Today’s blog is based on the fantastic learning library at Service That Sells. This trove of online training resources is one of the best places you can visit to help develop the service, sales, and management skills of you and your employees. Visit their site to learn more about the Cycle of Service workshops. While this series is directed specifically at restaurants, the information is applicable to any business, so please take the time to consider these points even if you’re in a different industry.
Second in The Cycle of Service is “Greeting and Seating”. There are several important key points that are explained in the video embedded in the aforementioned webpage, so let’s cover those concepts in detail here.
As the previous blog mentioned, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. A large part of this is customer expectation: is this the guest’s first visit? He may know your establishment by reputation only (from friends or online), or maybe from your promotional material. If he’s visited before, he’s going to expect this experience to be as good—if not better—than last time. Delivering your best effort is an everyday challenge!
Critical to setting the right tone starts with the host, the person guests are most likely to come meet first (and see last as they leave). Whether this is in-person or over-the-phone, the host has a tremendous opportunity to create a positive impression and set the expectations for exceptional service.
Being the host is a big responsibility. Great hosts make the process of locating and assigning diners’ seats look effortless, but it’s much trickier than most know. Balancing server load as well as being mindful of what the back-of-house needs all play a part, but so too does managing your guests’ expectations. Accurate waiting time quotes are critical. If your establishment has a waiting area like a bar, then you have a great opportunity to give guests something to do while they wait.
Just as important is gauging what needs your guests have: small children will likely need booster seats and crayons; guests who use wheelchairs will need a table that can accommodate them; and large parties that are likely to be raucous should be seated in the nook or side room (i.e. out of the way) if your establishment has one. Anticipating solutions before concerns transform into problems will not only satisfy your guests, it’ll you’re your co-worker’s best friend.
Hosts have a chance to bookend these visits as well, given that guests usually pass them on the way out. Ask how the guests enjoyed their meals, or what their favorite part was. Invite them to return. If your job as host is to be the cashier, make sure you glance at the ticket so that you can even ask specific questions like, “How was your beef wellington?” or “What did you think of the house wine?”
So while all employees must ensure guest satisfaction and promote customer loyalty, this all starts with the host. No matter how good the service is otherwise or how tasty the food is, a poor introduction (or conclusion) can spoil everything else.
Be sure to check out Service That Sells to learn more about these workshops, and stay tuned to us at The Brandt Group as we continue our overview of The Cycle of Service. Want to learn more about being the first point-of-contact for your business, including how to set expectations and anticipate needs? We offer everything from secret shopping to training seminars. By learning the right skills and getting an independent set of eyes on your process, you’ll prime yourself and your business for continued success and growth. Click here to learn more.