How Strong is Your Host Staff?
Most owners and managers understand the importance and value in excellent service. Therefore, they spend a great deal of time working with their wait staff and bartenders. But how much training does your host staff receive?
Hosts and Hostesses are an important part of the puzzle that make an operation run smoothly and are responsible for the first (and last, if trained properly) impression that your guest receive. And as we all know, first and last impression are imperative in the hospitality business and your host staff can have quite a damaging effect on your guest counts if not trained properly.
Here are some things to keep in mind when training your host staff.
Hire the right people for the job. Don’t make the mistake of hiring someone on previous work experience alone. Your host staff should be polite, articulate, able to multi-task and think quickly. They should also be highly organized as they coordinate and manager the flow of the floor.
Keep track of each station. Make a chart of each station with numbered tables that all of the hosts memorize. Make sure that they carefully track the last section they sat in order to distribute the tables evenly among the servers. Pre-arranging suitable tables for reservations before a busy shift and keeping track of parties’ arrival and wait times to keep the host stand running smoothly.
Speak Up. Hosts should greet guest with a smile and welcome them to the restaurant. Make sure they ask questions (i.e. number of patron in the party, if they are all in attendance, if they prefer a booth or table) and answer all questions intelligently including menu items.
Be aware of guests needs. If it’s busy and a guest enters, make sure your staff acknowledges the guest by saying, making eye contact or gesturing to them and stating, "I will be right with you." Once guests are taken to their table, don’t throw the menus down and leave without saying anything. Take notice if something is missing from the table setting and bring it over before being asked.
Maintain supplies. Prior to and after a shift hosts should adequately restock supplies. This includes forms, highlighters, pens, menus and other supplies used by hosts. However, this also includes napkins, silverware and cleaning supplies if a service station is not close to the host stand.
Walk the floor. The only way for a host to know the progression of tables is to see how many tables are finishing their meal or have paid their check. While walking the floor they should be prepared to get water refills, napkins or carryout boxes and help to clear and set tables when necessary.