Nail Your Greet! Sell Yourself Before the Restaurant!
Why is it that many restaurant training programs emphasize new team members nail the greet? Could it be that first impressions are very important? In any professional atmosphere first impressions are very important, not to discredit casual situations as well. What is unique about the restaurant industry is that there are hundreds, if not thousands of first impressions a day in a single building! With all of these impressions going on, there is also a lot of selling and decisions being made. What are these decisions being made? They are opinions on the restaurant, the server, the atmosphere and how much will be spent. Think of the last time you went to a restaurant (that you did not work at). Do you ever feel a little anxiety or curiosity while waiting to be greeted by the server, a representative of the restaurant?
OF COURSE YOU HAVE!
That is part of being human and dealing within unknown.
Hence the importance of the first impression and nailing your greet!
Appearance is important, but in the restaurant industry it is the standard. A poor appearance will prevent you from even getting on the floor, be professional and look like a movie star (relative to the concept). With the appearance issue in the dish pit, focus on that greet and a few elements of it to increase spending and experience; making $$$ is why you work in the FOH and not in retail or as a cashier.
Put that anxiety aside and take a quick look at the table and chit (if provided). Make a quick assessment of the situation (a few examples):
- Is the guest looking at the menu?
- Did the front door provide any information such as a birthday, anniversary or other special moment?
- Are there kids?
- Does the group have drinks from the bar already?
- Is this party all here?
This list goes on and on. A few we really like are kids, special event or drinks. These can save time and help build rapport.
The greet is where rapport is built and connections with guests are made. This is why doing a little reconnaissance beforehand might be a good thing! Getting the information doesn’t require much, this is not like being a Navy SEAL going into a secret operation, however, a little intelligence can be gathered by listening to what the guests are talking about when walking up to the table. Use it to your advantage that for the most part, they do not know you are coming. By potentially overhearing a discussion or reading body language YOU as the server have gained a bit of knowledge about the table and can begin to tailor the experience accordingly!
- Are they in a rush?
- Is it is first date?
- Parents night out, no kids?
- Anniversary or birthday?
- Ladies night out? (worth a post all in its own)
- Bachelor/bachelorette party?
- Business meeting or office dinner?
- Old friends catching up?
The possibilities are endless for what is happening at the table, however eavesdropping can really help make that initial greet easier and a little more customized to the guest. Imagine being able to spiel or offer exactly what the guest needs every time you up to a table for the first time?
That skill is priceless, too bad it doesn’t exist. The said individual here would be a mind reader and making millions of dollars per day. “Perfect” in this industry is in the eye of the beholder and the beholder is the person paying the bill.
Backtrack a little and focus on any intelligence gathered from the front door, colleagues and overhearing any conversation at the table. Use this to then quickly plan an approach to a table and get to it!
The information gathered and applied to the guest can have a profound effect on the guests’ experience and the tip left and the end!
What is the lesson?
Find the quickest way to build rapport with guests and maximize it to create an experience, you are not a mind reader, but a facilitator and producer of something memorable. Nail your greet! Be memorable not a mind reader!
Spread the word with the whole staff!