Lookin' Good at 58

Friday, September 26, 2008

The First Thing You Should Do Upon Greeting a Guest

Yesterday I was back at work for my start at 3:15.I always go way early when I have to open and since I was off for 3 days I thought I would head out to be there for 2:30.One thing I hate is to have to rush to get everything done then the first customer is walking through the door.If the restaurant is opening at 4 then I want to be ready at 3:45.

Just when I was almost done a new waiter came in who is going through the training process.
That's when I found out we were doing a reverse shadow.In other words he would take the order and I critique him. To be honest , I have never felt comfortable about training anyone because it just upsets my rhythm a bit. It's similar to talking out loud when reading a book. You notice it is just faster if you read the book to yourself. However training done this way ensures any bad habits are snuffed out immediately and the new person feels confident that if there is something that comes up and needs to ask a question you are right there.

So we start off with a 5 table section and I begin just so that he can relax a bit and observe. During the evening , the manager then gives him a small section so he can gain some experience on his own. In fact it was one table , but he did it from start to finish so that was a feather in his cap.

But he remarked something that a waiter or bartender can forget very quickly. He said that my approach to the guest was different from the other waiters. You see where I work as with other establishments the waiter is supposed to go over to the table and introduce themselves then ramble through the specials , ask for the drink order , get it then take the order and try to upsell on top of it. The guest has hardly had time to sit and open the menu before they are bombarded by the waiter.

Here is what I do. I go over and make eye contact , smile , and say something like " How are you doing this evening?" This happens to break the ice with the guest and since you have expressed a sincere introduction they will reply with 99% of the time with a positive reply. What this does is start the dining experience off on a plus. If it is a nice day then I mention it as well. This all takes less than 45 seconds. Then after the guest has spoke then you can mention the special.

Also by listening to them not only have you not come across as a salesman , (people hate salespeople I have found) , but you have an idea of how your guest is feeling , whether they want to be hurried or want to eat slowly. Whether they have had a rough day or a good day. In most cases too, people who eat out with others the last thing they want to hear is a rambling of the mouth from a waiter.

So my recommendation is when you go to a table or greet someone at the bar for the first time take a few seconds to listen to them by asking an open ended question like how was their day.

That time you took to listen to them will make their meal taste better and you will have done your job befriending them. Probably more than anyone else did that day!

Besides your tip average will go up a few percentage points as well which is always a good thing.


Ex-Restaurant Manager said...

Back in my server days, I really thought those scripted greetings were cheesy. I did it my way, like you do. Kinda like my stab at the establishment, but it worked well with the customers.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

ex-restaurant manager...Absolutely it is what I like to say is the personal touch.Nothing really goes wrong after that.They will order what they want anyway.

Dave Thompson said...

These are great tips for being an awesome waiter, or waitress. Totally agree that most waiters try to upsell you the moment you walk through the door. I am more likely to buy something more than normal if I have time to look at everything in the menu first. If more waiters were like you they would end up selling more. http://www.topserveconsulting.com/waiter-training/

Steven Nicolle said...

Thanks Dave for your comment. Happy Easter!