It is absolutely no use your chefs providing a fantastic plate of food if your Front of House staff cannot deliver good customer service. Poor front of house service continues to affect restaurants and food service venues across the country …..why?
Why do chefs, restaurant owners and managers continue to accept poor service from their front of house staff? Poor front of house service will put your business on ‘the skids’ it will lose you your reputation and your customers, and could ultimately lose you your business.
We know from our own experience that it is not always easy keeping an eye on your front of house staff when you are busy in the kitchen, so training, protocol, procedures and rules are the key. Make sure your staff are trained in the basics of front of house protocol, and customer service. If you are not able to do this there are several companies who can do this for you. The cost benefit can be enormous! Good front of house service and management will make the difference between you being fully booked or empty.
Meeting & Greeting your customers is vital. Always make sure that your front of house staff greet every person who comes through the door with a smile and a simple greeting ie: good afternoon sir, have you booked a table, good afternoon sir, please take a seat and I will be with you shortly, a greeting as simple as that shows the customer you they are aware of him and he isn’t left standing around waiting. If for some reason, your staff do not get to serve him as quickly as he they anticipated, they should let him know they are still aware of him. I’m sorry to keep you sir I shall be with you shortly, offer him a drink and then ask the bar staff to take it to his table. Apologise when he is eventually served and make him feel important. Make him feel welcome the minute he comes through the door!!
Taking orders and knowing the menu is crucial. When a customer has their order taken, they like to know what they are getting and if they order a specific dish which might be a little out of the ordinary, they are likely to ask what it is. Your front of house staff MUST know this. If can be very off putting for customers to sit and wait whilst the waiter trots back to the kitchen to find out what is in the dish. This isn’t always down to food preference either, it could be down to dietary requirements, ie: does the sauce contain butter because I am allergic to butter?. Your front of house staff must know the menu, know the specials and they must know exactly how many of a particular item you have left. There is nothing worse than a waiter taking an order for say.. Rump Steak only to find out that Rump Steak has sold out and he then has to advise the customer it is ‘off’. A short meeting between front of house and kitchen staff at the beginning of every service is a must. Questions such as , can I serve this without sauce if anyone asks? if someone wants salad rather than chips with their meal do we have it? How many Rump Steaks do we have?
Overbooking is a no no. The chef will know how many bookings are in and be able to gauge how many ‘walk ins’ there are likely to be. So.. based on this, the veg will be prepared to deal with these numbers and a few more for good measure. The meats will have been ordered in line with expected usage and ‘best sellers’ etc, So on the occasion that suddenly you have an influx of ‘walk ins’ if you realistically cannot cope with them you MUST turn them away. Your front of house staff must be aware that to continue to allow people in and sit them in a corner until a table is vacant, putting unnecessary pressure on a busy kitchen, and allowing them to wait well over time until they sit down only to be advise half of the menu is ‘off’ will cause untold damage to your reputation. The comments will start coming… “I went in there and had to wait for an hour for a table and then, there was next to nothing left on the menu” DAMAGE! However… by simply saying “I’m really sorry Sir we are fully booked tonight, can I book you in for another night this week, or perhaps next Saturday, as you can see we do get booked up” so come the following Saturday there will be far more bookings, fewer walk ins and so it goes on and the comments will then be “I couldn’t get in last Saturday so had to book for this Saturday and it was packed, I’m so pleased I booked” GOOD.. Don’t get greedy!!
Check backs are good, but make sure you only check back once possibly twice, if your staff continue to check back, the customers may find something to complain about, and they may also think that there is nothing else for them to do! Don’t check back too often.
Goodbye to the customers is as important as the greeting. Make sure your front of house staff thank the customer for coming, perhaps a little light hearted banter which will again make them feel as though the experience of your restaurant has been worthwhile. Ask them if they require a taxi and provide them with a number or offer to call one for them. The final impression is as important as the first impression, and your front of house staff must make sure they leave with a good one!.
I hope these few hints have helped, if you would like to know more about the Hospitality Consultancy services we provide or if you think you need a little bit of extra help putting front of house procedures and protocols in place whilst you are busy in your kitchen creating gastronomic delights , we will be happy to help you. We can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org or through our web site www.bitestobanquets.co.uk