by Richard Saporito
Anticipation and Reaction is a crucial concept in delivering and maintaining excellent restaurant dining room service. It is very important that all staff and management read the customers individually and the table as a whole--- ahead of time.
For example, a good waiter can often anticipate when a table will be ordering heavily off the menu. The waiter should react by spending some extra time at this table because, most likely, this table will order even more menu items ---if given that extra time. It makes for a more enjoyable party while boosting up the check total in the process.
Then, there are times when serious business people come in for lunch, order lightly, and pretty much want to be left alone to discuss business. With anticipation of the customer's needs, and reaction, the waiter should know to give efficient, unobtrusive service, yet not ignoring the table.
Then, there is the situation of the crying baby at the table. The smartest thing a waiter can do is to get some food out right away to distract and calm the baby. Often times, an order will be given consisting of appetizers and entrées, along with the baby's one small dinner order. With anticipation and reaction, the waiter should ask "Would you like me to put in the baby's dinner order along with the appetizer order?" The response by the parents, as they understand the purpose of serving the baby immediately, is usually a sigh of relief -"yes!"
It is also very important for the host to read the customers as soon as they walk through the front door to help provide the best table that fits the party. For example, if a couple walks into the restaurant locked in each other's arms, then a nice quiet table with some privacy would surely be the perfect fit.
Another situation is if a party of ten arrives looking to indulge in many cocktails while making quite a bit of noise in the process. With anticipation and reaction, the host should seat this party as close to the bar as possible. The bar patrons probably won't mind the extra noise, and it will be much easier for the waiter to give better service. Running heavy trays of cocktails back and forth from the bar to ten thirsty patrons will not be as tedious because the large party was sat in close proximity to the bar.
This mindfulness by the host also saves the waiter time and effort which can be afforded to other diners in the restaurant. And, most likely, there will be a higher beverage total generated by this large party because of the reduced travel time from the bar to the table.
Yes, anticipation and reaction by the staff and management will improve restaurant dining room service and increase profits!
Richard Saporito, founder of Topserve Consulting, has over 30 years of restaurant service experience in many large, diverse, and profitable New York City establishments ranging from small independents to large scale corporate operations. He uses this successful experience to help restaurants achieve their desired customer service goals understanding that it may be the difference between success and failure for those restaurants.
Topserve Consulting develops new restaurants and improves current restaurants with Training Programs and Consulting Services.
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