Every restaurateur wants to provide guests with the best possible dining experience. That includes all aspects of the meal. Here are six simple ways to drastically improve the guest experience at your restaurant:
Each employee personifies your brand to diners. That is why it's imperative that all employees receive proper training on the importance of customer care. Staff members should be trained to pay attention to little things. They should look customers in the eye, avoid referring to guests as “you guys,” and smile while greeting guests as they arrive. These things may not seem like a big deal, but smiling and eye contact generate positive feelings like respect, trust, and support. Managers should pay close attention to how each staff member interacts with guests and make a point of reiterating certain customer care objectives during pre-shift meetings.
The best servers recognize guest needs before they ask for them. Even during a rush, servers should learn to anticipate requests. The best service often goes unnoticed. According to Matthew Greenberg, a former maitre'd at 2-star Michelin restaurant Melisse, "...anticipating your guests' needs is the difference between good service and great service (FSR Magazine)." Bringing extra napkins or promptly refilling water glasses are habits that require only a general level of attentiveness, but they can vastly improve the guest experience. When your staff is attentive to guests' needs, guests can focus on the food rather than tracking down the server.
This goes deeper than clean glasses and silverware in each place-setting. When the bathroom is dirty or fingerprints are left on the windows, it sends the wrong message to guests. If the restaurant doesn’t pay attention to all aspects of their building's general cleanliness, what does that say to guests about the kitchen area and the staff? According to a study conducted by Technomic, many diners rank the cleanliness of a restaurant as important as the taste and quality of the food.
Guests who choose to wait for a table are dedicated to dining with you and clearly value your food and service. Show them that you appreciate their loyalty by finding little ways to make their wait more comfortable. Seating should be available in the waiting area. While there, update guests on the status of their table. Consider having the hostess take drink orders while guests are waiting and provide complimentary water in the waiting area.
Timing is an important factor in creating an exceptional dining experience. Guests should be greeted by their server and be able to place drink orders within minutes of being seated. If one guest in a party orders soup or salad, make sure your server knows if they'd like it before or with their main course. If a party orders appetizers, hold their main courses so they have time to enjoy the pre-course dish. Make sure everyone in the party receives their main course at the same time.
Making it easy for guests to split the bill can eliminate a lot of the issues that can complicate the payment process. Your restaurant should have a system in place that makes it easy for servers to split checks on different cards, by seat number, or by individual item. A payment system that makes it easy to split checks will not only improve the guest experience but also improve server efficiency and table turn times.
With everything on your plate as a restaurant owner or manager, it's easy for the little things to fall off the priority list. This whole industry, however, comes down to the guest experience. Delighted customers become repeat customers willing to spread the word about your business. You can't afford to not focus on the little things when it comes to making a big impact with guests.