A welcoming "hi" presented with a warm smile and a presence that is on fire is needed when receiving new guests. Which components are needed to serve this simple, welcoming dish could vary depending on business model and access to ingredients. Our first tip refers to a customer's first impression. That, and much more below.
1. A genuine welcome
Hi there, and welcome to *restaurant*. My name is *name*, a table for…? Please, retire that phrase immediately. It's not an authentic way to welcoming a guest to your restaurant. It's time to evaluate and decide how you want your restaurant to be perceived by new visitors as well as returning guests.
Seven seconds. First impressions happen within seven seconds. Thus, within the first seven seconds of meeting with someone your guest will have a solid impression of who you are and what the restaurant is all about. So, instead of using a worn out and generic tagline, choose to invite the guests to your home, your fort.
What would you say instead?
2. Train your waitressing staff to sell every dish and combination of items
If you had to choose, which one would it be: "steak sandwich with aioli and arugula" or "freshly baked walnut bread, filled with organic, 24-hour marinated prime steak served with momma's homemade aioli and homegrown arugula".
It's pretty much the same sandwich. Or...is it?
This is applicable to your entire assortment - even beverages and wine! The difference from one bottle to another could make the entire difference. With simple means you can train your waitressing staff to sell every dish and combination on your menu. Your staff will see this as an investment in their personal development and knowledge about food and wine. This way, they will be able to improve dialogues with customers, which in turn will experience them as knowledgeable and reliable.
It's said that this can help improve sales by 20–30%.
Teach your staff to answer easy questions
- Is it possible to adjust an order? Can I exchange carrots for potatoes?
- Are there any gluten free options? Lactose free?
- Which vegetarian option is the best? Do you have any vegan dishes?
- Which wine goes with this fish dish? The pasta?
- Alcohol free alternatives? Which one should I choose?
The questions are many. Maybe there are specific ones at your restaurant? Take a few minutes and think about it.
3. Transfer tabs, take payment at table, and split checks
Being on time is being late. There are many guests that live by this rule and show up early for everything. Only to be on their time. Early, for others. Two glasses of wine, and a coke at the bar before the table is ready. Make sure your customer can transfer the tab to the table. It makes a huge difference in boosting the customer experience. It's simple. To be able to do this, you need to invest in a POS system with this type of functionality.
The entire experience, starting at the bar, to dinner including starters, main courses, desserts and coffee needs to be seamless. The starters are served long before the guest start looking for a member of the staff, and so is the main course. The desserts put the cherries on top, and the coffee is made to perfection. Everything is satisfactory.
Not until then, it's time to pay for the wine consumed at the bar.
Give your staff the very best prerequisites and tools to offer great service to all guests. Reduce the amount of running back and forth to the cash register and allow them to stay at the table until the transaction is completed, and your waitressing staff has made sure the customer is satisfied with their visit.
Integrated payment terminals
By using the integrated payment terminals, you're doing everyone a favor. The staff can bring the terminals to the table and have a conversation with the guest while the payment is going through. Additionally, the waitressing staff can print the final receipt while remaining at the table.
Do they wish to split the check? No problem. Since the payment terminals are integrated with your POS system, one can split checks between several debit/credit cards and print receipts without ever leaving the table.
Make it simple.
4. Take good care of the kids!
This might not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, happy kids equal happy parents.
In an interview with the Swedish TV channel SVT (2017) one of Sweden's most famous chefs, Paul Svensson, whom has three kids himself says:
It’s important for kids to learn to go to restaurants, it's truly a social experiment. I think they should be able to walk about, but at the same time behave appropriately. I'm positive to parents bringing their kids to restaurants.
Bringing children (of all ages) to a restaurant is something many parents fear. How on earth is it possible to enjouy dinner when you have to keep an eye (maybe even both) on your kids? A few simple tricks may help these parents to enjoy their visit at a restaurant, even when they bring the little hooligans.
Here is what you as a restauranteur can do to help:
- Make sure there is something on the table for the kids to focus on. This could be food, but it can also be crayons and something to draw on.
- Sippy cups or plastic mugs! Don't force a parent of a two-year-old to help the child drink out of a regular glass. Plastic cups with a lid will win this fight. Every. Single. Time!
- Offer parents of small children highchairs. Make sure the kids can reach the table. This leads to less cleaning for the waitressing staff.
- Snacks. Some kids are really picky with food, or struggle to eat. Crackers, cereal or pasta shaped as airplanes usually works with most kids. Ensure that your able to provide stressed put parents with some options.
The little things will go along way and help parents relax, which will make them come back.
5. Thank your guests for coming and show them your appreciation
Just as your guests are welcomed, there will be a farewell. Prepare carefully, but don't make it sound forced. Speak from your heart.
Ask for feedback and thank them for choosing to dine with you. Let them know that you look forward for their return. Be genuine. Using generic phrases could have the opposite effect.
- Leave a couple of pralines or chocolates with the receipt
- Share the recipe of your signature sauce or dish
- Discount on the next visit to use within a date range
When it comes to hospitality and service, it's easy to end up in trained patterns. How you receive and thank the customers, how you maximize their experience. Because that's what it's all about in the end. Customer experience = your staff, food and restaurant. It goes without saying, but there is a bigger chance that the guests will return if they have a good experience the first time.
Read more about five global restaurant trends you can’t ignore. Click here, or below to download.