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Restaurant Training – Waiter & Waitress Training Tips For Customer Service – Hospitality Education
Did you know that approximately 14% of your customers will not return to your business due to the quality of the food and 68% due to the quality of the service? So, doesn’t it make sense to train your waiters and waitresses to provide superior service to win back your customers every time?
To gain a competitive edge today, you need to do a lot more to get your restaurant on your “favorites” list. One way is to tailor the service to each type of customer that comes to your business. For example, the sales and service techniques employed for a family with children are different from those that would be provided to elderly customers. The same is true for business clients as opposed to holidaymakers. It is never safe to assume that food service personnel inherently understand these differences. Unless they are trained, they are very likely to offer a one-size-fits-all service.
Teach your waiters and waitresses to be attentive and follow the tips below to help gauge your customers’ needs:
• Time limitation (free time or limited time)
•Mood (celebratory, romantic, stressed)
• Age group (children, adolescents, baby boomers, seniors, geriatrics)
• Purpose of the visit (social, private/intimate or business)
• Gender Male Female)
Since approximately 80 percent of communication is conveyed through facial gestures and verbal and nonverbal body language, as opposed to actual words, teach your care team to focus on the following areas:
• Verbal language (tone of voice, speed, inflection, speech, pronunciation and grammar)
• Body language (eye contact, facial expressions, gestures and movements)
Look for the telltale signs of a customer in a hurry, such as looking at his watch, looking around or neck shaking, talking fast, crossing his arms or tapping his fingers. Also, take a close look at your customers’ image (e.g. clothing, accessories, hair, makeup, etc.). This can also provide you with plenty of clues about their cooking needs.
Here’s an exercise to share with your care team. List various types of customers and ways to tailor service for each category of customers. During a pre-shift meeting or corporate training session, review this exercise with food service personnel.
Types of customers and service tips:
-Since celebrating customers usually have bigger budgets, suggest more expensive items along with food/spirits and a cake to acknowledge the occasion
-Congratulate the celebrating customer and focus on his main event
-Be social unless serving a couple who want privacy
-Since many elderly customers have limited income, guide them towards value-oriented foods and recommend light, soft and less spicy foods
-Be patient and speak slowly, project your voice and listen carefully
– Refrain from acts that can be interpreted as condescending or treat them like children
3. Family (with children)
-Offer high chairs and booster seats
-Get ready for kid-favorite suggestions and easy-to-eat appetizers
-Offer something to get the child’s attention (toys, crayons, crackers)
-Be patient while the family orders and give the children the opportunity to order on their own
-Sincerely compliment the customer on his children
-Ask the child appropriate questions for children
-Place drinks where spills are least likely and remove obstructions (e.g. vases and centerpieces)
-Clean up spills quickly and keep the area tidy
– Delivery of extra napkins
4. Romantic couple
-Guides the couple to a booth or secluded area for privacy when seating them
-Suggest more expensive items along with wines, champagnes and exotic desserts, as romantic couples and first date people usually have bigger budgets
-Provide a highly organized and efficient service
– Minimize your conversation and allow them privacy, without hovering over them
-Suggest more expensive items, since many business people have established business accounts and allowances
-Suggest items that are prepared quickly and inform them if the selected order requires a long preparation, if they are on a business lunch
-Provide a highly organized and efficient service and ensure their order is delivered in a timely manner
– Minimize your conversation and allow them privacy without hovering over them
Note: When serving alcohol, train staff to be aware of signs of intoxication and avoid overselling. Teach your staff to refuse the sale of alcohol to minors.
Other types of customers include customers dining alone (the solo customer), disabled customers, teenagers as customers, customers in a hurry, first time customers and customers dining in large groups/gatherings. Again, each different type of customer has “specific” service needs. In addition to acknowledging which category customers belong to, the service tips above are intended as advice and are not set in stone. Always be sure to fully evaluate each restaurant patron by closely observing their verbal and body language to determine how to interact positively with them. Mike Owens, general manager of Brick Oven LLC, based in Topeka, Kansas, says, “Using the above examples in role-playing scenarios is a very effective way to properly train service teams…it helps them fully understand the importance of personalizing their service rather than providing the same pre-packaged service to everyone.”
“Service” is not just about delivering food and drinks to the table, it’s about giving the customer much more than they expect. Implementing a robust training program focused on service personalization will set you apart from the competition. Exceeding each customer’s needs with personalized service takes a little extra time. However, it’s worth it. When the customer wins, everyone wins and it’s a triple play: more money for you, more tips for your service staff, and happy customers who become loyal customers and refer their friends to your business.
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