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Restaurant Report E-mail Newsletter

For Hospitality Professionals and Food Connoisseurs

Issue #43 January 4, 1999

http://www.restaurantreport.com
newsletter@restaurantreport.com


(This publication may be freely redistributed in its entirety)

In This Issue

* Feature Article
* Links of Interest
* Reader Feedback
* Internet Tip
* Bulletin Board


Feature Article

Winning Service Strategies
By Ronald Moeller, Hospitality Consultant

With the coming of the New Year -- a year expected to be busier than usual as we approach the new millennium, it is a good time to be resolute in evaluating and reviewing some of the more obvious aspects of good restaurant service. Following are these points that, while seemingly obvious, sometimes get lost -- especially in the bustle of increased business.

A. Prepare Ahead of Time

1. Know your products. Understand all menu items and daily specials including related language/pronunciation. Familiarize ALL staff with these items by regular tastings in the kitchen and brief meetings with the chef, as necessary.
2. Appearance matters. Make sure that your clothing/uniform is washed and ironed and put out the night before. A wrinkled shirt may be perceived by the guest as an anticipated "wrinkle" in the dining experience. Stay light on personal fragrances: no one wants to be served "Estee Lauder Alfredo".
3. "Psych" yourself. Be positive and remember that, "We always get what we expect."

B. Warm and Caring Service

1. Establish eye contact and smile, smile, smile. Prepare technical details of your job in advance so you can focus your eyes on your customer.
2. Think funny/happy thoughts to smile naturally and practice in front of a mirror if necessary. If you want to be a "star" on the floor, unless you are a natural--you have to practice like one.

C. Be Your Customer's Advocate

1. Certainly follow the rules but, when in doubt, always think of your customers needs first.
2. Always try to accommodate customers special requests with an attitude of "We can do anything for you (within reason)".

D. Schmooze and You Won't Lose

1. When customers arrive, offer to take their coats and deliver coat-check receipts to the host of your party;
2. Pay CLOSE attention so that you can anticipate your customers next need and/or request paying special attention to the host of your party and addressing s/he by his/her sir name to demonstrate your respect and validate their importance.
3. A good Maitre 'd and/or Executive Chef always make a point to stop at each table briefly (at an appropriate time--between courses etc.) to check on guest satisfaction.

E. Problem Solving

1. Replace all "I dunno's" with "I will check on that for you immediately". Summon your Maitre 'd for more complex problems.
2. Always offer alternatives including choice of seating, if available. If a menu item has been 86'd--offer a related selection INCLUDING a detailed description.
3. Seek aid from your co-workers if you are buried. Do not attempt to do everything yourself or you will not only sacrifice your party's dining experience, but also the restaurant's reputation.

F. Demonstrate Sincere Pride

1. It's not only your restaurant and your station, it also reflects YOU. Whether you are handling a small party, several tables or a banquet, make sure that your area is clean before, during and after your shift. No matter what kind of cleaning service the owner employs, there are bound to be spills, crumbs etc. that are simple and easy to clean up quickly and unobtrusively. (Clean rest rooms are also very important. Surveys demonstrate that female patrons often judge a restaurant by the cleanliness of its rest rooms.)
2. Show enthusiasm. Take the proper time to SELL your items with adequate use of descriptions. Do not assume that patrons are familiar with your menu just because you are. Focus on your operations unique preparation and ingredients. If you are unsure, ASK. I never met a chef who didn't want to discuss his "signature" preparation techniques with interested staff members.
3. Pacing the meal carefully is far more important to your current customer than when your next order is up. When delivering the entree, "delivery technique" is also important. You are presenting "culinary artwork". Precious artwork would not be tossed carelessly on the table. It would, instead, be placed before your customer with pride.
4. Suggesting appetizers, espresso/cappuccino and special desserts do not only add tips to your wallet, they also add to your customers dining experience. Having a good understanding of what items to suggest and pair with an entree complements the entire meal like a good Cabernet does with Filet Mignon.

G. Ensuring Guests Return

1. Establish a successful rapport. Monitoring your guests actions and reactions is critical throughout the course of the meal. Wait staff who possess a high level of intuition and healthy self-esteem are able to connect with their guests effectively and understand the pride and joy of serving others. Most importantly, it shows.
2. Always handle customer gripes quickly and effectively. The restaurant and YOU will be judged on the length of time it took you to resolve the perceived problem, your manners, and how you equitably remedied it with a solution. More important than in any other industry, in food service--the customer is ALWAYS right. No matter what happens, stay composed: Think, communicate and THEN react.
3. Extend SINCERE thanks and ask for the customers return: "I very much enjoyed serving you this evening and hope that I see you again soon." Personal thanks, handwritten on checks, are also appreciated.

*****
Ronald Moeller is a hospitality consultant with Maren Incorporated. Mr. Moeller has over 10 years wait staff training and management experience in the Hospitality Industry. He can be contacted at (412) 833-4639/(412) 885-8280 or by E-mail at mailto:mareninc@aol.com.

