Romano’s Macaroni Grill is rolling out to all 181 company restaurants a system that helps servers boost sales and guest satisfaction by combining data analysis with personalized coaching.
The Dallas-based casual-dining chain said in a statement released with its vendor for the project, Avero Inc., that as a result of a successful eight-unit test of the server mentoring system, it anticipates a 1-percent increase in average checks at restaurants using the hybrid strategy.
The initiative involves automated analysis of point-of-sale-system data to determine, among other things, where servers perform below their same-restaurant peers in different sales metrics, such as number of appetizers or desserts sold nightly, the companies said.
The service provider sends e-mails weekly to restaurant managers with information about the areas in which each server has room for improvement, as well as notes with action steps to help managers better mentor employees as they work to remedy their relative performance shortcomings.
As a follow up, the service provider’s on-staff trainers speak by phone every other week with restaurant managers to review program results and share best practices, among other conversation topics.
Officials of Mac Acquisition LLC, parent to the Romano’s Macaroni Grill chain, declined to disclose the cost of the server mentoring service. However, Norman Abdallah, chief executive, said he considered it “one of the best ways to generate incremental revenue with limited capital expense.”
The mentoring system also represents “an opportunity to enhance guest service,” according to Brandon Coleman III, Mac Acquisition LLC chief marketing officer.
“For us, it is about getting the server to engage more deeply with the guest,” he explained.
The idea that the mentoring system can improve guests’ perceptions about service as well as sales was supported by test findings.
Coleman said per-person average spending increased at test restaurants, compared with their pre-test run rate. But so did net promoter scores, or the number resulting after the chain subtracts the percentage of surveyed guests who are detractors from the percentage of guests who would recommend it to others.
What’s more, he said, the rate of growth in net promoter scores at test units exceeded the rate of growth at control restaurants not testing the mentoring system.
Coleman said the mentoring program’s comparative analysis of wait-staff members on a restaurant-by-restaurant basis, as opposed to using chainwide norms for such comparisons, improves the accuracy of its findings and staff buy in. That’s the case, he indicated, because chainwide performance norms might not reflect the very real impact on sales and menu mix at specific restaurants of such factors as location, climate and regional consumer dining preferences.
The mentoring program is not being tied to employee performance evaluations, Coleman said.
Abdallah said the program can increase server earnings by increasing the sales on which their tips are based.
Mac Acquisition LLC is majority owned by Golden Gate Capital Group LLC of San Francisco. It operates or franchises about 220 Romano Macaroni Grill restaurants in the United States and other countries or territories.