1: Avoid Getting Distracted!
Time and time again I have gone into restaurants and seen waiters on their mobile phones. This can happen at all times of the day and can happen when the restaurant is busy. Social Media is highly addictive and can get in the way of the restaurant’s profits if the waiting staff aren’t paying attention!
There are times when I look across at the other diners and see glasses almost empty being completely ignored by the waiting staff. This is a problem. A good restaurant can make a lot of profit from drinks, and sometimes people need prompting to order more.
Let’s break this down. You have two people come into the restaurant having booked in a table. They will order drinks, and then the waiter will come back to the customers once they have had time to look at their menu. The drinks will have gone down but not be close to empty. Now there is a good chance the customers may start with a starter or just go in to a main course. Starters are good because the customer will usually order a main course afterwards.
2: Avoid Hovering And Bothering Customers
Whilst it’s incredibly important to be attentive with customers, paying them too much attention can yield negative results. It can be good to keep an eye on customers and make sure that they are ok, but you should restrict this to a minimum of times throughout the evening so that you don’t bother customers.
Don’t stand near customers and focus on naturally moving through the restaurant rather than sticking in one spot. If you are moving and working you can keep an eye on everyone, but if you hover in one spot you will become very obvious to people.
If you are moving around the restaurant and you see a glass needs filling, you can move over and offer to fill it, but lurking near a table can put people off and make them very uncomfortable, as can interacting with them too often throughout their meal. Asking them if they are enjoying their meal can be nice, but asking it several times can be bothersome and you can lose customers from it.
3: Avoid Being Overly Familiar With Customers
Whilst it is always good for waiters to be polite and friendly with customers, sometimes they can get a little too friendly. Always keep things friendly and polite but never push. Keeping things formal can really help with this. Sir or Madam are preferable to using a customer’s first name when communicating with them!
People have a little bubble around them which is like their personal space, and they can react badly to unfamiliar people entering that space. It’s important to not sit at the table when taking orders, make personal remarks, or touch customers in any way at all. Keep things polite, friendly but respectful at all times!
4: Don’t Ask To Take Photos
Sometimes people will ask you to take a group photograph of them and their friends. It’s always good to keep an eye out for this kind of situation and help them out. This can be a really positive thing to do, however a lot of restaurant owners like to look for people enjoying their meals. They then get the staff to try and take pictures of happy customers. This is a really bad thing to do.
Time and again I’ve seen the looks of happiness fade to mild concern and anxiety. A safe and happy occasion immediately becomes unsafe. All of a sudden customers who were happy with you suddenly feel unsure. What will these pictures be used for? To promote the business? Probably.
An alienated customer is not a happy customer, and has less chance to give tips and favourable reviews. It may even reduce their willingness to come in again. You can lose customers by photographing them or getting staff to photograph them.
Some restaurants have even photographed customers and put the pictures up on Social Media without consent. This is a big problem, because the customers can sue if you use their image without them giving permission.
5: Don’t Ever Lose Your Rag!
There will be times when customers will be unruly, annoyed of angry. A lot of the things they can say will feel personal, unjust and they may well lie about things to your face. The important thing is to never engage negatively in conflict with them, even if they are in the wrong. It can be really hard to maintain your cool with a customer who is lashing out at you verbally, and sometimes even physically, but the important thing is to always try and remain calm and not lash out in retaliation!
For more information on how to handle unpleasant situations with customers, check out our blog on the subject here!