I recently read a recent article in the Guardian – Rise of the Robot Restaurant – it made me wonder whether these restaurants would experience similar benefits if they invested as much money in training their waiting staff as they did in new technology. I think there is an art to being a really good waiter/waitress yet so many restaurant owners assume that it’s OK to employee teenagers on a minimum wage to fulfil their service function. Having dedicated all their time to employing the best head-chef and fine-tuning their menu waiting staff are a bit of an after-thought.
This isn’t always the case of course – as a penniless student I spent my university holidays working in my local branch of TGI Friday’s as a Door Hostess. I would happily have been a waitress but it wasn’t possible because the training programme took 12 weeks! The food at TGI’s may only be one step up from a McDonalds but they really do know a thing or two about customer experience and staff motivation. If you are having a really good time because there is a fantastic ambience in the restaurant and the service is great – do you really care if the food is a little mediocre?
So how can you ensure that your customers receive the best experience in your restaurant?
- Greet your customers promptly on arrival – there is nothing worse than being left to hang around the entrance or sat at a table and then left for 10 minutes with no menus. Call me impatient at this point I am inclined to get up and leave.
- Make sure your waiting staff are knowledgeable about the food that they are serving. Let them try the dishes and learn about the ingredients. It’s always impressive if a waiter can answer questions about menu items with confidence. Also I am a sucker for a personal recommendation – if my server mentions that their favourite dessert is X then chances are I will order it.
- Allow a break between courses but not too long. I have lost count of the number of times that I probably would have ordered a dessert or coffee in a restaurant but have simply run out of time because no-one has come to check if I want anything else.
- Customers shouldn’t have to flag down waiting staff to get another drink. Waiting staff should keep an eye on drink levels and check if more drinks are required.
- Smile! Happiness is infectious and happy customers will spend more and come back again.
So try investing in your waiting staff a little and see the benefit in your bottom line.
Nicola Pearson – Partner
Westbury Accountants and Business Advisors is an accountancy practice based in London. Our Restaurant and Catering Consultancy Division offers a wide variety of services to the restaurant and catering industry. Having been involved with restaurants for more 20 years, we have been able to tailor a full menu of services to meet the needs of restaurants, hotels and other catering businesses. Talk to the team at Westbury on 0207 253 7272 or visit http://www.westbury.co.uk/services/industry-sectors/restaurants-catering.