As we enter a New Year, allow me my two cents on the current state of our Hospitality sector. A sector, might I add, that our economy relies almost completely upon. In my opinion the only thing as important as the food at restaurant is the service, I'm not alone in this either, according to a Gallup study reported in 2011, when eating out, customers seek not just great food, but an all around experience that leaves them feeling great.
To some of us this might seem like a “Duh” statement, but then you go to a restaurant and a sulky “waitress” with a massive chip on her shoulder, and half her rear hanging out of her jeans, reminds you with her indifference and incompetence why you stopped eating at that restaurant in the first place. It’s not enough to serve good food, the customer experience and the feelings created are of utmost importance. Being valued and appreciated as a customer will engender in your customers a strong positive emotional attachment to your place of business. Word of mouth is a powerful thing, and trust me when I say that people love to complain about bad service, and good food seldom makes up for bad service, but excellent service can make up for that overcooked Snapper.
Many of the suggestion may seem obvious, especially to all the really great servers, but I know from personal experience that many, many servers either are completely unaware of these pretty basic customer expectations, not necessarily because they don’t want to be, but perhaps because they lack the proper training. Now far be it from me to tell anyone what to do, but in general Happier customers leave bigger tips. Just Sayin'.
The following are 9 Basic Customer Expectations for a Great Restaurant Server.
Smile: A simple genuine smile can accomplish a multitude of things, Smiling reduces stress, lowers your heart rate, boosts your Immune system, increases productivity , encourages trust, makes you seem younger, confident and more attractive, and best of all smiling is pretty contagious, spreading the benefits and good feelings to everyone around you, especially your valued customers.
Dress appropriately: It is generally the employers job to establish and enforce the dress codes and all around cleanliness, not just in clothing, but also in hair, makeup and accessories. That said, even if your employer is real “casual”, keep in mind that how you present yourself will likely reflect how the customer feels about the establishment as a whole and will certainly effect your potential tip.
Maintain a professional attitude: A customer is not your “Honey”, “Sweetness” or “Baby” or any other overly friendly term of endearment. And even if they are one of those things, maintaining a consistent attitude with all your customers ensures that no one feels as if other customers are being treated better then they are. A sure way to make your customers feel like they are eating at the wrong place is to treat other customers with obvious preference.
Look the customers in the eye and Greet them promptly: Maintaining eye contact is key to developing trust with the customer, no one wants someone shifty handling their food.
Anticipate customer needs: If I order a steak, I’ll expect a steak knife, if I’m eating finger food, I’ll expect extra napkins or finger bowls. The ability to be empathetic to your customers is what separates great servers from mediocre ones and big tips from little ones.
Know the Menu: “What’s in the Mondongo Soup?” A knowledge of what you are serving is crucial to your ability to competently enlighten your customers as to what they are going to get. Never tell a guest that you do not eat the food on the menu, even if you do not. You should have enough knowledge of the menu to educated suggestions. You are not there just to carry plates, engage the guest and make additional suggestions that you think they may appreciate.
Be available: You don't have to go to table every 5 minutes, but by being visible and available, you give the customer the feeling that should they need anything, it will be taken care of promptly. Evoking a feeling of confidence in the wait staff.
Do not clear the table until everyone is finished eating, unless the guest asks you to, and do not rudely interrupt your guests conversation to remove their plate. Wait and come back when the moment is appropriate.
Do not assume the man will pay and do not bring the check to the table until the customer requests it. Give the check to whomever requested it. Dropping the check at a table that hasn't requested it, is a sure way to make your customers feel unappreciated and unwanted. We all know table turnover is important, but like I said before, people love to complain about bad service.