I was celebrating a birthday at one of our most lavish and fine dining restaurants. I was enjoying the experience, the company was fantastic, the food was amazing, and the service was astonishing. I really focused on the service as I was enjoying the meal. Fine dining restaurants are known for delivering the highest level of customer service. In fact customers expect an elegant ambiance, lavish table settings, and a much higher financial commitment. Servers are expected to uphold the fine dining etiquette and experience.
I can tell you I started thinking about what protectors could learn from the fine dining establishment. My server served me the above "Tomahawk Steak." He was nervous because he couldn't get the shrimp on the steak just right. After, he asked me if I wanted the bone left on the table. Why? As a status symbol for ordering the most expensive steak. Not necessarily far from a ultra high net-worth client walking around with their security. Many aspects of fine dining are dictated by rules and traditions that must be learned and experienced. Here are a list of five things taught to me by my fine dining experience that you can apply to being an executive protection professional.
Preparation for Service: Even before the experience begins the dining room is put in order; a term known as Mise en place, "put into place." In executive protection we must prepare for a detail well before a detail begins. Tableware is inspected, server stations are set up, tables are clean and inspected, and the lighting sets the mood. Think of the security vehicle. Vehicle is clean (inside and out), the vehicle is set up for the client (seat moved forward for leg room, water, and gift basket inside), and your professionalism sets the security experience and confidence by your client.
Formal Table Settings: Have you ever wondered about table settings? There are tons of varying etiquette and articles on table settings. Think about your setting you provide your client who expects executive level settings when they pay for your service. As soon as you begin your detail the client should know the service will be excellent. Your appearance and vehicle is professional. You have planned every route and your organization of the detail is impeccable.
Proper Etiquette for Service: The style of serving used in a formal fine dining setting represents the highest level of hospitality. A great server is detail oriented, observant, and intuitive. They anticipate the needs of the guest while remaining unobtrusive. Does this sound familiar? In executive protection the guest is the client. With these skills the client will receive the best executive service possible.
Wine Service: The wine ordered was the most expensive. I was asked if I wanted the cork and if I wanted the wine decanted. Of course I said yes as I wanted the experience. Wine service is usually performed at your table in a very meticulous and systematic manner. As executive protection professionals we have a term called "working the principal." It is our choreographed and systematic movements with the principal. Our planning is extremely meticulous and we know how to utilize the tools we are possessing.
Grooming and Etiquette: Whatever fine dining restaurant you are experiencing the servers grooming and behavior must be flawless. In view of their guests they must carry themselves with professionalism and poise. Many restaurants require their servers uniforms to be spotless and pressed, they have their own grooming standards to give a professional appearance and exhibit proper posture, no informal conversations, they are careful not to touch the guest, they don't point, and they don't eat and drink in front of the guests. That list really should apply to executive protection as well.
This article originated by me observing employees at a fine dining restaurant. In fact, they'd probably make good mentors in providing executive and high net worth level service. I get that there are other tools and skills we must possess but when dealing with the c-suite or your high net worth clients consider these five tips as provided by a fine dining experience.