It’s that time of year again—the joyful and triumphant restaurant holiday season. Let’s be honest, a restaurant dining room during the holidays can turn from Miracle on 34th Street to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation very quickly, but how you prepare yourself and your front-of-house team will determine the outcome. The stress and emotions of the holidays influence whether you end up with a guest for life, or a rage-fueled, Yelp-happy keyboard warrior on a mission to destroy your brand. Here are a few quick guest experience best practices to ensure you end up with the former instead of the latter.
Get the word out
Perhaps the quickest and easiest way to rally the troops is to communicate through a pre-shift! Remind your FOH team that the holidays are a vulnerable time for your restaurant, so it’s imperative they’re on their A-game. Your guests are typically overstimulated, emotional, stressed, and entertaining their closest family and friends, some of which they have no desire to be in the same room with, and they expect to receive a flawless service experience. Try tuning into the “WIIFM,” or, “what’s in it for me” server mentality; remind servers that guests tend to be more generous during the holidays and are more apt to reward them for an amazing experience with a bigger tip. Be clear with GSAT targets and don’t be afraid to incentivize with team contests and rewards!
Set the vibe
Chances are if the music is blaring, politics streaming on TV, and lights are mind-numbingly bright, your guests will reciprocate with anger and anxiety. If that’s not the vibe you’re going for, be extra thoughtful in creating an environment where your guests feel comfortable and relaxed. The holidays are stressful enough on their own. If you create a hospitable environment and execute with purpose and urgency, your team will follow.
Don’t hold guests hostage
We’ve all been there, sitting at a table waiting for what feels like an eternity for our server to process payment. To avoid this, set clear service expectations for your FOH team to improve attentiveness and speed-of-service, and follow up! Get guests in and out quickly with immediate greets, timely quality checkbacks and speedy payment reconciliation. These are crucial steps to ensure guests have a great experience and to maximize revenue, so be sure to validate that servers are executing them in real-time on the floor.
Write and repeat all orders
Order accuracy is a major GSAT driver, so be sure servers are writing down all orders, repeating them, and entering them into the POS accurately. The chaos of the holidays can easily impact your guest’s ability to articulate what they’re trying to order, and your servers’ ability and willingness to interpret. Not to mention aunt Suzy over there, three Chards deep…
Lead from the front…
…not from the office. Your team needs you to be present on the floor, speaking with guests, extinguishing the inherent fires that will ignite. One of the worst mistakes you can make as a restaurant leader is to underestimate your team. When the right people are given realistic goals, clear expectations and lead by an ambitious leader, magic happens.
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