Tom & Chee Home

How To Develop And Keep Your Service Promise

woman on computerRoger David is the President/CEO of GSR Brands, the parent organization of Gold Star Chili and Tom & Chee.

What do Coca-Cola, Nike and Starbucks all have in common besides being the top major players in their industries? All are known as being committed to their service promise. They have a guarantee about what anyone buying their product, visiting their business or using their services should expect. A service promise can speak to a company’s product or service, or, as is the case with Coca-Cola’s promise “to inspire moments of optimism and uplift,” it can speak to the role they play in the greater good of the world (not just a company or industry) and help align the mindset of each employee.

What is your brand’s service promise? If you don’t know — or worse yet, you don’t have one — you’re doing a disservice to your customers/clients, employees and, ultimately, your company itself. Once you understand the importance of a service promise, you will not only aspire to develop your own but also continuously work to keep it, as it will inspire nearly every decision you make moving forward.

Your Service Promise Must Be Your Bond 

A service promise is essentially a complement to your company’s mission or vision statement. It is sometimes referred to as a “brand promise,” but a service promise is different in a very distinct and important way. While your brand promise details the company’s goals as an organization, a service promise focuses squarely on customers by outlining the type of experience they will have and how the company will deliver it every time.

For restaurants, which are customer service-driven, a clear service promise and plan to bring it to life are vital to the business’s success. The competition in this line of business is intense — even more so in wake of the devastating economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Connecting with customers has never been more important because they not only want to know they are getting a quality product but that they’ll be safe when visiting restaurants as well.

That’s why my restaurant brand’s service promise — “to make you feel like family” — is the focus throughout our business every day.

Family is the basis for my company’s service promise for a reason: Our business has humble beginnings as the creation of immigrants whose success is a quintessential American story.

When my family came to this country seeking a better life, the only thing my father and uncles had was each other. Ingrained in them was the belief in caring for others as they would their own family. This is the basis for our service promise — to continue the tradition set by our parents and grandparents.

Three Keys To Keeping Your Service Promise

Understanding the importance of family and treating our customers like extended family members made our business strong. It’s why we train our employees with a three-pillar approach to deliver on our service promise. By encouraging employees to treat guests like family, engaging in actually treating them like family, and then creating a memory that meets or exceeds expectations, we’re working to set ourselves apart from competitors. Develop and keep your service promise and you will, too, by creating ambassadors who feel an emotional connection to your company that goes beyond what they purchase.

Keeping your promise requires commitment coupled with active, demonstrated participation day in and day out. Otherwise, your service promise just becomes a collection of words that sound nice but have no significance. For us, this means knowing our regulars by name and their orders, partnering with local schools and nonprofits to give back to the community, honoring front-line and essential workers, and so much more.

Think about your favorite places to eat, shop or get a haircut. Chances are they’ve become places you go to not just for the quality service but for the familiar, friendly faces you see and the fact that they already know what you need before you say a word. This kind of service sounds nice, but how does it affect your business’s bottom line? Significantly, according to the research.

A recent article by the MIT Sloan Management Review discusses how having a human-centered approach enables entrepreneurs to excel, even in times of extreme crisis. Our belief in giving back to our community — our extended family, as we see them — has helped our community standing because people know our commitment isn’t lip service or a gimmick. It is just another extension of our service promise in action.

This is why training franchise owners, employees, etc. on how to live your service promise is critical to business success. If they don’t understand the importance of it, they can’t perform it. If they don’t believe in it, customers won’t experience it (and may not give you a second chance to provide the missing experience). This is why our service promise also includes treating our own employees like family. When we treat each other like family, that same mentality translates into how we treat others who walk through the door. We work every day to make sure employees know their efforts to treat guests like family makes a difference.

Making Promises And Keeping Them

A service promise may sound like an antiquated idea, but as any successful organization can tell you, it is not. It is a guarantee that people have come to expect and rely on and is the reason they’re loyal customers, both in good and bad times.

Craft your service promise. Train employees on how to put it into practice, and make sure it’s something everyone in your business believes in. We’ve been able to enjoy 56 years in business as a result of our commitment to our service promise, and I can tell you that your business will be better once you make or reaffirm your commitment to your service promise.

*Originally posted on