The restaurant host can be one of the most under-appreciated and difficult jobs in the industry. Between juggling information, keeping a multitude of personalities happy, and running each group on a schedule, a good host has a ton to do, and it all depends on a precarious balance that the host has to keep in play.
Being a good host can be learned, though; with some experience, and the help of these host hacks and tips, a host can seamlessly move to up the career ladder. Start today with these tips from the host stand. First up are pro-tips for taking reservations:
Be friendly and accessible
This is the restaurant industry’s golden rule, always: treat people how you would want to be treated. And whether you’re taking reservations remotely or in-person, this is the first step to excelling in your position.
Smile at the diner-to-be (even if you’re on the phone), and start the conversations by asking how can you help. You never want the guest to have to ask to make a reservation. Even if your guest is hoping to dine at an inconvenient time, or has asked for a reservation last-minute, you should be accommodating and patient.
Remember, you are the restaurant’s first impression, so you want to make it a good one!
Be knowledgeable about guests
Aside from asking guests when they’d like to dine and how many are in their party, you’ll want to get some background information as well. Not only will it impress guests but also be very helpful to the servers and kitchen staff. Some items ask about when taking reservations:
- Dietary restrictions (vegan, gluten-free, peanut allergies?)
- Table preference
- Size of the group
- Contact details
- Time and date of reservation
An important note about the final point above, be sure to very nicely suggest an alternate time if the requested time is unavailable; you could easily lose business by letting this opportunity pass!
With so much going on, you’ll definitely want to have an organization system in place so you can balance the many guests, servers and tables without losing your cool. This way, when last-minute guests do come in, you’ll be able to adjust for them easily.
Be sure to have a chart of all the servers on duty and keep track of their tables and guests throughout the night so that you don’t seat walk-ins in a busy section. This information will also be useful if a table is not turning over; you’ll know how to reorganize and where to seat the next round of diners.
Your restaurant should have a digital reservation system, but if they don’t, be sure to make note of all reservations on a physical form somewhere; the brain isn’t made to remember too many various details by itself!
Always know when someone arrives
With in-person reservations and guests alike, you need to always be accessible, and on top of your game. One key element, which can seem very small, is to acknowledge each person as they enter the restaurant, especially someone without an existing reservation.
Be sure that each person feels special, and that their reason for entering is addressed quickly and thoughtfully.
Not only will you make people happy right at the start of their dining experience, but you’ll cut down on walk-outs by being present and engaged with everyone.
These quick tips on success at the host stand will help you to stand out and improve the experience for diners, too. You’ll find that you can go far when you follow these hacks on taking reservations and be sure to check back for more host hacks coming in the next few weeks.