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The 13 Elements of Proper Service

You sell two things at your restaurant or bar; Proper Service and Great Product. Asmanagers and chefs, it is your job to provide the product. As a server or line cook, bartender, or hostess, it is your job to provide the service. Service can be broken down into thirteen "Elements of Proper Service".

1. Prompt And Proper Greeting At The Door

It is the responsibility to each of us to greet guests when necessary; at times when the host is away from the door, stop to let new guests know someone will be right with them.

2. Well Maintained, Clean Working Environment

waiter, server, waiter with tray

A clean, well-maintained environment sends a strong message to guests. It makes them comfortable and confident that they are in a healthy, professional and caring environment.

3. Proper Introduction At The Table

A prompt greeting should be done within two minutes. A proper introduction is polite, energetic, professional and unhurried. The signs of a great server are patience, persistence and resilience.

4. Appearance

When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you perform better. When guests see you neatly attired, they automatically relax. Appearance is part of the product; you and the restaurant will be judged by it.

5. Product Knowledge

Every server, bartender and manager at your establishment has to be well versed in every thing you offer. Product knowledge increases your confidence. Product knowledge is indispensable in proper service. When you know your product, you can sell it. When the guests have confidence in you, they are much more likely to take your recommendations and to listen to you.

6. Salesmanship

Efficient, charismatic, dynamic and knowledgeable. Good salesmanship enhances the customer’s experience by offering the customer the attention that establishes the standard of the dining experience. And ultimately the customers estimation of your importance and value in the overall experience.

7. Running Food

Be the kind of restaurant where everyone is constantly on the go. Since food is consistently being put in the window it is essential that it be brought to the table as quickly as possible. Everyone runs food whenever they are leaving the kitchen. Getting food to the guests hot is your #1 priority! It also helps everyone in assuring proper service.

8. Course Service

It may take you some time to learn how the kitchen works in order to establish your system for timing courses. (note times may vary in your establishment but talk to the managers and kitchen personnel so you can find what works for your place)
food and beverage underground3 minute wait for beverages
food and beverage underground10 minute wait for appetizers (remember some are very quick wile others may take a few more minutes)
food and beverage underground20 minute wait for entrees
food and beverage underground5 minutes wait for after dinner drinks and desserts

9. Customer Satisfaction

Check back with a table within three minutes of serving them. When you do verbally check back, stay positive and specific. It is not necessary to ask every one. Be on the alert for non-verbal cues that all is not well. Try to catch some ones’ eye whenever you walk by the table. If there is a problem with the food, remove it and get it fixed. As always, alert a manager. Whatever the problem is tableside we will take care of it. Every guest MUST leave extremely happy. OK is not what we’re striving for…look for great!

10. Table Maintenance

In order to increase guest comfort, and to smooth the transition from one course to the next, always be aware of your table maintenance.

food and beverage undergroundBefore delivering a course, check for silverware resets. Never ask a guest to reuse a dirty utensil pull it and replace it.

food and beverage undergroundAlways remove dirty plates before delivering the next course in order to avoid table gridlock and the appearance of rushing.

food and beverage undergroundNever approach a table without something the guests needs and never leave without something they don’t.

food and beverage undergroundAnything that is on the table that is no longer needed by the guest needs to be removed.

food and beverage undergroundWhen the check is presented, the table should already be pre-bussed back to coffee cups, water glasses and dessert plates, if applicable.

food and beverage undergroundWipe the table whenever necessary.

food and beverage undergroundAs always, don’t hesitate to help your fellow servers maintain their tables.

food and beverage undergroundAlways cap ashtrays and keep them clean. Two butt maximum!

11. Teamwork and Communication

Communication is an essential aspect of teamwork and a vital component of proper service. If a guest needs something that you can’t get for him, find the person who can. Communicate any menu changes (ex. 86’d items). Tell everyone and anyone what you need and what you know. It is impossible to achieve the other thirteen elements of the guest experience without teamwork and communication. There is no chance for proper service without communication.

12. Floor Presence; Availability to Anticipate and React to Guest Needs

In order to provide the best and proper service; always be available to your guests. The difference between good service and excellent is the ability to anticipate, rather than react to guests needs. Notice not what they need, but what they are about to need.

13. A Reason to Return; Going Above and Beyond

This is where your creativity and personality comes out. Always be on the look out for the little things that you can do for your guests. Do whatever you think is that thoughtful, creative and extraordinary gesture to make yourself and your restaurant stand out from the crowd. Remember, Whatever it Takes!

From Proper Service To Waiters and Up-Selling

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