One feature almost every dine-in restaurant has in common is a host staff to greet and seat customers as they enter. Other than the signage on the outside, your host staff is the face of your restaurant; this is where the first impressions of your establishment will be made, and is often the most overlooked and underutilized position on the payroll.
So how do we ensure that our host staff is providing the best possible first impressions to our guests, setting them up for a positive dining experience?
Appearance is a Type of Power
American Historian Christopher Lasch once said “Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success.” It is crucial that your host staff looks presentable. They are, in a sense, running your restaurant during their shift. For your guests to feel welcomed and taken care of, make sure your host staff is well groomed, their attire is wrinkle free, and they have a smile on their face.
Don’t Forget to Smile!
A smile can say a thousand words. The main purpose of a host is to greet your customers as they walk in the door. It’s one thing to simply say “hello” as someone walks in, but saying “hello” with genuine smile will have a much longer lasting impression. Have your host staff be alert and friendly – guests do not want to feel as if they are bothering the host when they enter. Additionally, don’t let any guests go un-acknowledged. This includes a sincere “thank you” to the guests as they exit.
Busy, Busy, Busy
At some point, most people will have entered a restaurant only to see a host looking down on their phone, chatting with the other employees, and simply not doing much of anything. To avoid this type of appearance, keep your host staff busy. If there are multiple hosts for the shift, have them take turns greeting while the others wipe down menus, tidy up the lobby, or even help clear tables and run food if it is busy. As we mentioned before, this position is the most underutilized on the payroll. Instead of paying them to stand there, have them help elsewhere; this shows your guests that your staff are hard workers.
Master the Wait List
Creating and coordinating a wait list is not as easy as it seems. This job takes strategy and close attention to detail. An inaccurate wait list will most definitely foster negative reviews and impressions to your guests. Being able to run a wait list will take practice and training. Ensure you take the time to teach the art of the wait list to each host. Don’t just throw them to the hungry wolves until they are confident and prepared.
Whether your restaurant has a designated host staff or not, these tips hold true to all positions on your payroll. However, if you do have a host staff, now is the time to fully utilize all that their position is capable of, and the benefits they can provide to your restaurant’s reputation.