Good food, good ambiance, and an iconic location such as the Eiffel Tower can fall flat in the absence of a stellar service team. But what does it take to make the dining experience for your guests from average or good to extraordinary and memorable? It is your front-of-the-house staff. But who are these people and how do you ensure that they deliver what’s expected of them? Read on to find out!
Who is your front-of-the-office staff?
- Host: A host is the first person a guest will interact with when they walk into a restaurant. Hosts are responsible for welcoming the guests, greeting them, and escorting guests to their table or waiting area in case the restaurant is running at full capacity. They take details for guests in waiting, coordinate to get a table arranged and handle phone calls, and all sorts of customer inquiries at the front desk. They pitch in on busy days when the restaurant is short of enough servers or other jobs too. As they get to experience on the job, these hosts are gradually moved to server roles.
- Servers: A server can make or break the dining experience for the guest. They are the once among all the restaurant staff who interact the most with guests. They have many roles and responsibilities such as taking a guest’s food and beverage orders, delivering the order details to the kitchen or bar staff, checking on the guest throughout the meal, resolving issues if any, and a lot more. In short, they wear many hats and are the key people responsible to deliver a delightful dining experience.
- Bartenders: These are the people who keep the night young and happening. They keep the drinks flowing both alcoholic and non-alcoholic and often play the role of a server where a restaurant has a bar station where customers can sit and enjoy their drinks. These bartenders often take food orders to snack on along with the drinks.
Now that you are familiar with your front-of-the-house team and the role they play, setting guidelines, and defining responsibilities to enable them to perform their job better becomes a much easier task. Perhaps the most complex role is that of a server, why you may ask.
Non-negotiable server responsibilities
The server’s scope of services extends much beyond well the actual serving duties. They do a lot before customers arrive and after they leave which ensures things are smooth both at the front office and back office. Most of the tasks remain the same from one restaurant to another, however, it is a good practice to define them and keep iterating them over and over. So, what are these responsibilities? Let’s find out.
SERVER DUTIES BEFORE GUESTS ARRIVE
- Reporting on time: Coming to work on time is a virtue that is good to have for all your restaurant staff. However, it is more crucial for severs as they have a lot to do before guests start rolling in.
- Magic is in the details: Smaller nuances like a perfectly rolled napkin, sparkly and polished silverware, pristine table linen, and sparkling drinkware and dinnerware are all the responsibility of a server.
- A table that attracts the eye: Laying out the table with the crispiest of linen, shining silverware, sparkling dinnerware, freshest of flowers, or a beautiful candle is the responsibility of a server.
- Lime for garnishes: Lemons are always required by the side with food, as a topping for drinks, in infused water, etc. Get your server to cut these and other garnishes such as jalapenos, and de-seeding cherries, there is nothing like too many garnishes.
SERVING THE GUESTS
- Greeting guests: Though welcoming and seating the guests is a host's responsibility, servers must always greet the guests, smile at them, and make them feel comfortable and welcomed once they are seated.
- What’s on the menu: One of the prime responsibilities of a server is to know the menu inside-out so that they can explain the dishes and make suggestions to guests.
- Taking orders and alcohol awareness: The primary responsibility of servers is to take the food and drink orders and inform the bar and kitchen staff about the same. When it comes to alcohol, they should know whom to serve and whom not to serve. They need to be well-informed about liquor laws in the area.
- Upselling: A server should be trained to upsell things on the menu to the guest. It elevates the guest experience, but it also increases restaurant revenues.
- Keep diners informed: If a certain item on the menu will take a long time inform the guests when taking the order. Keep checking on the guests while they wait for their food, offering a free drink during this time period never hurts.
- The glass should never be empty: Keep re-filling water in the glasses without being asked to do so. When the beer glass is half-empty ask if guests need a top-up.
- Serve food hot or cold: The onion soup should be piping hot and your gazpacho should be as chilled as it can get.
- Familiarize with tech: Knowing your restaurant’s tech systems such as a POS will not only make life easy for servers, it will save them a lot of time.
- Wrapping the meal on a sweet note: Suggest ordering your best-selling dessert or that Bailley’s shot to end the meal.
- Memorable celebrations: Offer a complimentary cake or flowers or a glass of wine with all the oomph to make celebrations like anniversaries and birthdays extra special. Probably dance for your guest too!
- Put your best foot forward: Make an impression by being well-dressed and well groomed. You are representing your workplace after all.
- No dirty dishes: Be quick in picking up empty serving bowls, plates, and silverware as soon as your guests have finished their meal.
- Closing the table: Ensure the billing and payment process is smooth, something as simple as getting the correct bill and processing payment swiftly elevates the guest experience.
SERVER DUTIES AFTER GUESTS LEAVE
- Re-filling supplies: Now that the guest has left, replace the linen, napkins, and silverware, fill up that condiment jar, and light a fresh candle, in short, keep the table ready for the next guest.
- Be accommodating: On a busy day, you may have to stay beyond your shift timing, be flexible about it, and do not sulk.
- Be patient and active: Servers are at the center of the action. Running around and multi-tasking, they need to be both patient and active, with no room for a dull moment.
- Closing the Restaurant: Tidying up the place, cleaning coffee machines, polishing cutlery, putting chairs and stools away, mopping the floors at the end of the day, switching off the lights, and finally checking no electronics are left plugged in.
Life in the hospitality business is always buzzing with activity. A server plays a much bigger role in the seamless functioning of a restaurant than what appears to the eye. As an employer communicating your expectations clearly and appreciating them from time to time can really go a long way!