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The Cheesecake Factory: Customer Service in the restaurant business

Customer service goes a long way before setting for success in the restaurant business. Often, good customer service appears cliché because different approaches work for different customers and in their own ways. A restaurant must adhere and maintain good service, regardless of all the possible obstacles. In most cases, customers want open and sincere communication. For instance, if a mistake occurs, the first instinct is the reaction a customer will have. Mistakes happen all the time, and most customers understand that well. However, many service providers at restaurants tend to be canny about it. The Cheesecake Factory understands that tasty food can only appeal to a customer if such food is followed up with good service. To that end, the chain trains its staff on how to handle customers effectively.

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As Pereira notes, honesty is cultivated at all levels of organizational structure within The Cheesecake Factory brand (1). In Pereira’s case, the waiter forgot to bring back a box of unfinished meal the couple wanted to carry home after not finishing it all. Instead of denying or pretending to be busy to avoid the couple’s contact, the waiter owned up to his mistake, apologized, and offered to refund the couple for their dessert. Customers may not remember a bad meal choice, but they will definitely remember a rude wait staff, careless waiter, and a long wait before attendance. The Cheesecake Factory ensures that customers get the best service by training employees on customer service skills, communication with customers among others. For this reason, the organization urges its employees to be familiar with all the menu items, and be cordial with customers among others. This offers customers something they can take away though intangible, which nurtures loyalty for the brand.

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Service Inseparability

Inseparability of service and core product goes hand in hand when it comes to restaurant business. Despite being the leaders in menu innovation, the chain also focuses on creating service that maximizes customer satisfaction. When a restaurant is voted for as the best place for dining, the restaurant management must brace for high traffic. Despite high traffic, consumers want their orders to be processed on time. This seems to be The Cheesecake Factory’s secret weapon. The organization uses surveys and analytics to measure the level of customer satisfaction. The chain is focused on outperforming the whole industry when it comes to service. For instance, Bryan H on Tripadvisor (1) notes that despite The Cheesecake Factory being a busy place, the wait staff strives to bring customers’ food as soon as possible and as ordered. Bryan also goes on to say that, the servers are friendly, while the food is delicious. It seems the restaurant has managed to combine great service to match the food served, resulting in inseparability. The company ensures that great service is maintained by retaining top talent, where most restaurant managers operating throughout the chain, are workers who have long-term experience with The Cheesecake Factory. Other than retaining the top talent, the organization also compensates the workers well. Many employees have termed the chain as the best place to work. Perhaps this is also the reason many customers have termed The Cheesecake Factory as one of the best places for casual dining.

Service Variability

With an annual customer base of at least 80 million people, at The Cheesecake Factory’s premises traffic is expected to be high. This attests to the quality of service and food offered at the restaurant. Customers will always come back to a place where they are sure they are going to be satisfied. Consequently, maintaining a busy place with the high number of customers who come and go could be tricky. Many customer reviews reveal that though the restaurants are busy at times, it is always worth the wait. This indicates service variability, where duration of service is dependent on the traffic in the restaurant. As Cynthia notes on Trip advisor, sometimes the wait depends upon the visiting time, but the food is worth the wait nonetheless. Another patron BillPG (1) notes on Zomato that sometimes you may have to wait for your order to be processed, but in the end, the service is excellent and the food is great. Many restaurants fail to take note of variability, which leads to dwindling customer loyalty. Customers are consistently looking for a place where they can have a good time and where service is reasonably efficient. However, on a downside, some customers have frequently indicated that the wait is too long. Variability is inevitable and, as such, managers must find ways in which the wait time is compensated through offering good and impeccable service. If a customer has to wait, while the wait staff keeps on making mistakes, they could get infuriated.

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Service Perishability

The Cheesecake Factory strives to create new recipes that appeal to the customers. The doors of the restaurants remain open every day of the year except on thanksgiving and Christmas. The company buys quantities that are required for everyday restaurant operations and have an accurate way of tracking inventories to ensure that optimal levels are held to support operations. The chain uses fresh ingredients daily because many customers have now become health conscious and do not want to consume food with preservatives. The organization also has a reputation of serving good tasting foods. This depicts the company’s position on perishability. The material requisition system must, therefore, be rigorous and timely to meet the perishability needs of the organization. The system must show accurate reports to stock levels and the expected sustenance duration. The essence of predicting time is to avoid having stale inventory that may water down the serving of good quality food. The high traffic of customers in The Cheesecake Factory urges the organization to keep a robust perishability timeline. This also helps to keep current info on which meals are available or not. For instance, special dinners on Sunday are served from 10am to 2pm after which they expire in that they cannot be served again. This marks service perishability.

