Reviews & Editorials

QSR Magazine Logo

Treat Customers Like Your Boss' Family

Author: QSR Magazine

Posted: Sun, 8 Jan 2012 04:33 PM he became a Russoís Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen franchisee, David Martinez ran a bookstore, a gym, and a Ben & Jerryís shop. Today, after more than three years of running his two Texas-based Russoís units, Martinez says thereís one thing he learned at his former businesses that helps him outperform quick-serve competition: good customer service is critical.

Martinezís style of establishing relationships with customers and treating them like family has translated into deeply loyal customers, some of whom have traveled more than 160 miles just to check out his second Russoís unit. Because of such service, Martinezís units are two of the companyís best performing stores.

Martinez shares his secrets on how franchisees can establish personal ties to their clientele.

1. Stay in the Dining Room

Look, itís no secret to anybody in this business that your customer can get food anywhere. The fact that they chose you and your brand is a victory in itself, which is why it has to be a good experience. I still believe that the experience starts with the owner and operator of the unit.
ďI tell my staff to treat every customer as if they were my family.Ē

If I donít have something crucial to do for the success of my business, Iím out on the floor the whole time. Franchisees forget that. Stay out where the business happens and keep monitoring your customer interaction. Watch your staff or other employees and how they uphold their image and relations with customers.

This brings up another point: You have to treat your staff well, too. It doesnít make any sense to pound customer service into their brains and treat them with no quality or respect. Itís simple stuff, too. Know their names. Interact with them. Let the relationship you have with them be an example for how they should interact with the customer.

2. Treat Them Like Family

A common example of good customer service is telling your staff to treat them like you would treat family. The problem with that is some people might take that with a more relaxed attitude. I tell my staff to treat every customer as if they were my family.

Itís obvious that my wife and kids unintentionally get treated differently when they come in, but thatís because my staff wants to perform well for them because of me. Had I not treated employees with the same type of respect, they might not feel this way.

I also tend to hire employees based on personality rather than experience. Itís a gamble, but they are the ones who have to generate customer satisfaction. We can train them on the food and technical aspects, but Iíd rather have a personality out on the floor above anything else. Again, it goes back to giving the customers an experience that they wonít be able to get anywhere else.  

3. Survey Your Customers

The best part about maintaining customer service is being able to see the fruit of your labors. When Iím out on the floor, I might see the same customer two or three times a day. However, like all aspects of this business, it comes at a cost, and customer surveys are still the best way to find out what customers want.

I have managers randomly go to tables and drop off surveys at the conclusion of a meal. Itís no secret tactic, but it certainly is the most effective. Itís a chance for the customers to speak for themselves and a chance for my staff and I to turn complainers into regulars.

One of these types of complaints came from a customer who made the 160-mile trek to have dinner with me at my new store. From a total stranger to an irate customer to a loyalist, complaints can happen.

4. Play to Your Strengths

Being an Italian-style restaurant, Iíve been able to turn cultural ideals into good customer service. Italians are generally known for big families and big eating. I can utilize what I already know from my own upbringing to better run my business. Just pick what youíre good at doing. 

It might be harder for a franchisee who doesnít have this sort of restaurant style to use, but it comes down to authenticity. This isnít something new that Iíve just implemented. I was doing the same sort of customer service with my past businesses. If you have personality filling the building, you can make any business type work. It might be more difficult for some franchisees managing more common units with less of a chance to expand on the cultural aspect of business. Nonetheless, donít use this as an excuse.

5. Be an Employee Before a Boss

The easiest way to teach customer service is falling back on how you want to be treated yourself. I had a fair amount of experience, which is why Iíd tell prospective franchisees to work directly at a quick serve for a while.

If youíre at the corporate level, just because you eat quick serve doesnít mean you know how to run one, and you especially donít know how to deal with customers.

Thanks to a friend, I was able to work on the floor as a quick-serve employee and now can call on that experience when it comes to training my staff to implement the customer service I want in my stores.

When it comes to training, we do a lot and itís just as important as customer surveys. My employees know what I want because Iím not complacent when it comes to telling them. I neglected this in the beginning and it showed, but now itís a line of constant communication. Thatís important because customers are constantly alienated in todayís market and limited to what theyíre allowed to do. If youíre a business that doesnít restrict them from being a customer, youíre doing it right.

Pizza News

Don Bingham - Mike Kemp photos Logo

Russo's - Molto bene!

Don Bingham - Mike Kemp photos

July 21, 2014


Latest Italian eatery has value in Ewa Beach


July 9, 2014

Middleastexpat Logo

Russo's New York Pizzeria - Middleastexpat


March 30, 2014

Dubai Media Inc Logo

Anthony in the Studio One TV show - Dubai Meia

Dubai Media Inc

February 20, 2014 Logo

Deal or Dud - Air Fryer

February 19, 2014

FSR Magazine Logo

Making Brunch Profitable

FSR Magazine

February 10, 2014

Stephanie Silverstein, Reporter- Pacific Business News Logo

Russo's Coal-Fired Italian Kitchen Opening for Dinner Monday

Stephanie Silverstein, Reporter- Pacific Business News

January 27, 2014

Tulsa World Logo

Review : Russo's at Tuscany on Yale in Tulsa

Tulsa World

October 3, 2013

Abu Dhabi Week Logo

Slice of the Big Apple

Abu Dhabi Week

September 9, 2013

Chynna Foucek Logo

Restaurant Review: Russo's New York Pizzeria

Chynna Foucek

July 23, 2013

Houston Business Journal Logo

Face to Face with Anthony Russo of Russo's New York Pizzeria

Houston Business Journal

June 4, 2013

QSR Magazine Logo

One to Watch: Russo's New York Pizzeria

QSR Magazine

May 9, 2013

Gillian Duncan - The National UAE Logo

Texas-sized slice of New York for UAE

Gillian Duncan - The National UAE

April 5, 2013

Houston Chronicle Logo

So what's your favorite Houston pizza?

