Service and the Art of Grilling

Holidays like Labor Day are excellent times to sharpen your grilling skills.  I am an avid steak griller.  When entertaining guests, it is important to begin the grilling process by gathering a bit of steak intelligence.  From rare to well done, guests differ in their steak partiality.  Some like their steaks marinated or highly seasoned.  Some want all the fat removed.  Some prefer their steak get to rest after cooking and before serving.

Steak presentation can be enhanced with searing the steak on a super-hot grill before the methodical cooking process begins.  I’m not a grill sissy who makes cooking decisions solely with a stop watch.  I prefer the art of reading the steak, carefully manipulating the grill temperature, and occasionally using a meat thermometer.  Forks are not allowed around a grill; only tongs to turn the steak without punching holes in it.

Customers like their service in as varied a ways as people like their steaks.  Some customers want raw service—no frills, minimal effort and with no extra coddling (like Amazon).  Some prefer a highly tailored experience with the rich interpersonal connection of a smoker filled with mesquite (like Nordstrom or Ritz-Carlton Hotels).  Some care more about the presentation than any other aspect of their service experience (like Trader Joe’s or Stew Leonard’s).  And, others want the basics done well and with a low investment (like Southwest Airlines or Costco).

Like steak grilling, it is important to first learn what customers prefer.  Assuming all customers are alike is a lot like assuming all Democrats are liberal or all millennials would rather text than talk.  Granted, segments have similarities.  But, as Mark Twain wisely said, “All generalizations are false, including this one!” If you are serving hundreds, thousands, or millions of customers, look for ways your customers can help you “cook” their service just like they want it.

© Chip Bell Group, 2023.  Courtesy of John R. Patterson (  Permission is given to download and distribute this article as long as it contains this copyright notice.