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Pricing

The Cheesecake Factory employs a different pricing approach, as compared to other larger restaurants, such as McDonalds and Starbucks. The latter two competitors are largely known to place premium prices on their products to attract high-end consumers. On the contrary, The Cheesecake Factory has thrived towards the opposite. Many menu items in The Cheesecake Factory catalogue-like- menu bear an average price. This perhaps explains why customers like to flock at The Cheesecake Factory restaurants in large numbers. Over the years, price sustainability has become a key issue in business management. Organizations that price their products highly have been on the receiving end during economic downturn. However, the likes of The Cheese Factory have thrived by establishing sustainable prices. Since its inception, the idea was to offer customers large portions of a delicious Cheesecake at a fair price. Almost after half a century, later the prices at the Cheesecake Factory Chains continue to be competitive and friendly. For instance, prices in the salad categories range from $4.50 to $6.95, appetizer category prices range from $8.50 to $13.95, prices of pizza start from $10.95-$12.95, lunch specials cost $8.95 to 13.95. In the gamburgers category, the lowest price is $10.95, while the highest price is $17.95. In the pasta category, prices range from $13.95 to $18.95. Fish and seafood category start at $16.95 to $19.95. Factory combinations and steak and chops categories carry the highest prices with the most expensive dish going for between $20.95 and $29.95. Sundays are special and has a special category in the menu, where meal items on this category are served between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. Prices on this category start at $6.95 to 13.95 with kids’ meals costing only $ 6.95. The category of cheesecakes carries prices of $7.95, but as aforementioned, the portions are generous. Dessert and beverage category, which may include milkshakes, coffee, frozen juice, and other drinks carry a price starting as low as $2.95 to $8.95 (Restaurant Meal Prices 1).

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Distribution

The company operates restaurants under The Cheesecake factory and Grand Lux trademarks. Restaurant chain has 146 restaurants under The Cheesecake Factory name and 13 und the Grand Lux trademark. The organization also has two bakeries where production takes place. The baked items are then supplied to the restaurants under the chain and to other retailers and sellers. The organization has also entered into an agreement with the SYSCO Corporation, which is the largest food marketer and distributor in North America (The Cheesecake Factory 1). The corporation has restaurants in the Middle East with a plan of expanding to other regions, such as Africa, Europe, and Latin America. Besides the SYSCO agreement and bakery products sold to retailers, the restaurants also serve casual dinners, meaning the distribution channel is more direct. The direct distribution channel is advantageous because it allows the organization to control quality (The Cheesecake Factory: International development 1).

Promotion

The brand has thrived without any form of paid advertising. The company counts on quality of its products and services, media interest and excellent locations. By maintaining good service, pleased customers pass word to their friends. A sure example is the review on social media or blogs, such as trip advisor. Positive reviews also elicit interest among first time visitors. The organization has also enjoyed huge media coverage with journalists, writing articles in popular magazines, such as the New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, and Forbes. Dr. Atul Gawande has even gone further to recommend the organization as the best practice when it comes to quality management and operations standardization. In an Essay published in the New Yorker, Gawande urges the healthcare system to borrow from The Cheesecake Factory (1).

Conclusion

The Cheesecake Factory, despite its humble beginnings, has continued to grow amid mixed economic reactions. A closer peak behind the enigmatic brand reveals a creative management style that seamlessly combines various processes, such operations and service to create a unique and fulfilling customer experience. The company maintains high quality in a form of product and its various elements, as embedded in the service delivery. The company also uses a competitive pricing policy that has guaranteed its good performance economic hardships notwithstanding. The result is a happy and satisfied customer who spreads the word, thus eliciting interest in potential customers and eliminating the need for the organization to engage in paid advertisements.

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