by Richard Saporito
Restaurant Service Consulting, by definition, is a review or evaluation of the restaurant dining room service system. This means, "how the dining room runs" which includes all of the service tools provided (or to be provided) by the management.
These tools include readable floor diagrams, seating coordination, menu descriptions, properly done staff schedules, sidework postings and a whole host of other things.
There are two main aspects to the Restaurant Service Consulting field:
1) On-site Restaurant Dining Service Operations Evaluation and Review
2) Waiter Training
After the dining room service system is organized properly, the waitstaff is now ready to be trained. The big mistake is to train the waitstaff without having understandable and coordinated systems in place.
If there are flaws in the service system, then even the most highly trained and experienced waitstaff will make errors translating into unnecessary headaches and lost revenue. It is plain common sense to train a staff according to that particular restaurant's procedures otherwise the balance and consistency of customer service will be thrown off.
At times, in my restaurant consulting experiences, I find that owners/operators can be very hesitant to let an outsider do the initial restaurant evaluation prior to waiter training for a score of reasons such as fear of embarrassment, dealing with egos being stepped on during the process, not wanting anyone to be very close to operations etc.
In truth, a restaurant and its dining room service cannot progress over time without experienced, objective, constructive criticism -- whether it comes from the outside or within.
Restaurant service system flaws can continue on for years without being corrected costing time, money, and headaches. And just the same, waiter service technique flaws can go on for years as well.
Sometimes, it's not necessarily deep rooted flaws, but just a better, faster, more organized and streamlined way of going about procedures -- no matter how small the solutions may seem to be. Time is money when it comes to the repetitive nature of dining room service and there are no two ways about it.
To improve restaurant performance, you need to know what areas are in need of improvement. The Restaurant Manager should ask for feedback from experienced staff and repeat customers as well.
Once you know what you are doing right and what needs work, you can develop systems and documentation to improve your establishment.
Many times, it's simply a matter of confusion as the "left hand" doesn't seem to know what the "right hand" is doing (or why). You'll find that clear communication between all staff members and management goes a long way in helping you achieve your restaurant performance goals.
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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