How much easier would it be to scale your business if your employees were your number-one ambassadors? Imagine employees that love you and your business so much, they never leave. Not only that, they love you so much, they will do whatever it takes to deliver extreme value to your customers.
I recently sat down with Steve DiFillippo, the entrepreneur and restaurateur behind Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse, with restaurants throughout Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Atlanta and soon expanding into California. You can typically find DiFillippo cooking it up on popular morning TV shows or demonstrating his 12 minutes to ready spring rolls on QVC.
He’s a culinary artist, celebrity business tycoon, author and a fanatical purveyor of unforgettable dining experiences. How can one man do it all? Easy. He’s built an army of employees who are passionate about the brand and who are devoted to exceeding the expectations of their guests.
Here are DiFillippo’s four savory strategies to building an army of loyal employees:
1. Know your guests.
DiFillippo recently authored a book, It’s All About the Guest. In it, he shares an important secret about building an awesome business. Serving up high quality, artistically crafted meals is important, of course. However, DiFillippo says that the guests most restaurants forget about are the ones that come and go from the back door: the employees.
DiFillippo’s mission is to go above and beyond to take care of all guests, including the ones who work for him, because they are the front-line army taking care of the guests who come to eat. When your employees feel valued, appreciated and loved, they will create an environment where the dining guests feel that way too.
2. Celebrate birthdays.
DiFillippo never misses an employee’s birthday. He always reaches out to each person on his or her special day with a call or text message, which is remarkable considering he has more than 850 people working for his organization. Each employee also receives a card and cash gift on their birthday. It’s DiFillippo’s way of making sure his people know that their company loves them.
3. Hire amazing people.
DiFillippo says that building a team of people who care deeply about the brand and about the guests requires that you hire the right people from the start.
There’s one simple trick DiFillippo uses for finding awesome people. As part of the interview process, potential employees are asked about how they give back. Do they volunteer? Are they associated with charitable, community or civic foundations? DiFillippo says that he knows an employee will make a great fit based on what they are doing to make the world a better place.
DiFillippo notes that Davio’s is in the business of creating unforgettable dining experiences for their guests and the employees best suited to deliver that experience are the ones who simply care about people at their core.
4. Walk in their shoes.
There’s no telling where DiFillippo may be on a given day, but there’s a decent chance he’s working on the floor at one of his restaurants. He might be out back preparing the food. He might be greeting you at the front door. He might be bussing your table.
DiFillippo says he is not above doing any job at any of his restaurants. By walking in the shoes of his team members, he finds opportunities to make their jobs easier while never compromising the dining experience of the guests.
By Stacey Alcorn