You have the food to offer your customers, but you don’t want to stop there. There’s more to being a good restaurateur than offering up some awesome dishes. You’re also offering an experience, from good customer service from all of your staff to the ambiance that they come to enjoy your fare in. The best way is to take advantage of their patronage as soon as they come through the door by means of a good hostess or server.
Don’t let your hostess say only “How many?” and “Follow me.” Unfortunately there are restaurants where you’re lucky to even just get that out. Don’t be afraid to say more. Your customers are coming to pay their good money to eat out at your place. Make sure they get what they pay for. They are not just paying for food and drinks, they are paying for an experience that should start as soon as they arrive.
The hostess shouldn’t be afraid to engage the customer a little. They should first and foremost welcome them to the restaurant then ask how many people there will be with them for their meal today. Then take it a step further by asking how they are today, that gives you a few options. You find out if it’s a good day and comment on how that’s good to hear, or if they are having a bad day it opens up for you to say that now they are here and it’s time to turn it into a good day. Read their answers and you’ll know what to do.
For instance, as you walk them to their table, it’s a great opportunity to suggest a drink from the bar as a good way to start turning their bad day around in the other direction. If they were having a good day still suggest a drink that will add to their day and make it even more of a great day. This is good to involve your customers in a brief conversation as well as maybe get a sale to your bar in the process.
Also it’s time to offer what might be something they enjoy from any specials you might be having to offer at the time. If there are no specials, tell them something that is one of your favorites on the menu that they might enjoy. as you walk them to their table. When they are seated be sure to tell them to enjoy their meal, offer your name and if they need assistance to let you know.
When they are seated, find something to mention to make them smile and feel good. For instance, if they have a baby with them you could mention that you saw some great baby onesies online but it looks like they’ve already found them as the one their child is wearing is adorable. Pick something that would make someone smile such as an outfit, or a fragrance, something that sets them apart. You want them to feel they’ve come somewhere special and are in for a good experience from the get go.
If the food is good, it will sell itself, but it alone can’t offer the ambiance and a full experience that starts as soon as they come in.