In the hospitality industry, we are all in the business of customer service. Yet, when asked what sets us apart from our competition, most owners will cite "customer service" as their greatest attribute. But, if we all share this one thing, how do we set ourselves apart from the pack? What can we provide for our clients to make a difference worth paying for?
Concierge services are a good way to provide the highest quality add-ons that make clients stand up and take notice. Simple services may be setup, on-site delivery, after hours, pickup, and so on… what can we add to stand out?
What are your clients looking for?
Listen to your clients. In response to a client's need, we created our first concierge service. Rental linens notoriously have a press line down the center because of the size of the flatwork irons we use to press and dry our fabrics. As part of our routine setup service, we make sure that all press lines go in the same direction away from the door, not to catch the eye.
It never fails to surprise me when clients complain about the pressmark, and we noticed that one gala chair had her committee bring an ironing board and iron to hand press the linenfold before placing them on the table. The committee members were probably unaccustomed to ironing, let alone ironing 132" table linens.
On-site pressing became one of our newest offerings. For a minimal setup charge and a small fee per cloth, we will arrive onsite with ironing boards and (very nice) irons to press the crease and any fold marks from the linens and place on the table as a part of general setup. Our first opportunity to showcase the service was for the gala chair, who inspired our service
A few goodies for rental companies
In addition to onsite pressing, we have added white-glove service for china, "no-logo" uniform coordination, and personalized linens. These services seem simple on the surface but are not services that most companies provide.
A caterer usually provides White-Glove service for a formal dinner, but frequently clients request china set up as part of our initial delivery. By giving this above and beyond service, you can provide set up of dinnerware and maintain the same level of sanitization by providing staff with clean white gloves or sterile non-latex disposable gloves. It is not something every rental company offers, and it sets you apart just by providing the service.
Many corporate planners and destination management services have requested that rental companies not wear company logos while on site. Take this one step further by providing a simple colored shirt to match the corporate planner's colors while making the delivery or providing the setup. It can be a simple one-time charge to the client, covering the cost of the t-shirts, which can be provided with each job. Go one step further, ask if they are willing to provide their logo shirts for your staff in appropriate sizes that you will maintain and wear to each job they book.
For my company, it made sense to offer personalized linens. Every client wants to feel like they are your only client. Even though you are a rental company, what can you do to make them feel special? Your client has made selections from your inventory, is it something you have available in new stock or have fabric available to make. Offer your client a memento of their day by providing monogrammed napkins or sell them their cake table and offer a cut-down version after the event that will fit their table at home. This is something that was originally a request from a mother-of-bride.
What services are right for you?
I can't say it enough- listen to your clients, and hear what they are saying. Are they complaining about something that happened at a prior event, or are they looking for something that no one else offers? Sometimes the things customers say they want can be pricey, but why do they want it?
Take a look at the service and put a cost on it. Make the price worth your time; not every customer will want the service based on price, but the fact that you offer it sets you apart. Some things we offer are a great item to advertise because it makes customer service the thing that sets us apart in a definable way.