I worked a wedding function a few months ago at a great venue. I arrived and the tables were set I must admit we had set them on the pack down from the previous wedding the night before, we had just to add the chairs and fill the water glasses. The staff were briefed from the run sheet and there was a whiteboard with timings, special requests, drawing of table shapes and numbers. Straightforward and visible easy for everyone to read and absorb. The Wedding as most do follow the set pattern of weddings: Guests arrive, canapes, entrees speeches nothing new happening here. The one thing that struck me with this Wedding was the missed key Opportunities to shine and the ones that were just caught.
During the Speeches as is normal the staff would break off for a quick break and something to eat and table service is limited by the speeches and not wishing to get in the way or intrude but through this I noticed a few key moments to shine that we missed or just got to. The Bride and Groom’s parents were not identified and this delayed any special love that could and should be bestowed on the people who were paying for the Evening. I noticed that as a whole we had not focused on the key timings of the speeches and were not ready and organised with charged glasses for that important toast. The day was saved by a scurry round the room to reach the Groom’s Father just as he was about to hold the Mic up as a mock drink. Disaster averted.
During a restaurant’s turnover or that point when the cutlery is being polished often there is a down turn in staff vigilance this maybe is a due to the hard push of the evening and a wear off of adrenaline and combined with hungry staff, focus can be lost in the post service rush. Staff want to get the cutlery done, glasses polished,sections are handed over but an establishment has much to gain by having a well briefed and attentive staff member looking and anticipating customers needs whether that be the bill, another drink or a top up of water. This of course could and should be the section waiters responsibility but i have found it effective to create the floating role solely dedicated to customer service without the distraction of table maintenance and conversation with tables. They become the eyes and ears of the floor and can generate sales and reduce the likelihood of customer frustration. They can also direct staff to guests and remain attentive to their needs.
Stepping back from service and observing the flow of an event like a Wedding should help you improve how the Event is being run. Looking at the key timings and asking the right questions about when, what, who, where ,how long etc etc will enable you to provide the information to staff about when key actions should be carried out through the Event this will expand the Event template that systemises all the questions in a thorough manner. It is important to remember that all your templates are living and breathing documents that need to be updated and or customised to suit your clients needs. Taking the time to run a debrief towards the end of the night is let’s face it a punish that could fall on deaf ears but the other option of staff walking out not realising that the team could have performed better.
Continuous improvement of your Establishment is one of the key to growing and expanding your customer base and increasing customer satisfaction. Its a easy idea but the reality can sometimes be hard to implement, so what do you need to change? Do you need to observe your business from a customer’s view? Do you need to implement more systems or really rework the systems you already have. Would a debrief at the end of the night improve what you do? There are many factors that could affect your business? So take the time and have a think about what key opportunities you can see to alter and enhance the customer’s experience and start creating a workplace culture that thrives on innovation and happy customers.