To gain a controlled and enjoyable atmosphere within your venue, it’s important that you have set procedures in place. A customer’s experience is based upon the order and service within your business, and due to the fact that hospitality is a customer service based industry, you must meet their needs by creating endless team structure. These procedures should focus around the experience itself, by providing the right training to all employees to know how things should be run during each service.
The Floor: Ordering
To get a restaurant moving, you obviously need your customer’s orders taken. However, to do this without mistakes, mishaps or misunderstandings, make sure your floor staff are fully informed and trained on the menu- including specials, so that they can upsell, make suggestions and steer clear of any product the customer may be allergic to. The server who initially seats and greets the customer should be on that table for the remainder of the shift, starting from appetizers to dessert and drinks. This allows the customer to create a bond with the server and be able to ask questions when needed- it’s all about the customer’s level of comfort within their dining experience. This also helps other staff members on the floor know who is responsible for which tables, and if something goes wrong, they know who to speak to. It helps if the table order each dish all at once, but if they are slow thinkers and prefer to take the night at their own place, the server must keep an eye on their plates being whisked away and when to answer their calls. But before main meals, appetizers and drinks should be delivered first to the kitchen and bar staff, so that the procedure is in motion- the kitchen staff will know when to begin mains and send them out at an appropriate time. During the meal, the appointed server is also responsible for checking up on their guests at certain intervals, to ensure that they are satisfied and/or have any other requests.
The Bill: Pay Up
Depending on what type of establishment you’re running, the method of payment will differ. For instance, in a restaurant or café, the server will run up to the customer when needed and hand over the bill, then come back to collect it- or if staff numbers are low, going to the front cashier desk at the bar might be your method. Once the customer asks for their bill, make sure that your staff let them know the options and restrictions of their payment- mainly if your venue accepts credit cards and if they need to reclaim their coupon. The process should be established before service begins, because if one floor member forgets a table, they may just miss the bill altogether! It’s common for venue’s to experience ‘runners’, who skip the bill and walk out unnoticed. This mainly happens in outdoor areas, which forces staff members to ask for a form of ID so that they know the customer has retrieved and payed for their service. Many guests have a problem with this method, as it may seem far fetched and too ‘serious’ for a dinner outing, however, it’s not worth the chance of customers running out the venue when staff is low and a busy period is occurring.
Prepping: Kitchen & Front of House
This point is crucial and must be delivered properly before each service. The kitchen in itself should be run by your Head Chef, they know where each staff member needs to be and what products need prepping for the service ahead. Whether it be in the morning, midnight or in afternoon hours, meal prep must be completed so that service can actually run properly. If nothing was prepped it would look as though your customers will be waiting hours upon hours- so be sure to make a list, double check your food stock and start prepping for the busy hours to come.
For the front of house, which also includes the bar, stock must be done twice a day. An appointed staff member for each section needs to make sure that beverages, materials and bar food have been restocked, along with a cash up of the till before each new service time begins (morning and evening). By arranging a checklist and hanging it in the bar/kitchen, staff members will be able to grab and check whenever needed, so that when ordering time comes around, they will know exactly what to do. For the floor, servers must check that cutlery has been washed and polished, and continue asking the kitchen hand if they are finished with a new batch of clean dishes. Section side tables will be restocked with napkins, signs, toothpicks, cutlery, menu’s and water if needed. These small touches allow a lot of time to be saved when service hits its peak and your servers will be too busy running around to find an extra napkin!
Number one priority, food safety. No one wants to sit in a venue that can’t handle their cleaning duties- customers want to know that their food is in safe and washed hands. Even though your floor staff aren’t cooking in the kitchen, they still need to adhere to the rules when they’re carrying around dishes to seated customers. Being in any kind of contact with food means that hair must be tied back, hands washed, no touching of any product and of course, your servers must be holding utensils and plates the proper way. For instance, only touch glasses at the base and not the rim, hold plates from the bottom and utensils should not be carried when food is touched. Washing hands after sanitary situations is a must, as well as eating or dealing with money- and please do not let customers catch your staff eating during the shift! There’s always training classes to ensure that your staff stay on top of their game and follow the sanitary rules.