5 Things to Improve Your Service Right Now
Summer is the time when things ramp up and get busy, seemingly overnight. Guests descend on your restaurant, hungry and looking for a great experience and your service team starts running. Action can be a good thing, but you must ensure that your team is still delivering on the service experience your guests expect.
Here are 5 things you can share with your team members so they make service a priority:
1. Eye Contact. Looking your guests in the eye demonstrates 2 things: you’re listening and you’re trustworthy. Everyone wants to be heard so looking at your guest when he arrives or sits at the table assures him that you hear his requests and see him as an individual. This serves to build trust in the long run which will go a long way in generating sales at the table and building your guest into a repeat customer.
2. Repeat Back. Restaurants are busy and loud so when you repeat back a request, you are able to limit anxiety in your guest. This works at the front door (“we’ll have your table for 5 ready in two minutes, Ms. Chin”) and at the table when taking an order (“you’ll have two house salads followed by one salmon cooked well and the brick chicken with fries instead of mash, correct?”). Remember: people are more anxious when they’re hungry, so our job is to reassure them and help them see that we have their best interests at heart.
3. Check In. Nothing says “I care” like a check in at the table or with guests who are waiting. It demonstrates that you’re in control and know what is happening with the people in your restaurant. When you check in at the table, make sure you follow up on the guest experience specifically (“how do you like the hibiscus martini?”) and at the front door offer a status (“I see your party has all arrived and I’m getting your table set right now.”) This shows you’re ahead of the game and are interested in the customer experience.
4. Look Around. Something I often see is servers who do only one task on each trip into their station. They hustle back and forth but are not efficient with their time. If you’re in your station, look around and see what can be done at that moment. Use a tray and pick up glasses or bottles from neighboring tables. Check in with anyone who has almost finished a drink to see if you can get another and then go pick up multiple orders at the bar. Look and see if anyone needs additional silver or a fresh napkin then return with everything you need. This will maximize your time in your station so you can minimize your trips out of it.
5. Take a Breath. Yes, you, take a breath! When it’s busy, we forget to breathe and take a moment to center ourselves. One breath is all it takes to restore our energy, get grounded and mentally prepare for the next thing. Then you’ll feel ready to work and can dive headfirst back into the action.
Share these 5 tips at your pre-service meetings or at your next manager meeting. Service is the #1 thing that will bring customers back so harness it to improve the guest experience and impact the bottom line.
We’d love to hear about how you improve your service, share your service hacks in the comments below!