Restaurant Customer Service

restaurant customer serviceWhat does standard mean?
Establishing practices or procedures in your restaurant

What does above standard mean?
To go over and above your restaurant’s policy and procedural standards: bring it to the next tier of excellence. Do what you have to do to provide WOW restaurant customer service.

Believe me, managing restaurants are one of the toughest businesses to be in. Think of it as a well-oiled machine, if the oil dries up the machine begins to slow down and eventually stops to a halt. In the restaurant business management needs to drive the crew to perform to the established restaurant standards.

The real goal should be to instruct your managers and employees the significance of performing above standards. Your restaurant needs to be the number 1 restaurant within your area. Repeat business is earned through above average WOW restaurant customer service and great tasting food and beverages served fast.

I am going to write about my adventure during the month of June 2016. I am a restaurant consultant based in Pennsylvania. I teach restaurant owners and managers to do the right things for the right reasons.

If you are a restaurant owner, you probably spent a small fortune in manager and employee training for your business, if not you should. You would hope that when you are not in your restaurant that your employees are applying what they were trained in and that your management staff takes personal ownership as if they were the owners. That’s not always the case.

I frequent restaurant in Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida, not just to eat but rather critique the service and food.

A few of the restaurants did not pass my restaurant customer service test.

Red Lobster Naples Florida
Big name restaurants invest large amounts of money in training. Sometimes the training breaks down for various reasons:

  • Restaurant customer service
  •  Lack of quality training
  •  Lack of supervision
  •  Poor management
  •  Hiring on the fly to fill in an open position and then pushing the employee through the training process.
  •  Accountability

As my family and I arrived at this particular restaurant we were met with a hostess who locked eyes with each and every one of us, she did not say a single word to us, she did not acknowledge us. She walked away. Five minutes went by and still she was nowhere to be found.

I flagged down a bartender and explained the situation to her, she immediately apologized and found someone to greet and seat us. Soon after the manager arrived at our table to apologize she offered free appetizers. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to offer me free food.

That was not the fix that I was looking for. I gave my business card to the manager and further explained that I teach restaurant customer service to both managers and employees. What I told her was that the greeter should have immediately greeted us with a warm and friendly smile, not just walk away. Furthermore, I explained that the greeting process is the first impression in the guest’s mind.

If we neglect to fulfill this first impression, repeat business is in jeopardy. Just because this particular restaurant is a big name restaurant sales may decline due to poor restaurant customer service and poor management.

I did not see the manager approached the employee during my visit to correct her. All I saw is that manager was quick to give me free food to compensate me. I am not saying that she was wrong in-fact some managers lack customer service skills and will not try to fix the problem or will ignore the issue.

Giving free food will not solve the problem at least on her end, retraining will be. In this case the greeter should have been taken off the floor and someone else should have replaced her. If there is no one else, then the supervisor or manager should take over the position, after all it is the first impression right?

Cafe Figaro Naples Florida
The service was great and the food was good, once we received it. The food took forever to prepare and serve. This was an upscale restaurant that prepared the food from scratch. It took 45 minutes for us to receive our entrees. The server compensated us in free appetizers and desserts. He explained after we received our meals that their computer system broke down.

I gave the owner/chef who greeted and sat us my business card. They nailed the first impression, but lacked in other areas. I started up a conversation with a seasoned server from another section, somehow she know who I was a “restaurant consultant”. We talked about emergency procedures, in this case what to do when the POS system goes down.

All employees should be trained in how to write manual guest checks and how to submit them to the cooks to prepare. If all goes well the customers will not know that the POS system is down, that smooth. The seasoned server agreed with me and tried to tell the owner that this type of training will be beneficial to the business. Unfortunately, the owner never trained the employees in this particular area.

What also should have happened was the owner or supervisor should have talked to each table explaining the situation. The owner or supervisor should never offer excuses just the facts. Customers will understand if you explain to them the situation. If you ignore it, that’s where the problems begin, such as complaints. You need to be proactive before it gets out of hand and affects repeat business.

Overall the service and fantastic food made up for it. I would defiantly return to this restaurant, hopefully the emergency training and managers presence in the dining room has improved.

Longhorn Steakhouse Naples Florida
We were greeted and placed on a wait, it was approximately 9:00 PA. I literally counted a dozen tables that were open. This is defiantly a huge no no in the restaurant business. In the guest mind’s when there are open tables, they are available immediately for seating.

In this area alone management needs to be retrained in WOW restaurant customer service, meaning customers should be placed on a wait only when there are no table available. What made it worse is we were place on the waiting list for 20 minutes. Fortunately, that was the only issue. Our server was exceptional and the food was good.

The manager stopped by our table not to apologize for the wait but to say the appetizers and desserts were on them. I asked her why the free food and she replied that she heard we are vacationers. She even gave us a free appetizer card. WOW all this free food.

Between all three restaurants above we received over $110.00 in free food. These were nice dinner restaurants. I guess these restaurant are not concerned in food cost!.

Dairy Queen Naples Florida
We stopped by a dairy queen for my grandchildren for blizzard treats. We ordered 2 blizzards; they made the first one wrong. They gave us the 2 correct blizzards and said to keep the mistake. The window employee absolutely had no restaurant customer service skills or how to take an order. Where was management?

Burger King Naples Florida
We ordered food through the drive through, we ordered 6 meals. When we received the meals I discovered an extra meal in the bag. The employee told me to keep it on the house. Obviously that meal belonged to another customer.

Eventually they had to remake another meal for that customer. Food cost must not be an issue for this restaurant. I recommend the whole restaurant undergo retraining before their money is gone due to lack of training.

There are a lot of restaurants that have training or restaurant customer service issues. It does not matter if you are a chain restaurant or a mom or pop restaurant, no restaurant is immune. It’s what you do to either prevent it or correct it that matters. It’s better to be proactive to correct the problem before it’ occurs.

Managers are the key to the restaurants success. They are trained thoroughly in every aspect of the restaurant:
• Customer service
• Guest recovery
• Position training
• Communication skills
• How to properly manage employees
• Food cost awareness
• Labor cost awareness
• Etc.

Restaurant owners or district managers should manage the managers. Managers need to take personal ownership regardless if the owners are in the restaurant or out of the restaurant. Managers need to be on the floor 90 % of the time where the money is and 10 % in the office.

Every restaurant has issues it is what you do to correct the issues that matters.

Owners and Managers be aware of what is happening in your restaurant that could affect customer service and repeat business.

Great resources: Restaurant Forms, Checklist and Spreadsheets
http://www.workplacewizards.com/restaurant-form-2/

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