There are so many benefits for your restaurant sales and reputation when excellent service becomes a priority. We’ve broken down our top tips for excellent service that will be sure to have guests coming back more than once and leaving positive reviews both by word of mouth and on social media and review sites. Making a lasting impression will boost your restaurant and make it the place people want to go back to.

1. Greet Your Table in 2 Minutes

It doesn’t matter how busy you are. If you’re not there to greet your table in the first 2 minutes with a smiling face, even if it’s to let them know you’ll be with them shortly, you’re leaving a bad impression. When guests go out to eat they’re putting trust in their service workers that they will eat at the pace they’d like to and have an experience that is positive. Gaining or losing trust happens fast in the service industry. You could be the best server, but if you’re not communicating in some way that you’re busy, they’ll make assumptions and you never want your guests to make assumptions.

2. Don’t Explain to Your Table How Busy You Are

Here’s the thing– you want your guests to believe you are busy but saying it out loud is an absolute no-no. It’s like a relationship. If you told your significant other you were too busy for them, you might be told to shut the door on the way out and never come back. Every guest in your restaurant should feel like the most important person in the whole restaurant. What to do instead? Communicate. Let your guest know you’re sorry for the slower than normal service and that you’ll be with them or get their food out as soon as possible. When you walk by, don’t avoid eye contact. Let them know you’re number one priority is their experience.

3. Know the Reason for the Dining Experience

It starts with understanding your restaurant’s location. Are you near the theatre district? A music hall? A sports arena? Hospitals? If your restaurant is located in a place where there is a lot of traffic coming for a specific attraction that may require time restraints on eating, be sure to take that into account. Greeting your table and asking if there are any time restraints is a wonderful way to get a feel for if they are in a rush or ready to settle in for a long night. A great way question to ask is, “Anything special you’re celebrating tonight?” If not, a typical response may be, “No, just going to see the show at 6 pm tonight!” This is a perfect set-up for you to delight your guests. “Perfect, I’ll make sure that you’re done eating with plenty of time to get to your seats.” This will make your guests feel like they’re getting special service, and that’s how we want every patron to feel.

Use your judgment to understand how often to check back in with the table. If it’s for a show or something with time restraints, check in more often. When people are in a rush they can tend to get nervous or anxious and even if they’re not finished with their food, they may want to pay up and be able to scoot out. Plus you never know when you’ll be triple sat and not be able to attend to your show-goers right away. A perfect solution here is Table Needs. We take the guesswork out of when your customers want (and need) to order, re-order, and pay.

Business meetings, dates, and large family gatherings may be examples of parties that don’t want to be interrupted as much as they are trying to work, catch up, or get to know each other.

4. Know and Adore the Menu

When your guests are ordering, this is when you switch into sale-mode. You want to sell your guests that they’re about to have a delicious meal. Avoid the word, “good,” when describing something on your menu. Be proud of what you offer. Even if you don’t like something, you can find a kind way to say it. “I’m not a fan of the Lobster Ravioli. It is a bit spicy and I don’t love spicy food. If you love spicy food, you might enjoy it. It’s popular for the other servers!” Use descriptive words to the point that even you’re drooling. “The gnocchi carbonara is so delicious. The gnocchi are like clouds and practically melt in your mouth. The carbonara is 100% made from scratch. You can slightly taste the garlic that compliments the crisp bacon in the cheesy sauce so well.”

Knowing the menu also builds trust with your guests. Have a few recommendations on hand, but be sure to mention that it’s not for everybody. A carbonara sauce isn’t the best recommendation for someone who is lactose intolerant. Therefore add the “if” statement to your recommendation. “You’ll love carbonara if you’re a big fan of cheese and a richer meal. If it isn’t your favorite, the bolognese pappardelle is my second favorite. It’s light but still hearty and melts in your mouth with every bite.”

If you’re still learning the menu, be honest. Guests can know if you’re unsure of what you’re saying. Don’t be embarrassed. A great tip is to say, “You know, I’m still learning the menu to be honest, or, “You know, I’ve never actually gotten to try that yet, it’s next on my list.” Let your guests know you’ll find a fellow server that has tried it. This not only shows confidence, but it shows that the restaurant uses teamwork. Bonus points for you for going out of your way to get them the information they’re looking for, too.

5. Greet and Send a Warm Farewell to Your Guests

When you first greet your table, this is your chance to shine and make a positive first impression. In the moment you approach your table, forget how busy you are and anything else that may be going on around you. Make eye contact with your guests, and shine them a smile with a warm hello. Make sure to introduce yourself and give a pause after doing so. A great tip is to pretend as though at the end of this meal, they will be your friends. Therefore, you want them to remember your name. You want them to feel that you’re someone they can come back to. This is how you get returning guests.

Another rule of thumb is to not let your guests leave without thanking them and wishing them a warm farewell. Even if your table has paid and have been sitting for a while, when they get up to leave, thank them. You want to leave a lasting impression, and to do so you need to follow the dining experience all the way through. “Hope to see you again! My name was [your name], you can ask for me next time.” This let’s the guests know they are special and that they have a new friend and a new place to come and feel welcomed every time.

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