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Restaurant Training – Waiter & Waitress Training Tips For Customer Service – Hospitality Education
Did you know that about 14 percent of your customers will not return to your business because of the quality of the food and 68 percent because of the quality of the service? So, doesn’t it make sense to train your waiters and waitresses to provide superior service to win back your customers every time?
To gain the competitive edge today, you have to do a lot more to get your restaurant on the “favorites” list. One way is to customize the service for each type of customer that comes to your business. For example, the sales and service techniques employed for a family with children are different from those to be provided to elderly customers. The same goes for business customers versus vacationers. It is never safe to think that your restaurant service staff will inherently understand these differences. Unless they are trained, they are more likely to offer one size fits all services.
Teach your servers and waiters to be attentive and follow the tips below to help you assess the needs of your customers:
• Time limitation (pleasant or limited time)
•Mood (celebratory, romantic, stressed)
• Age range (children, teenagers, baby boomers, elderly, geriatrics)
• Purpose for your visit (social, private / intimate, or business)
• Gender (male, female)
Since about 80 percent of communication is conveyed through facial gestures and verbal and non-verbal body language, as opposed to actual words, teach your service team to focus on the following areas:
• Verbal language (tone of voice, rhythm, inflection, speech, pronunciation, and grammar)
• Body language (eye contact, facial expressions, gestures and movement)
Look for signs of a customer in a hurry, such as looking at their gaze, looking around or rubber necking, talking quickly, crossing their arms, or tapping their fingers. Also, carefully observe the image of your customers (eg clothes, accessories, hair, makeup, etc.). This can also provide a lot of clues about their meal needs.
Here’s an exercise to share with your service team. It lists different types of customers and ways to customize the service for each category of customers. During a pre-shift meeting or company training session, review this exercise with your restaurant service staff.
Types of Clients and Service Suggestions:
1. The party
-Since celebration customers usually have a bigger budget, I suggest higher priced items with party food/drinks and a cake to recognize the occasion
-Congratulate the celebrating client and focus on their main event
-Be social, unless you are serving a couple who desires privacy
-Since many elderly customers have limited income, steer them toward value-oriented foods and recommend light, sweet, and less spicy foods.
– Be patient and speak slowly, project your voice, and listen carefully
-Abstain from acts that can be interpreted as condescending or treating them like children
3. Family (with children)
– Offers high chairs and booster seats
– Be prepared to make kid-friendly suggestions and easy-to-eat finger foods
– Offer something to occupy the child’s attention (playbooks, crayons, crackers)
-Be patient while ordering the family and give the children the opportunity to make their order
-Sincerely compliment the client on their children
-Ask the child questions to the children
-Place drinks where spills are less likely and remove obstacles (eg vases and centerpieces)
– Quickly clean up spills and keep the area tidy
– Delivery of extra towels
4. Romantic Couple
-Guide the couple to a booth or secluded area for privacy when they sit down
– Suggest higher priced items with wines, champagne and exotic desserts, as romantic couples and people on first dates usually have a bigger budget.
– Provide a highly organized and efficient service
-Minimize your conversation and allow them privacy, without hovering over them
– Suggest higher priced items, since many business people have business accounts and set allowances
-Suggest items that are prepared quickly and inform them if their chosen order requires a long preparation, if they are in a business lunch
– Provide a highly organized and efficient service and ensure that their order is delivered promptly
-Minimize your conversation and allow them privacy without hovering over them
Please Note: When serving alcohol, train your staff to be aware of the signs of intoxication and avoid overselling alcohol. Teach your staff to refuse the sale of alcohol to any minor.
Other types of customers include customers who dine alone (the solo customer), disabled customers, teenage like customers, customers who are on the go, first-time customers, and customers who dine in in large groups/meetings. Again, each type of customer needs “specific” service. Along with recognizing the category that customers belong to, the above service suggestions are intended as recommendations and are not set in stone. Always, be sure to fully assess each dining customer, closely observing verbal and body language to determine how to positively interact with them. Mike Owens, General Manager of Brick Oven LLC, located in Topeka, Kansas, says: “Using the above examples in role play scenarios is a very effective method to properly train your service teams… it helps them understand fully understand the importance of tailoring their service versus providing the same canned service to everyone.”
The “service” is not only about providing food and drinks to the table, but giving the customer much more than what he expects. Implementing a solid training program that focuses on personalized service will set you apart from your competitors. Exceeding each customer’s needs with personalized service takes a little extra time. However, it is worth the effort. When the customer wins, everyone wins and it’s a triple play—more money for you, increased tips for your service staff, and happy customers who become loyal patrons and refer their friends to your business.
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