A restaurant is based on two main ideals: great food and great service. Without both, the enterprise could collapse. Hours if not days of testing, planning, and streamlining are dedicated to ensuring the restaurant has great food, but too many managers and owners don’t also put down a plan on how to foster great customer service. It is crucial to have a balance between the two.
Here are 7 things managers and owners can do to develop great hospitality and customer service.
1. Make a plan
Countless restaurants don’t have an employee handbook when it comes to customer service. Take the time to sit down and write out what good hospitality looks like for your restaurant. Be sure to set down goals, rules, service steps, and expectations. This will give your employees a clearer understanding of how they should interact with customers and what is expected of them. Make sure you have your own unique approach to fantastic service that sets you apart from the rest.
2. Write guidelines for each position
Once you have your over-arching plan, set down guidelines for each position. How should the hostess greet the guests? How should servers take orders and address guests? If the kitchen can be seen from the floor, how should the back of house act and dress? Writing down guidelines will help create a homogenous and holistic feeling for the customer, and not a disconnect between a smiling and kind wait staff with a busy and focused kitchen staff.
3. Follow the 10-5 rule
The 10-5 rule is quite simple. If a member of the staff is 10 feet away from a guest, be sure to smile and make eye contact. If the guest is passing the staff member is closer than 5 feet, the staff member should acknowledge them verbally, as in a “Hello” or “Good morning.” Making sure the guests feel seen and appreciated is the number one trait of a successful restaurant. Read more about the 6 Key Traits of A Successful Restaurant here.
4. Be sure employees have the tools they need
If part of your plan is always making sure there is creamer and jam on the table, be sure to have properly stocked front of house. Without the proper equipment or inventory they will be forced to cut corners. To read more about the front of house, read our article The Ins And Outs Of the Front Of House.
5. Lead by example
Hospitality requires constant coaching and guiding. The best way to do this is lead by example. When you are out on the floor always put your best foot forward and try to emulate exactly what you want your servers to do. If you see an employee being rude to a guest or cutting a corner, don’t berate them in front of guests. Remind them behind the counter or gently correct them. Fostering an atmosphere of kindness and generosity will inspire your employees to do the same.
6. Support your staff
Apart from being an inspiring leader, you should also support your staff. Properly stocking their workstations, scheduling them to the best of your ability (read our article on 6 Tips For Easier, More Effective Scheduling), and hearing their complaints will help them feel heard and appreciated. This in turn will inspire them to be more generous to the customers.
7. Motivate your staffCreate an employee incentive program. Have an “Employee of the Month” and be sure to add a prize to it to further motivate them. Develop a gift card sharing model with other local businesses to hand out to stellar employees at random. This will not only inspire employees to work harder and with kindness but also cultivate a community around your business.
Having a plan, guidelines, and motivations in place will create a fantastic environment for your restaurant. Your job as a manager or owner is to inspire your employees to be the best they can be. With inspired employees means better reviews, happier customers, and a growing bottom line.