The Expectations of Our Team
Top Ten Qualities Of A Great Server
The simplest gesture and most common form of politeness, when eye contact is made this is when you pull this guy out and wait for the returning smile. Hostesses normally get told to smile just before they pick up the phone because you can hear the smile come through their voice. One smile normally leads to another one :D.
It comes in many forms whether you pull a chair out for a guest, ask how someones day is, open a door for someone, smile (two birds with one stone) the list could go on. It’s these small acts of kindness that can leave a happy feeling with your guest.
You don’t need to be the center of the social scene, if you can have a conversation with a stranger comfortably then this is an advantage to you. You just need to be yourself and relax when talking with your tables. Engaging with your guests can help build rapport which in return will increase your tips.
Guests love it when you anticipate their needs before they even ask you. For example if you noticed a guests coffee or pop getting low swing on by with another one without them having to ask you. Knowing what is going on with all your tables is a skill.
If someone is walking around the restaurant looking lost simply point them in the right direction, if a guests hands are full when they are leaving then open the door for them. This one has benefits much the same as the ones from kindness.
Knowing the food and drinks menu is one thing, but knowing the region of a wine that a guest has just ordered and telling them a quick story or fact about it is going to show your tables that they are in good hands. You don’t need to overdo it, but being ready with answers to questions which may not be a normally asked is good for both you and your guests.
Everyone has different taste so if a guest asks you what you would recommend or what your favorite dish is there is no wrong answer. This is a question directed at your opinion so if you answer with confidence and let them know why it is you chose that particular item then you can win some brownie points when the dish you recommended was a hit.
Makes us feel comfortable
People are in a better mood when they feel secure and comfortable. If you treat every person that walks in the door as if they were a guest in your home, then you will make a lot more money than someone who treats their guests like strangers who are eating at a restaurant they work in.
Makes us feel special
When people think they are getting better treatment than those around them it makes them feel great. If you can master the art of making each and every table you serve feel special you can increase your average tips and the general mood of your section will be uplifting for you.
Don’t lie, be honest and genuine with your tables. People prefer to hear you say “Sorry I dropped your meal while I was bringing it out” and not “It shouldn’t be too much longer, they’re working on it now” or “The kitchen screwed up”. We are human and we make mistakes and people are understanding of that. It shows respect when you are being genuine, and put yourself in their shoes, wouldn’t you want someone to be honest with you?
What Makes A Great Server?
Servers become great because they endure difficulty and stay focused on results. They work at their craft, just as any professional does. They work to improve food, wine and bar knowledge, prepare themselves everyday, and have great endurance. Above all else, they become great servers because they want to, and they are willing to put in the effort.
Perhaps the most undervalued and rare quality in a great server. They are people willing to hear what a guest says without hearing how the guest says it. They are able to put bad tables or tips or experiences quickly behind them and move onto to the next table. We at Le Grand practice a 'guest first' mentality. We are not just taking food to a table. Guests entrust us with their evening, their experience, their special occasion. We take care of this like we are taking care of a treasure for them. Every visit is special and no relationship is ever purely transactional.
The ability to anticipate a guest's need is an essential facet of a server's job. Anticipation is a guest-centered mindset. It requires the ability to think beyond the traditional service, and it usually only surfaces in a server's performance when that person is taking ownership in his or her work space. Asking yourself questions about them and putting yourself in their shoes goes a long way towards this. "What is the purpose of their visit?", "Do they have everything they need?", "What mood are they in?" Guests highly value a server who anticipates their needs. And this is because (for almost every one of us) there is nowhere else we can go in life to be waited on in this manner.
Seeing the details is how many restaurants get to charge more than they should. If your restaurant is undervaluing its menu, you should consider excelling at the details and raising prices. Like anticipation, the ability to see details can't be taught. It's also hard to gauge this in an interview or during training.
Details are everywhere at the table, the seam on the linen, the placement of glassware, the dust on the partition between booths, clearing the table in one visit. Most guests don't see most details. But getting all of the details right gives a sense of quality that has immense value in this business.
The temperature of your guests refers to their willingness to build rapport, be sold on your restaurant and their general mood at the table. Servers who can quickly assess their guests know what they can sell, how to talk and how to stay out of the way. Some guests only want to be heard and some guests only want to be ignored. Getting this wrong can mean complaints, disgruntled guests, or worse.
