Greet Your Table, Drive Your Sales
Maybe you’re a guest like me: I like to arrive on time. In fact I despise rushing, it bums me out. So I often find myself the first to arrive to restaurants when meeting friends and clients. On one hand it is nice having time to check my phone, get settled and invariably I like to start with a drink. Whether it is water, a cup of tea or a glass of wine I like to start out with a beverage and a greeting from my waiter. On the other hand, however, in my experience it very often takes 5-10 minutes for a waiter to acknowledge me as a guest.
I don’t know if it is because I am alone at the table but it always drives me nuts! I find that I either have to flag someone down or catch eyes with someone across a room to have a server come to the table. And this isn’t just about me. The restaurant is potentially losing a sale. The sooner the ordering process can begin the better it is for the bottom line of the restaurant. For instance: if I order a glass of wine and enjoy a portion of it while waiting I am quite likely to order another when my companions arrive or we place our order so I have a full glass on the table. No matter if it is wine or water, greeting the table and getting beverages to the table is a key factor in making sales.
When I was a young waitress I remember when I was inexperienced and feeling nervous “interrupting” a guest as they settled in or waited for the others. But I will never forget the manager I worked with who really made me understand that as a server I am in charge. The server is in charge of the guest’s experience and must control and guide the experience of the guest.
As a guest I know this to be true. Even if I only want tap water the very fact that someone acknowledges my presence (and in turn introduces himself as the person in charge of my table) is a key interaction: it is the first moment of communication and connection and it delivers the message “you can rely on me” to the guest. Trust is key in delivering great service and this first moment starts things off on the right (or wrong) note. “Does anyone notice me?” is not the way any guest should feel in your restaurant and you should not lose one sale due to a lost moment of connection
There is a universal credo in the restaurant business: greet your table in 1-2 minutes. We as guests know this to be true; this is one of the conventions in the customer service dance. As an owner or manager you must remember: service is the engine of sales. Without service there is no money to be made. The team and the servers need to hustle to make it happen; their job is to start the clock on the table’s service, start the engine of sales and move the service experience along for their guests.