Houston Chronicle

March 21, 2013

PMQ Magazine Logo

Product Spotlight : Gluten-Free Sweets

PMQ Magazine

December 5, 2012

KHOU Great Day Houston Logo

Chef Anthony Russo Demonstrates How to Make Pumpkin Pizza

KHOU Great Day Houston

November 16, 2012

QSR Magazine Logo

Flex Casual: The Best of Both Worlds

QSR Magazine

November 16, 2012

Crain's New York Business Logo

Fro-yo, burger joints turn out for franchise expo

Crain's New York Business

November 16, 2012

Arkansas Business Logo

Group Opens Russo's : Little Rock or Jacksonville?

Arkansas Business

November 16, 2012

TradeArabia News Service Logo

Top US pizza brand debuts in UAE

TradeArabia News Service

August 31, 2012

Andy Scott - CPI Financial Logo

Russo's New York Pizzeria wants a pizza of the UAE action

Andy Scott - CPI Financial

August 31, 2012

Restaurant News Logo

Russoís Brand Celebrates 20 Years of Success

Restaurant News

August 26, 2012

Angie's Big Love of Food Logo

Russo's New York Pizzeria - Memphis, TN

Angie's Big Love of Food

May 17, 2012

QSR Magazine Logo

One to Watch: Russoís New York Pizzeria

QSR Magazine

May 2, 2012

Celiac Sprue Association Logo

Russoís New York Pizzeria earnes CSA Recognition Seal

Celiac Sprue Association

April 2, 2012

Grocery Headquarters Logo

Russoís New York Pizzeria Bites Into Gluten-Free Pizza Line

Grocery Headquarters

February 13, 2012 Logo

Russoís Has Appetite for Expansion

January 13, 2012

Nation's Restaurant News Logo

Flex-casual format gains popularity

Nation's Restaurant News

January 12, 2012

QSR Magazine Logo

Treat Customers Like Your Boss' Family

QSR Magazine

January 8, 2012

Pizza Today Logo

5 Questions with Chef Anthony Russo

Pizza Today

January 6, 2012

Houston Chronicle Logo

Brick ovens heat up franchise sales for restaurant

Houston Chronicle

January 2, 2012

Houston Press Logo

Can One Person Eat a 28-Inch Pizza In an Hour?

Houston Press

October 25, 2011

Ron Ruggless Logo

Q&A: Chef Anthony Russo

Ron Ruggless

August 20, 2011 Logo

Russo's Italian Kitchen Coming to Conway

August 8, 2011

Pizza Marketplace Logo

Bringing New York slices to Texas and beyond

Pizza Marketplace

July 25, 2011

Dallas Business Journal Logo

Russo's looks for Dallas expansion

Dallas Business Journal

July 20, 2011 Logo

US pizza firm eyes major Gulf region expansion

June 7, 2011

Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine Logo

Russo's New York Pizza Debuts in Dubai

Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine

June 7, 2011

Franchisee Satisfation Awards Logo

2011 Top Franchise - Russo's New York Pizzeria

Franchisee Satisfation Awards

April 13, 2011

Entrepreneur Magazine Logo

Russo's New York Pizzeria rated Top 2011 Franchise

Entrepreneur Magazine

April 7, 2011

Franchisee Satisfation Awards Logo

Franchisee Satisfation Awards - 2011 Honoree

Franchisee Satisfation Awards

March 23, 2011

TradeArabia News Service Logo

New York pizza firm for Gulfood Dubai

TradeArabia News Service

January 29, 2011

Jay Gambino Esparza Logo

I was in Texas eating a real NY pizza!

Jay Gambino Esparza

December 14, 2010

Marketing Successories Logo

Russoís New York Ready to Cover the World

Marketing Successories

April 12, 2010

Houston Chronicle Logo

Houston pizza goes to Las Vegas ó and China

Houston Chronicle

April 8, 2010

Chain Leader Logo

Russo's New York Pizza Honored by Rachel Ray

Chain Leader

March 10, 2010

QSR Magazine Logo

Russo's New York Pizzeria Owner To Visit U.A.E.

QSR Magazine

February 10, 2010

Click2Houston Logo

2009 Nominee... Best Pizza in Houston Contest


January 25, 2010

QSR Magazine Online Logo

Italian Concept Wants Healthy Hearts

QSR Magazine Online

January 20, 2010

Entrepreneur Magazine Logo

Entrepreneur Magazine Recognizes Russo's New York Pizzeria

Entrepreneur Magazine

January 8, 2010

Houston Community Newspapers Logo

Sienna couple open new Missouri City pizzeria

Houston Community Newspapers

November 3, 2009

Zagat Survey Logo

Dear Anthony,

Zagat Survey

October 27, 2009

Herald-Voice Logo

New York Pizzeria


October 27, 2009

Citysearch Logo

Best of Citysearch: Houston Restaurants


October 27, 2009

AOL CityGuide Logo

AOL Best Pizza 2007: New York Pizzeria

AOL CityGuide

October 27, 2009

U.S. Local Business Association Logo

2008 Houston Award - Best Pizza

U.S. Local Business Association

October 27, 2009

Cook's Tour: Alison Cook Logo

My Russo's Coal-Fired Pizza pix : Pure Torment

Cook's Tour: Alison Cook

August 19, 2008

Pizza Today Logo

Top 100 Pizza Companies 2008

Pizza Today

July 8, 2008