10 Sure-fire Service Killers
Your business depends on high-quality food and stellar service. Have your waitstaff avoid these service killers for a dining experience your customers won’t soon forget.
1. Don't forget that you are a business first. “While individual, friendly, family-like service is what you are striving for, never forget these guests are still customers,” says Tania Arthur, operations director for Between the Buns/Curve Café in Osceola and Elkhart, Indiana. “They are still paying you to do your job. While they might really like to see pictures of your grandbabies, they also want their food hot and fast, and their coffee refilled.”
2. Don't keep dysfunctional staff. Stuart Gray, the founder and principal of Hospitality Rocks recruitment and training firm based in Jordan, Minnesota, says not to allow “manipulative, self-centered” team members to negatively affect your brand in the market. “Those folks need to represent the competition,” he says.
3. Don't treat all your guests the same. “Every guest is different,” says Jason Neve, culinary director for B&B Hospitality Group in Las Vegas, “so don’t think they can all be served the same way.”
4. Don't ignore the guest’s needs. “Not being able to read the guest’s needs” can be a costly miscue, says Joe Marsco, operations director at Las Vegas’ Andre’s and Alize restaurants says. “Great service is very instinctual over time, and you become able to anticipate needs before the client does.”
5. Don't forget the “Golden Rule”. “One can Google a hundred things to avoid,” says Tim Kempke, front-of-house manager of Henry’s at the Farm in the historic Hudson Valley of New York. A key focus must be on the customer. “Never stray away from imagining you, the server, are the guest,” Kempke says. “How would you want to be treated? How would you not want to be treated?”
6. Don't ignore social media complaints. “Never discount the power of social media,” says Jami Zimmerman corporate communication director at RAVE Restaurant Group Inc. “The old saying used to be that an unhappy customer is likely to tell 10 people about their experience, as opposed to a happy customer telling one person about a good experience. Today, with social media and review sites, guest feedback on public sites can drive business or negatively affect traffic depending on their overall experience. This is just another reason why each and every guest experience is important.”
7. Don't let service slide during busy ties. “One of the most critical mistakes to avoid in the restaurant industry is neglecting to provide high-quality service during busy hours,” says Mike Lester, president of The Melting Pot Restaurants Inc. in Tampa, Florida. “Customers rightfully expect the highest standards of service and quality during all time periods and that’s what the restaurant must deliver, regardless of whether or not it is at full capacity.”
8. Don't be impersonal. “First, you have to make sure the customer knows the server or bartender’s name,” says Scott Frost, president of Titan Branding, which operates Hussong’s Cantina and Slice of Vegas restaurants in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada. “This begins the interaction on a more personal level. Without it they are just nameless strangers.”
9. Don't say just anything to make the sale. “Never say ‘everything (on the menu) is good,” Frost says. “Customers want to know what’s good, and servers have to have at least two or three favorites to recommend.”
10. Don't drop and run. Lastly, Frost says, operators should avoid what he calls the drop and run. When presenting the food, let the customer know what they are getting. Double-check that everything looks like what they ordered. Finally, check if they need anything else.”