Who is it all about? Us or the person we serve?

The small details and the signals they send

Fine dining. An industry full of big personalities, big talent, and elegantly interwoven stories. I can’t say that I have much experience dining in such places, but occasionally I am fortunate enough to enjoy beautifully prepared food in lovely places.

This weekend was one of those times. Jana and I spent the weekend in Kyneton and Daylesford and had a lovely time enjoying nature, good food and locally produced wine. It was heaven as we also managed to spend time with some friends that lived in the local area.

One night, we dined at a double-hatted restaurant (Australia’s equivalent to Michelin Stars) and it was worth every penny. One detail I noticed was the salt and pepper on the table. It struck me as I have dined in many restaurants where the salt and pepper are not available. In the occasional higher end restaurant, it is forbidden.

The reason for this is that a resident Head Chef believes that it would be an insult to their food if salt was added and would be a suggestion that they are serving up bland food. I feel this is a circumstance where it is all about the ego of the head chef with little focus on the consumer.


In my case, I have a typically big Roman nose, but have a weak sense of smell and therefore taste. So, the occasional sprinkle of a little extra salt or pepper can make a difference to highlight the flavours of food I eat. For others, they may have particular tastes or sensitivities, so if they want to add seasoning to their meal to enhance it, then so be it.

For all of us in our own roles, we provide our services and experiences to our customers, and it is a great team conversation to have to understand the details of what we provide and how it gives the customer agency to have a great seamless experience. A much better way to build advocates and loyalists rather than boosting our own feeling of self-importance.

Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, and a seriously brilliant speaker on all things team, business, and hospitality says, “Good service means never having to ask for anything.” Everything a customer wants is ready for them. they don’t need to get your attention, disturb the service to others, wait for you to fetch what they need, and so on. It is critical to increase productivity within, while simultaneously offering a superior experience. A success defining win-win scenario in my world.

And for those reading this thinking, “but I don’t have a customer,” I would say that every single person has a customer, and probably quite a few. Your customer may reside in other departments, they may be a direct report, or they may be your manager. These are all customers, and worth checking to see if their version of ‘salt ’n’ pepper’ is on the table.

Learn more: paulfarina.com.au