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10 Ways to Provide World Class Service

Hospitality is an art form practiced by the kind at heart; those willing to share a smile in an effort to improve a stranger’s day. Being hospitable is something anyone can work towards, but those that call it their profession can fine tune their skills to achieve something even greater. Although every server has their own unique style, the following is some universal advice which can help ensure good service, happy guests and returning business.

10 Ways to Provide World Class Service

1. Greetings

First impressions really can make or break a guest’s experience. Hospitality is, first and foremost, the friendly and generous reception of strangers. Greet every new face with a smile, with your attention and with a direction. No one likes to be ignored or confused about their next step. Guide them to the host, a menu, a table, or whatever they need.

One of my favorite coworkers used to greet everyone with “hello friend,” and without fail it put a smile on their face. I’ve carried that greeting with me for years and it never ceases to amaze me. You really can turn a person’s day around with the right kind gesture.

2. Names or Faces

There is no easier way to make someone feel welcomed than by using their name. While, remembering names is a skill that can and should be practiced, recognizing a face is even easier. If you can’t remember a name but know the face, you can still make someone feel welcome with the ever so simple, “welcome back.” Whether or not they think you know their name doesn’t matter, you’ve recognized their presence and made them feel welcomed and appreciated as a returning customer.

3. Engage

Giving guests your full attention brings life to your interactions with them. Eye contact and reciprocal conversation contribute greatly to the guest’s experience and how they will feel about you. You are there to facilitate an experience for a unique individual. Being engaged enough to pick up on their specific needs will allow you to adapt and tailor your service to them.

4. Know the Menu

Whether it be fine dining or casual, knowing your menu is paramount. Understanding each item on the menu will allow you to guide a curious or timid guest in the right direction. With full knowledge of the menu you will be able to prepare the guest for a unique version of Korean-style cross-cut short rib or that surprisingly spicy cocktail. By setting their expectations you gain more control over their reaction and experience.

5. Offer Honest Advice

Pushing the most expensive menu item never goes over well but honest recommendations of your favorites go a long way - even if some happen to be the more expensive options. The key to ensuring good reception of your advice is knowing your guest’s needs, which is why engaging each guest and learning their preferences is so important. Helping a guest expand their palate by giving them honest advice on items they might enjoy based on others they’ve had, is a sure fire way to earn their trust and appreciation.

6. Ask About Allergies

While it may be an unfortunate sign of a complicated culinary future, allergies should be a real concern of all food purveyors. As a server, you are the first line of protection for your guests and your place of employment. Asking each guest if they have any allergies might seem tedious but unfortunately, there are many people out there with deadly allergies that don’t think to mention them. Keeping vigilant is the only way to mitigate these dangers for both you and your guests. Although you’ll likely encounter more fake allergies and fad diet zealots than those with dangerous allergies, everyone should be treated equally to ensure the safest experience for your guests.

10 Ways to provide world class service

7. Bottom Third

How you interact with your guest’s dishes and glassware says a lot about how you value them. Keeping your fingers on the bottom third of a glass shows your respect for the drink and the one you are handing it to. Using that same method when removing empty glasses maintains your appearance of cleanliness and care, instilling confidence in your guest at every opportunity. The same goes for dishes and flatware; treating them with respect shows your dedication and increases the value of the service you are providing.

8. Be Efficient

A push can put you in the weeds at any time but only you can dig yourself out. Keeping your movements smart and efficient is the best way to ensure you spend more time with your guests and less time running around. Always have your hands full, don’t go anywhere without a purpose or a task. Fill waters while you take an order. Clear dishes after you drop off food. Run drinks on your way to the kitchen. Keep your movements focused and you’ll have no trouble giving your guests the time they need.

9. Friendly Pace

The saying “time is money,” is no better exemplified than in a restaurant. Finding a balance between providing relaxed, hospitable service and burning through tables is a difficult task. We all attempt to walk the line with our own style that allows for a steady flow of service without a guest feeling unwanted or rushed. How you do this will vary based on your restaurant’s style and the guests’ mood but to navigate properly, your best tool is a friendly approach. Never force anything or rush the guests, send food when it makes sense and make them feel prioritized. There are always outliers but if you control the flow of the meal and give it a hospitable pace, they’ll know when their experience is complete.

10 Ways to Provide World Class Service

10. Encourage a Return

New visitors are wonderful, but returning guests are a resource worth cultivating. Every guest you provide wonderful service to creates more potential for a return visit, return business and eventually creates restaurant loyalty. You can encourage return visits by offering insight in to future events, menu items and other insider info. A loyal group of friendly regulars is always a sign of good service. These invaluable guests spend more at your restaurant than others and generally act as advocates for your place as well. Great regulars bring in new guests, which are yet another opportunity for more business and more regulars.

This list could easily go on forever. How each tip is used will vary depending on your style but the prevailing essence is to use common sense. Your role is to be hospitable, so hospitable you should be. Welcome your guests, call them by name, treat them like a friend, educate them, be honest, keep them safe and make them feel comfortable. Do all these things and they’ll return; not just for the food but for your hospitality.

written by Alex Navarro