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Restaurant Service: Prepare to be Remarkable

By Jeff Hookham

Last week I was watching Cinderella with my daughters during our Friday Family Movie Night. I love the part where the fairy godmother uses her magic wand to create the carriage and ensemble to take Cinderella to the ball. While I was watching that I was thinking to myself; I wish I had a magic wand!

That wand would be helpful when we receive calls to discuss how to get a service team to be Remarkable. I could then just wave my wand and poof, your old service team would be gone and a shiny, new and Remarkable service team would appear.

Ok now back to the reality. Let's take your current service team and prepare them to be Remarkable.

In our Elements of Service workbook we teach the Remarkable Service Cycle. Maybe it's because the first stage of the cycle isn't "sexy" but for whatever reason we've only had one article written about the Preparation stage in four years of Service Talk.

It's because of an experience I had yesterday that I feel we need to talk about the Preparation stage. (I'm not going to talk about that experience. It may take a magic wand but I'm hoping they will read this article and think "a-ha, we need to change some things around here")

There is no guest interaction during the Preparation stage but that doesn't mean it isn't important. Ben Franklin said "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."

The Service Cycle is repeated for each new guest so the server will go through the Preparation stage several times during the shift. And if done correctly you will see a more engaged service team, better guest impressions, increased sales and the guest will be more apt to leave having had a Remarkable experience.

3 Steps to A Successful Preparation Stage

1. Prepare Yourself

A well-groomed appearance communicates professionalism and creates a great first impression. Uniform or clothing should be pressed and spotless. What's that saying, "The Clothes make the man"? This can certainly be true for servers.

Stained aprons are a no-no, hair should be tied back and please wear a belt when possible. Hand washing is important for many reason and don't forget to clean the fingernails.

Owners/Managers, put a mirror where the staff can check themselves during their shift.

2. Prepare the Dinning Area

It's a big turn-off to be seated at a dirty table. I also tell servers that even if you have bussers cleaning and setting the table, it is ultimately your responsibility to make sure everything is prepared correctly for the guest. If it's not clean or there aren't plates on the table for the bread or the seats are wet, guess who gets blamed...YOU!

3. Know the Daily Menu Changes

It's very discouraging to hear a server say "I'll have to go check with the kitchen" when my wife asks about the soup of the day. Lots of blame to go around for this but I tend to blame management. A servers lack of knowledge around the daily items and specials means management isn't pre-shifting.

Every server on the floor should know the soups, daily specials and 86'd items. Managers should be quizzing their staff before and during the shift. It's hard to maximize a ticket average when you don't know these simple things.

Remarkable Service doesn't just happen in your establishment. There is no magic wand to wave around. There is no silver bullet. It's takes training and consistent reinforcement. Now go prepare to be Remarkable!



Jeff Hookham is the CEO of 4 Remarkable Service. Visit http://www.4remarkable.com for additional articles and resources on wait staff training.


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