7 Ways to Be a Superstar Restaurant Host

So you’ve managed to land the position of the host at one of the hottest eateries in town. Go you! We know you’re going to rock this position, but in case you could use some tips, we’ve got your back!

Whether this is your first hosting job, or you’ve been at this for years, it never hurts to review the basics and figure out where you might have room to improve. Here are the down and dirty details on what it takes to really shine as a host or hostess for a restaurant.

1. Look the part.

This one starts before you even show up for work. As a host or hostess, you’re often the first person guests see when they visit a restaurant for the first time. And you’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression. This means you should always arrive for your shift well groomed, clean, and ready to go. Hair should be neat, makeup should be tasteful, and clothing should look professional. It should go without saying, but a host should never be playing with their phone, chewing gum, or eating at the host stand. Remember, you are the face of the restaurant.

2. Greet everyone who walks in the door promptly.

This should be a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get distracted when things are slow, or overwhelmed during a rush. As a host one of your main tasks is to welcome guests to your restaurant. A smile and a friendly greeting goes a long way toward making people feel welcome. This means, no matter how important whatever else you might be doing is, you stop and greet everyone. No exceptions.

3. Be organized.

There’s a lot going on at the host stand – more than most guests realize. You have a thousand things to keep track of, and during a busy shift, it may be hours before you have a chance to breathe for a moment. Keep everything organized and orderly, and you’ll find the task much easier to manage. Make sure you have all the supplies you need before your shift starts, including extras of things like pens or highlighters if you use them. Better yet, a waitlist app like NextME can make it easy to stay on top of everything digitally.

4. Honesty really is the best policy.

Never tell a guest it will be just a few minutes for a table, unless that’s actually true. Never make up an answer to a question if you’re not sure. Be realistic when relaying any type of information, and you’ll head off the kind of problems that could blow up in your face later.

5. Know your restaurant.

If you’re interacting with customers, you’re going to get questions. Lots of them. Whether it’s the phone call about special dietary restrictions, or people who just came in the door asking about special menu items or gift cards, you’re sure to get stumped now and then. Take a proactive approach and learn as much as you can about the menu and restaurant policies, and be sure to familiarize yourself with any specials or promos that are currently ongoing before you start your shift. The more you know, the easier these interactions will be.

6. Know your coworkers.

In every restaurant there are some members of the wait staff who can handle more than others. Being aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the team can make things run that much smoother. At the same time, you need to be fair when seating guests so that everyone has a chance to make some good tips. Don’t overload the best servers just because you know they can handle it. Spread the workload around and you’ll find everyone is appreciative, especially the guests!

7. Keep a good sense of humor and maintain composure.

This is probably the most important part of the job. A good host has to grin and bear it no matter what comes your way. You’ll probably deal with rude guests from time to time, but that’s just part of working with the public. Don’t take anything personally, no matter what they may say. Just laugh it off and move on. Likewise, when everything seems to be chaotic and you’ve got a million and one things on your plate, you still need to exude a sense of calm or risk spreading the chaos further. Above all, relax and take the good with the bad. You’re sure to run into plenty of both!

Ready to introduce NextME to your business? Call us at 408.909.6398 or schedule a demo from us HERE !


Restaurants Lose Out When Reservation Systems Feud

It’s a nightmare for any restaurateur: lots of empty tables on Valentines Day because of no-shows. The notoriously busy holiday, when everyone wants to wine and dine their sweetheart, is regarded as the second busiest day for the restaurant industry (falling just short of Mother’s Day). And no-show reservations cost big money.

But Valentines Day 2018 did not go so smoothly for several restaurants in Chicago. A rogue OpenTable employee had been using their rival, Reserve’s, reservations service to make hundreds of fake reservations at 45 restaurants across the city, culminating on Valentine’s Day. As soon as the fraudulent activity was noticed and tracked back, the employee was fired, but much of the damage had already been done.

While it seems the two reservation systems are ready to kiss and make up, the restaurant owners who bore the cost of this ill-advised campaign may not be so forgiving. Every no-show reservation means a table that sits empty. In some restaurants, it only takes a couple of empty tables to kill profits for an entire shift.

But what can you do when your reserved tables are handled by a third party? Overbook and hope nobody notices? Just take the hit? It’s a conundrum restaurateurs have dealt with for years.

An Alternative to Reservation Systems

Walk-in only restaurants never have to deal with no-shows. But of course, there are other issues that can cause them to lose money. Paging systems are expensive to purchase and maintain. Long lines and crowds near the door can turn away diners before they even make it out of the parking lot. But there is a better way.

With a restaurant waiting list app like NextME, hosts can give guests the freedom to wander, the ability to communicate, and all the info you like, right at their fingertips. Customers receive a text that includes a link to see their place in line. There, they can also view restaurant specials, browse your menu, engage with your social media, and feel more connected while they wait. No need to bother the hostess to see what place they hold in line — the link does that too. And if they want to spend their wait time visiting nearby shops or taking a stroll around the neighborhood, they’re not tethered by the limits of a paging system’s range.

In today’s constantly connected world, it just makes sense. Plus, the app can mean a reduction in walkouts of up to 25%!

Customers love it too, especially since they can use NextME without downloading a separate app! All they have to do is show up at a NextME restaurant, give the hostess a phone number, and wait for an SMS notifying them that their table is ready. Being able to check their place in line means they’re free to hang out at the bar around the corner, go to the nail salon down the street for a quick pedi, or spend some time browsing through their favorite boutiques and still make it back in time to be seated.

And your staff is going to appreciate how quick and easy it is to notify customers that their table is ready and keep track of the whole wait list at a glance. In fact, the app can help improve service speed through the whole dining experience as guests have a chance to peruse the menu and decide on their orders before they are seated.

But High End Restaurants Need to Take Reservations

While waitlist apps are wonderful for most restaurants in the full-service casual category, they may not work for others. High end restaurants may still need a way to book tables in advance. It needs to be user friendly, technologically relevant, and most of all, reliable and affordable for businesses.

Enter Tock. Founder Nick Kokonas found himself dismayed over some of the practices and policies of Open Table and other reservations systems, so he decided it was time to come up with an alternative. But how to balance the restaurant’s need for reliable reservations with a customer service oriented approach?

He found the answer in pre-paid reservations and deposits. The system allows restaurants to manage the way they handle their own reservations. On slow days, reservations are often free since there is minimal impact to the restaurant if they no-show. On busier days, diners may pay a reservation deposit up front, so the restaurant gets paid something even if they don’t come. Finally, for the busiest time slots, or big restaurant holidays like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, restaurants can sell pre-paid reservations to ensure those tables won’t lose money, no matter what happens. And best of all, restaurants can choose the balance of these booking options themselves, to optimize their table turns based on their own specific needs.

But does it work? Tock has achieved what was once considered impossible. They boast a 0.03% no show/no pay rate. That’s a dream come true for many high-end eateries!

The Bottom Line

Restaurants live and die based on their ability to quickly turn tables. No show reservations can cause major problems and with modern reservation systems, the power is completely out of your hands. When something goes wrong, whether it’s corporate manipulation, a mean-spirited prank, or simply guests being flaky, it can cost big money.

If an app like NextME can help you turn tables quicker, retain customers, and make life easier for your front of house staff, can you really afford not to give it a try?