Customer reviews of your wait staff's awesomeness all in one app

So two guys walk into a bar...

After enjoying drinks and a great experience, they realized the bartender has no easy way to stay connected to them as repeat customers.
Founders Jack and Terrance have an answer with I Like My Waitress. Their vision is to turn your wait staff into sales people well beyond the table and give service personnel a platform to build their brand.

Recently I talked about beating the competition by having better employees. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon I Like My Waitress (ILMW), a great tool to multiply the value of your employee's performance. This is an exciting tool for proactive restaurateurs.

Here's my interview with one of the founders Jack Moore. 

EB: Tell everyone how you came up with the idea for ILMW.

Jack: Terrance has had a lot of exposure to the service industries and night life with as well as experience work in the industry. He saw a need for customers to better connect with their server and saw a need for service staff to be able to better brand themselves. We thought this would be a great tool to let service staff do more with their professional service careers. Servers can market themselves directly to their customers.

EB: How long has the app been on the market and who is your initial target user?

Jack: We came out in early December (2014). Right now we are taking a minimalist approach. We want our initial feature set to be a really sleek experience for any one who uses the app. Our goal, especially when our 2.0 comes out, is to get this to the service professionals. The big message we want to get across is that we are advocating for the service professionals. As managers seek to operate more efficiently and customers seek better deals the service professional can get lost in all of that. We want waiters, waitresses and bartenders to have better opportunities and more tools through which they can perform better.

EB: What are some of the features of ILMW that help servers sell?

Jack: From the customer side ILMW allows you to follow your favorite server, like when they are working. You can also share a little bit of personal information like drink preferences with your server. For the diners we want this to be a simple use case. They can review their service at any restaurant (from one app). You know when to come in for high quality service from the servers you like.

On the server side, the server can market directly to you (the customer) in a very personalized way. If you develop a rapport with a certain bartender you can expect to hear from him about a slow night this week with an offer to come in and he will buy you a beer.

From the server side we wanted this to be a complex tool for managing their careers. We looked at Linkedin and found that less than three percent of bartenders, waiters, and waitresses are using it as a career tool. We asked, "What is their culture not providing that we could provide?" We let the servers market themselves directly to the customer.

Managers have visibility to the person by person reviews and scores a server receives. They can see which servers are driving sales through the app and which servers are receiving the best reviews. This lets them (managers) really manage the service experience in the restaurant.

EB: How will a server be able to learn from a bad review and  improve their score?

Jack: We are working on an algorithm to isolate a server's performance based on a simple one to five star rating that we ask for from the diner. We want to filter out mitigating factors that the server has no control over. Like if your food comes out really late because the kitchen is swamped. We want to make sure no server gets put in the tank because the restaurant had a bad night. On a similar note we don't want a server to be able to use a stunning restaurant as a crutch.

We want people to learn as much as they can. They can experiment with their approach to service. If they have the initiative and drive they can become this next level server that commands higher tips and brings in more customers to their restaurant. We are providing a way to show those numbers in a sure fire way. Currently managers would have to be on the floor to see a server in action or go on a gut feeling.

EB: How can a manager use this data to customize training programs to include best practices?

Jack: We are not as mature in that thinking as we'd like to be. We have talked a lot about creating a knowledge base on ways to improve service performance. We will keep people involved by writing articles on how to get better tips and improving service. 

EB: What is your monetization plan for the app?

Jack: The app is free to servers and diners. A small set of features will be free to managers. All of the data analytics will be a premium service. We are working on ways to track how good of a marketer the servers are based on server reach out offers. Managers will be able to see reviews and ratings on each server. You (manager) will be able to offer promotions through the app as well. We are still working on the right price point.

EB: What do you say to managers who are concerned about losing their best servers to other gigs because they now have this self promotion platform?

Jack: We have heard a little bit of that from managers. What we say is that for every great server you may loose we are going to bring you three more. where your going to know coming in that they are a high quality service professional. Where as before you would not know until you put them on the floor.

I really enjoyed my time with Jack. You can tell the founders of ILMW have a desire to help wait staff succeed who are willing to put in the work.

The issue of server safety did come up. Jack was clear that the app has controls for privacy. The server controls how much of their personal and professional information they put on the app. I have a good feeling these guys will continue to smooth out any wrinkles along the way.

How would you use I Like My Waitress to elevate the performance of your service staff? 

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