Reading the state of play of your cafe or restaurant throughout service is not innate skill it is very much a skill learned through trial, error , observation, frustration and unfortunately seeing a customer walking out the door without you maximising customer spend or worse not committing to spending money in your Business for some reason. If the customer’s initial view of your establishment is not welcoming and checking their boxes then you have lost quite possibly that customer for good.
As floor manager i had to develop skills and an appreciation of the customers needs. I’d base this mainly upon my expectations of what i would look for as a customer did the Cafe look inviting , clean, was there a buzz, how did the staff look can i relate to the business and you bet will i get a good cup of coffee there. My job would be to ensure that the Cafe ran smoothly had a good vibe and made money – a place i’d like to go to with great personal efficient service.
Being able to read the floor of your business is one of the keys to success for your business and by reading the floor i mean can you walk in and understand what is happening right now what has happened and what will need to happen. Thats a lot of happening but in order for you to operate smoothly you need to be able to look at the tables and see if the wait staff are on top of their sections are there dirty plates,drinks unfilled in their section. Are customers looking anxious are the staff rattled and looking unhappy?
What happens next is up to you if you have walked in and it’s a proverbial bun fight. Pulling the staff out of the hole that they are in requires leadership, strength humor and a calm but efficient demeanour. Consultation with the staff and a triage assessment need to be conducted straight away, direction and communication of strategy and liaising with the kitchen about what and what dockets need attention first. The ability to get amongst it and roll your sleeves up and assisting the staff goes along way when they are under the pump and by doing the staff can build with faith the staff.
Watching and studying your customers and their habits will give you a great insight into their future behavior and communicating your thoughts verbally or in a communication diary will help your staff to start to operate on a subconscious automatic level. The staff should understand that Mrs Jones always has a second Cappuccino but only after she has finished her breakfast. Why should they understand – they read it in the diary and you have discussed the customers needs whilst you are making coffee – they were briefed in a staff handover and communication procedure is covered in your standard operating manual. Creating and following systems is great way to make sure that you don’t fall into that hole, you will have days that you are caught short and you are under the pump but it’s how you react and how you recognise the signs of a impending busy service period that will make the difference to the service period.
Assess your staff are they following your systems or lead, do they scan tables, are they organised and do they know when their bookings are due, can they turn the tables over on time and think ahead to expedite issues that they can see coming?
The more organised and prepared you are regarding service issue and recognising the tell tales signs of how you are performing on the floor will aid your sanity when it really matters . Staff turnover happens more often than any employer wants and the more information you can impart to the staff in a organised manner the better to reduce repetition.