Catering to customer expectations | Poll

SERVICE WITH A SMILE: Gemma Martin is part of the team at the Spring Gully General Store, which won the state Golden Plate award for best customer service. Picture: EMMA D'AGOSTINO

SERVICE WITH A SMILE: Gemma Martin is part of the team at the Spring Gully General Store, which won the state Golden Plate award for best customer service. Picture: EMMA D'AGOSTINO

RELATED: Region’s eateries pick up awards

As Bendigo’s culinary culture evolves, so too do customers’ expectations. 

“Customers are more aware,” says Spring Gully General Store owner Adam Nicoletti. 

Television shows such as Masterchef have helped boost people’s knowledge of cooking techniques, plating and presentation. 

Travel has broadened the scope of customer dining and drinking experiences.

Consumers are more health-conscious in their choices, particularly those with special dietary requirements. 

And there are more platforms than ever before for people to share their experiences – good and bad. 

Cafes might have been able to get away with poor service in the past, Nicoletti says, but not now.

“People aren’t happy with mediocre service levels,” he says.

The Spring Gully General Store is the recipient of the 2016 Golden Plate state award for best customer service.

Nicoletti attributes the recognition to the efforts of his staff, from those waiting tables to the chefs in the kitchen.

“Initiative and awareness is extremely important,” he says.

He says he challenges service staff to be aware of what their tables are up to, and of any assistance they can provide. 

Equally important is the attitude they bring to their role, and the atmosphere the team creates for the customer.

“I hire for personality,” Nicoletti says. 

The skills involved in waiting tables can be taught, he says.

“You can’t train for attitude.”

It’s the relentless pursuit of excellence, of questioning what can be done better, that Nicoletti believes is crucial to success in the hospitality industry.

Bendigo businesses shone brightly in the Harwood Andrews Golden Plate Gala State Awards, which recognise excellence in hospitality in regional Victoria.

The Woodhouse Restaurant took out the title for best contemporary dining. Cortille Cafe was awarded for the best coffee. 

The people’s choice went to the Old Boundary Hotel. 

“Well over 20,000 votes were received across the state during a six week social media campaign,” says Golden Plate awards state director Pamela Jewson.

“The Golden Plate Facebook page alone was hitting above 35,000 post reaches per week.”

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