Problem: I was recently promoted to restaurant manager and I love my new role, but in all honesty I'm dreading Christmas this year. Last year we were fully-booked. which was great for the business, but waiting staff had a really tough time getting the larger than normal orders out and trying to keep everyone happy. Now I'm the one who will be responsible for front-of-house, I'd love some advice on how best to manage my team so that they and the customers are kept happy over Christmas.
Solution: Christmas is a key time when customers dine with friends and family, therefore you want them to have good things to say about your business to ensure they come back and recommend you.
Meet and greet
As soon as customers’ enter an establishment they will instantly have an impression of the place. By ensuring you have a member of staff positioned near the entrance of your bar / restaurant greeting customers, this will ensure good first, and last, impressions. If a customer feels looked after from start to finish, they will more than likely only be left with good things to say.
Communicate with customers
Christmas is a busy period and while you don’t want customers having to wait, they don’t mind doing so. The most important tip about waiting times is being open with the customer, if there are any delays, make the customer aware as soon as you know.
When adding a customer to a waiting list, remind your staff to ask the customer if they would like to have a drink at the bar while waiting for their table. Not only does this make the wait a very small part of the experience, it also scores points with the customer from a hospitality standpoint and helps drive some additional revenue.
The cleanliness of your location will tell a customer everything they need to know about your products and standards in an instant. All bars and restaurants will no doubt have someone in charge of the cleanliness of the place, but it’s crucial this is kept on top of especially in busy periods.
Also, ensure glasses are clean and shiny. The presentation of the glasses drinks are served in tells a customer all they need to know about your hygiene standards. Water marks or streaks, lipstick marks and fibres from tea towels all impact the quality and perception your customers will have of their drinks.
Simple touches, like ensuring glasses are clean, giving them a quick run-through a glass rinser before pouring the drink will instantly make customers enjoy their experience.
Christmas is the time when new customers are most likely to visit a new location so creating a positive and lasting impression can set you up for the following year. Even if a minor error happens during an experience, this will be magnified if a place is untidy and dirty.
Check back with the customer
Check backs give you a great opportunity to show the customer you care about their experience and give you the chance to resolve any issues that arise.
In a busy location, check backs can be a challenge but one that must be taken head on.
When serving food, a check back should be made within two minutes of the food being served. This can allow you to address any potential issues with food quality. There’s nothing worse than someone waiting until the end of the meal to be asked for the first time if 'everything is ok'.
People come to restaurants to eat and enjoy food, therefore it’s essential the quality is up to standard. This doesn’t mean your restaurant needs to start serving Michelin-starred cuisine; it simply means don’t let food get served that you wouldn’t eat yourself.
You can enhance customers perceptions of value for money by ensuring food is always well presented on the plate and carefully placed in front of the customer.
Don’t let your customers sneak out without being able to say thank you and good bye to them. A friendly farewell will create a positive lasting impression of your location and shows you value their custom. This is vital when you have new or infrequent customers visiting during the festive period.