*****

Let's talk about the elements (secrets) of running a successful restaurant. Share your comments, thoughts, and stories with our readers. Write to: newsletter@restaurantreport.com


Links of Interest

Best of 1998 Nightclub & Bar Reviews
http://nightclub.com/magazine/December98/index.html
Learn what some of the best restaurants, nightclubs and bars are doing to stay ahead of the pack. (Learn well enough and maybe you'll be on this list next year!)

Newsmakers '98
http://www.rimag.com/824/sr-yr.htm
A look back at some of memorable food, news and people that helped transform the industry in 1998.

Growth Brands
http://www.beveragenet.net/sreport/growthbrands.asp
A Special Report identifying the fastest-growing brands of wine, beer and spirits in the beverage alcohol industry.

Wine-osaur Provides Help For Grape Pickings
http://ticketlive.com/food/wine1213.html
A nice article on selecting affordable wines -- featuring picks from the Restaurant Report's very own Phillip Silverstone.

Alta Vista Language Translator -- Great for international readers
http://babelfish.altavista.com/cgi-bin/translate
Just in case you didn't think technology was fascinating -- here's a link that I believe shows otherwise. Type in a message or the address of any web page and you'll get a real time translation. No, it's not perfect -- but the results are quite good for a 5 second job!

**What's New At the Restaurant Report On-line:

The Changing Face Of The Top Shelf
http://www.restaurantreport.com/Features/ft_topshelf.html
Barbara Ann Rosenberg takes a look at the trendy "drinking less but drinking better" phenomenon. Whether it's Vodka, Bourbon, Single Malt Scotch, or Cognac, restaurant and bar patrons are requesting their favorite brands - and they're getting even more elitist as new styles of distillation and marketing keep showing up.

An Interview with Bernard Hine
http://www.restaurantreport.com/Departments/w_bernardhine.html
More Top Shelf Talk -- Phillip Silverstone chats with Bernard Hine of the cognac firm, Cognac Hine.

*****
Are you looking for more links like this? Visit the Restaurant Report E-mail Newsletter Links Archive for a compilation of feature links from all past issues: http://www.restaurantreport.com/Newsletter/featurelinks.html


Reader Feedback

**Next Post - Tip Sharing

I have been receiving the Restaurant Report for a while now and have found much of the information reported here very interesting, and informative.

I work in a privately owned restaurant chain (3 units at the moment with a fourth to come in a month or so). The unit that I work at is a large restaurant with a gaming and redemption area , pool hall, banquet facility, bar.

We are at the moment considering changing from our current system of server tip outs to a tip sharing program in which we will take a percentage of our servers tips and share them with the 3 departments of our staff that are in direct contact with the restaurant facility, instead of our current system of servers tipping out each of these departments with our own set minimums.

I would like to know if any of your readers have experienced changing from our current system to a tip sharing environment. I have heard pros and cons about the system. My concerns retaining current employees and being able to attract new employees on this system.

I also have concerns about whether or not it helps improve teamwork and guest service.

If anyone has information concerning tip sharing pros or cons, I would really like to know.

Thanks in advance,

Jeff - jdck9@macol.net

Send newsletter feedback and comments to us at newsletter@restaurantreport.com


Internet Tip

Insider Information

You know how great your managers are -- you know all about your chef's expert background and impressive resume -- but do your customers know?

Fact #1: People love insider information.

So give it to them -- share some tidbits with them about your chef(s) on your website. Let your managers tell a story. Make it possible for customers to connect with your staff -- let your customers know that your restaurant is full of real people that want to make the dining out experience as pleasurable as possible.

Fact #2: People love pictures.

Call it human curiosity -- folks want to know what other people look like. Have a photographer take pictures of your staff and post them on your website.

The Results: Your customers will enjoy the inside peek you're willing to share with them and your staff will know that you're committed to them and understand their value in your organization. A win-win situation.

*****
Jaime Oikle is the Co-Founder of Restaurant Report.


Bulletin Board

Have you any suggestions for links that would provide information regarding how many restaurants in Florida, percentage that goes out of business, etc ? Just some stats on the industry in Florida. I am sure they are available on the internet but have no clue. I'd appreciate any suggestions.

Thank you,
Shirley Dipace - mompace@gate.net

**Next Post**

I am looking at opening a new restaurant. I am having a terrible time finding a computer program to create an appealing menu. I use windows 95. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. If you have some info please email at: wenfri@cancom.net

Thanks - Wendy

**Next Post**

I am opening up a new health food restaurant. I need information on the following.

1. Average food cost (gross margin)
2. Growth trends in the health food industry.
3. How many more customers buying health food.

Any information that I can use for a business plan.

Thanks,
George - gjf@bellsouth.net


*****
Note @ the Bulletin Board: If you can lend advice/assistance/comments etc. please respond to either the individual directly or to us at newsletter@restaurantreport.com We'll summarize and post responses that we receive that would benefit the group.


NOTE: Please feel free to pass this newsletter along to anyone you feel it would be of value. You have our permission to print it out or email it to others as long as it is sent in its entirety including this message and the copyright below.

Copyright 1998 Restaurant Report
http://www.restaurantreport.com


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