in their comments on their experience. This goes immediately as a WhatsApp message to a select group of senior managers – the Chef/ Manager approaches the guest immediately, if there has been an issue for immediate resolution or to thank the guest for his feedback. Another technology toll is Cansys, which is a CRM software that helps us track orders and reminds us on service / clearance.
Do you have any collaboration with an outside company in another industry to pair products or services that will ensure higher standards and appeal to a bigger market?
We need to market our hotel and F&B outlets to a larger audience and so I think it would be great to tie up with similar industries.
What is the style your establishment follows with regard to food service by way of the selection and presentation of appetisers and beverages?
We recommend buffet style for most functions, which include at site items. Today most of the snacks are also made and finished at site and guests go across and pick up snacks on a plate – snacks this way are served piping hot.
In your opinion, which is the best approach when it comes to arranging and managing appetisers and beverages at a well-attended event?
As I mentioned earlier, the best snacks can never remain piping hot when rotated on rechaud lamps or when served on chafers. The best way is to have all snacks served at site and allow the guests to help themselves – snacks should not go onto chafers as they tend to dry up.
If I were to ask you to name some other F&B brands and players in the industry who come across as paragons of service and hospitality, who would you choose?
Taj and Oberoi are the epitome of hospitality. Today, free-standing restaurants like Indian Accent and Farzi Café have made a mark for themselves. My personal favourite is Carnatic Cafe at New Friends Colony, which is a small homely comfortable restaurant serving the finest south Indian food – the owner personally goes around meeting guests and taking feedback.

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