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Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business Paperback – January 29, 2008
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The bestselling business book from award-winning restauranteur Danny Meyer, of Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, and Shake Shack
Seventy-five percent of all new restaurant ventures fail, and of those that do stick around, only a few become icons. Danny Meyer started Union Square Cafe when he was 27, with a good idea and hopeful investors. He is now the co-owner of a restaurant empire. How did he do it? How did he beat the odds in one of the toughest trades around? In this landmark book, Danny shares the lessons he learned developing the dynamic philosophy he calls Enlightened Hospitality. The tenets of that philosophy, which emphasize strong in-house relationships as well as customer satisfaction, are applicable to anyone who works in any business. Whether you are a manager, an executive, or a waiter, Danny’s story and philosophy will help you become more effective and productive, while deepening your understanding and appreciation of a job well done.
Setting the Table is landmark a motivational work from one of our era’s most gifted and insightful business leaders.
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From the Publisher
“Danny Meyer, restaurateur nonpareil, shares his never-fail recipe for business success.” — Vanity Fair
“Restaurateur Danny Meyer offers a rich menu of business tips.” — Time magazine
“Anyone in the hospitality industry would do well to consult ‘Setting the Table’.” — Wall Street Journal
From the Inside Flap
A landmark, bestselling business book and a fascinating behind-the-scenes history of the creation of Danny's most famous eating establishments, Setting the Table is a treasure trove of valuable, innovative insights applicable to any business or organization.--Time magazine
- Publisher : Ecco; Reprint edition (January 29, 2008)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0060742763
- ISBN-13 : 978-0060742768
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.76 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #10,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
Reviewed in the United States on August 11, 2019
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Top reviews from the United States
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As a business leader you should study excellence in your industry and outside of your industry and there are numerous take-aways in Setting the Table that can be applied to any business. Here are ten excellent points I took away from Mr. Meyer's book.
1. The Excellence Reflex - "A natural reaction to fix something that isn't right, or to improve something that could be better." The excellent reflex is a natural reaction that some people have and cannot be taught. Meyer trains his leaders how hire those that have it.
2. Employees can be categorized as Overwhelmers, Whelmers, and Underwhelmers. It is easy to identify Underwhelmers and get rid of them. The most dangerous employees are the Whelmers because "they infuse an organization and its staff with mediocrity...and send a dangerous message to your staff and guests that "average" is acceptable."
3. Coaching is correcting with dignity.
4. You obtain valuable leadership skills while managing volunteers. It requires you to consistently motivate employees beyond their earnings.
5. Create a sense of "shared ownership" with your customers by taking an interest in them and making them feel important. They will view you as a partner instead of a provider.
6. ABCD - Always Be Collecting Dots. You should aggressively collect lots of little information about your customer (dots) as they interact with your product or service. Then make the connection between the dots as a mechanism to improve your product or service to all customers.
7. Customers may love your product or service but the relationship that they have with you or your employees is what builds loyalty. Therefore you should take every opportunity to exceed expectations to create a lasting relationship.
8. Enlightened Hospitality - "We would define our successes and our failures in terms of the degree to which we had championed, first, one another and then our guests, community, suppliers and investors." This is an extremely powerful concept and is rooted in the integrity theme Meyer has throughout the book. You can't expect employees that don't treat each other with respect, who can't be hospitable with one another to then turn around and treat the customer with respect and high levels of hospitality a customer deserves. Poor relationships internal to the organization migrate to poor relationships external to the organization. Ultimately being last on the list benefits the investor by long term organizational success.
9. Judge your staff on 51 percent emotional job performance and 49 percent technical job performance. You can always teach technical while emotional is much harder if not impossible to develop. Lack of emotional job performance skills destroys teams and alienates customers.
10. "The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled" and "the worst mistake is not to figure out some way to end up in a better place after having made a mistake."
The ten points above are obviously more powerful in the context of the book when illustrated with Mr. Meyer's stories and experiences.
Dr. James T. Brown PMP PE CSP
Author, The Handbook of Program Management
Do your clients feel like guests?
I think people who work in the hospitality (particularly hotels) look at their jobs in one of two ways, most see their jobs as helping someone to have a good night’s sleep, in a clean and nice room. Some others see their job as making sure guests are relaxed, that guests enjoy their city, and that guests don’t have to worry about a THING. The latter are the 5%’ers Danny speaks about.
The book starts off a lot about Danny’s background, it was admittedly slow, but chapter 4 is when it started sinking in for me, so if you get it start there if you are pressed for time.
“The opportunity to make someone feel special is all around you, just look UNDER the rocks”
In this chapter it opens with a story about turning over rocks, and Danny talks about how he sees it as his job to turn over the rocks of his business, look deeper than what is on the surface to understand more about your clients. As usual learning to watch and listen is again showing itself as a critical skill in making someone feel special.
Later he goes on to speak about 51%'ers...
The 51%’ers have 5 core characteristics:
1 – Optimistic Warmth
2 – Intelligence
3 – Work Ethic
4 – Empathy
5 – Self awareness and Integrity
I liked how chapter 9 opened up with “Constant, Gentle Pressure”, Danny states that the core of effective leadership lies in:
1 – Setting a clear vision for your team so they know where you are taking them
2 – Hold people accountable to consistent standards of excellence
3 – Communicate, repeatedly, a well-defined set of cultural priorities and non-negotiable values
Throughout the book there were times I found myself nodding and saying "yup" again and again.
Danny has struggled with scaling his business and not losing his soul in the process and goes into great detail on what creates scale that doesn't get too far away from core principles.
Lastly he ends the book with this reminder:
“The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled.”
In other words we are all going to make mistakes, that’s a given, it’s how you handle them that is the key. The concept of writing the great last chapter on every mistake is the KEY. When a mistake is made, it’s made, but the future is NOT made yet. How can you take a mistake that happened and turn it into the great last chapter in the story with a client? You can only turn things around when you genuinely care about the person, and righting the wrong.
Top reviews from other countries
A must read for anyone thinking of starting a business in the catering trade.