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In the digital age of today, with social media, Yelp and similar platforms, venues’ reputations count for even more than before – and ‘you’re only as good as your last review’ mentality has kicked in.

Sean Finter, bar management consultant and owner at Barmetrix, illustrates how guest feedback is just the ticket to enhancing your bar or restaurant’s operational performance and can inform you to offering better experiences for your guests.


You can’t improve what you can’t measure. But how does that apply to measuring ‘soft skills’?

Bars and restaurants win or lose guests by the hospitality they deliver. Customers expect to be served well-crafted cocktails and delicious food, but what keeps them coming back time and time again is how guests feel about themselves while consuming them.

Coaching staff to deliver that “feeling” is both an art and science. The science is in the measurement.


Fast, meaningful feedback from your target market is the secret weapon of some of the world’s best bars and restaurants. In an environment where we are buried in endless data, knowing what to measure, when, from whom and how, is a science few hospitality companies have mastered.

For years measuring soft skills was considered by many to be too difficult. Instead, they waited for social media to tell them how they are doing. That would be similar to waiting for smoke to billow from beneath your bonnet to advise you to service your car motor. Often, far too late.

And besides, most of what you get from social media feedback is your customers telling you they love you, or your ex-customers broadcasting why they hate you. You’re missing out on the most crucial info: the opinion of the silent majority.

Getting that info is the Holy Grail in hospitality. It’s the critical data that allows you to measure your brand promise against your expectations and coach/reward/celebrate your staff day-by-day.


The key to getting actionable feedback is asking the right people the right questions at the right time.

The right people: All your guests in a certain time segment, not just the noisy few.

The right time: While your guests are still in your venue, not days later.

The right questions: Simple, specific and quantitative. Not general.

In his book, ‘The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth’, Fred Reichheld developed a system called the Net Promoter Score (NPS). In a nutshell, he determined that one key question is the strongest indicator to determine if you are successful in building customer loyalty.


This “Ultimate Question” will help you accurately determine:

Here’s the question:

Based on your recent experience, one a scale of 1-10, please tell us how likely you are to recommend us to friends or family.

That’s it. That simple.

How could this be so effective you might ask? Think about your own recommendations. When you make a recommendation, you are willing to stake your own reputation on it. Are your guests willing to do that for you?


You have 3 categories of people: those who are your ambassadors (Promoters), those who are lukewarm (Neutral), and those who take away from your reputation (Detractors).

Promoters: 9 or 10

Neutral: 7 or 8

Detractors: 1-6

Generally, 7 or 8 out of 10 is pretty darn good. But in the hospitality industry, it’s simply average— and customers aren’t looking for average—they’re looking for remarkable.

The 7’s and 8’s are neutral. You sold them food and drinks and then they have already forgotten about you. When asked for a recommendation, they’ll promote a venue that made a stronger impression.

A score from 1 - 6 runs from ‘awful to meh’. The customers awarding this score are now, or are soon-to-be, ex-customers that will warn anyone who asks away from your business. They are known as “Detractors”.


Now, tally up the scores. The key here is to get a generous sample. 200-300 is optimal.

For simplicity in the example, let’s say we gathered 10 survey cards.

To get your Net Promoter Score, add up the scores and find the percentages. Then subtract the detractor from the promoter scores, and you’re left with a percentage you can work with.

The second part of the survey cards is the comment section. This gives you more feedback that will help you gauge where you stand with your guests.

This is key. It allows you to group the feedback and act accordingly.

Fix what’s broken with the Detractors.

Figure out how to move the Neutrals up into the Promoter groups

Encourage your staff to do MUCH more of what the Promoters are loving.

One final note: as stated earlier, get a large sampling and make sure to mark the cards. For example, if you plan to put out 100 cards, make sure they are numbered. Staff sometimes make cards disappear if the scores aren’t positive and marking the cards (and announcing it to staff) ensures you get an accurate sampling.

Sample Card:

It’s imperative to measure your feedback over time to evaluate the performance and consistency of your venue and staff. Record your findings and track the progress – you’ll start to find common patterns and learnings that’ll enable you to better your performances individually and as an organisation.


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