However, correctly gauging your guests' temperature leads to building solid rapport and excellent sales. It is the best way to present your business, and it starts with an excellent server greeting the table.
The Ability to Sell
Merchandising your menu, wine list and bar is another excellent quality that gets too frequently overlooked. Your menu may sell itself and maybe your guests tend to know what they want when they enter your restaurant. But the ability to squeeze out just one added appetizer, dessert or side dish per table can mean an extra couple grand on the bottom line each month for a restaurant with average volume.
Excellent salesmanship at the table is far more than suggestion and perseverance (though these traits are essential). It is the ability to advocate the menu with expertise and enthusiasm at every table. Expertise requires the work to know the menu and what it means to the guest. Enthusiasm requires effort and energy. And while some people are naturally inclined toward these traits, they are definitely the product of work and professionalism.
There is no more important quality in a great server than the ability to sell your restaurant. These are the building blocks of money-making restaurants and servers.
A server who knows how to present himself and your food is a brilliant asset. This means his uniform is sharp and pressed everyday and he is appealing for guests to look at. Food and wine presentation are hallmarks of fine-dining and imperative for restaurants with those aspirations.
Presentation makes average food seem good and good food seem great. Alternatively, poor presentation can take the spark right out of an evening. Very few restaurants work to present their food and front-of-the-house impeccably anymore. This means that those that do stand out from the crowd.
Many great servers lack the ability to work well with others. I believe this is because many great professionals in all walks of life lack teamwork skills. It is too often the nature of great servers to be entitled, complacent or self-centered with their work. Not at Le Grand. Teamwork reflects well upon the server at the table and is a great asset for us and the team. Guests are surprisingly aware of how happy servers are to be at work, or how well they interact with other servers.
Good teamwork brings other servers to help at a table, because the great server is helping them at theirs. Teamwork refers to re-stocking, cleaning and taking ownership, all of which makes an impact at the table. Good servers tend to steer toward entitlement or becoming a prima donna. Great servers work to help those around them improve, and are a major asset to themselves, their colleagues, their customers and the restaurant.
Front Server takes care of the customers, orchestrates the service, manages the beverages and has strong menu and wine list knowledge.
Back Server takes care of the food, the table top and maintenance of the table.
Service Sequence / Customer Experience
Dinner is Given, Brunch/Lunch Notes are Preceded by **
1. Customer enters restaurant
Host greets customer with “Welcome to Le Grand” or “Welcome Back!” if they are returning customers
Host inquires about customer reservation. If no reservation, notifies customer of current wait time, if any
Host seats customer, pulls out chairs for females
Host presents menus to customers, placing the menus in their hands
Host clears any extra settings
Host lets customer know the Server will be right with them.
“Enjoy your lunch/brunch/dinner, Rachel will be right with you.”
*Never seat at a table that is not set* *Present menus to women first, then men* *As you lead a party to their table, walk at a pace that’s appropriate for them—more slowly for older people*
2. Customer Seated
Back Server serves water to table
Front Server greets table, introduces him or herself and back Server
Front Server offers cocktails, or help selecting a beer or wine
Front Server serves cocktails, beer or wine
Front Server does specials presentation, lets the table know about any 86’s or short count items, asks if there are questions about the menu
Front Server takes order
Back Server brings bread and butter to table
**For Brunch/Lunch, Front Server combines greeting, specials presentation, and cocktail order, all in one visit
*No lifting glass to fill water
*No “topping off” of water - only replenish when less than ⅓ full
*Try to avoid getting ice in water glasses
*Always carry drinks on a tray, not in your hands
*If a bottle of white wine has been ordered, offer an ice bucket, don’t assume one is necessary
*Be sensitive about pouring bottle wine—some people prefer to pour their own. It’s ok to ask
*Back Server never sells to the table
3. Customer Has Ordered
Front Server enters order into Point of Sale.
Front Server performs wine service, if bottle wine is ordered
Back Server presets, marks expo ticket, then brings appetizers to table
Front Server does check-back to see if customer is satisfied with food, needs anything
Back Server clears initial food service (no crumbing till after main course, unless customer requests)
Front Server checks drinks and wine throughout service
Front Server always checks to ensure proper tableware is present for next course (steak knife, shell bowl, etc)
Back Server brings out main course
Front Server does check-back to see if customer is satisfied with food, needs anything
Back Server performs full clearing down to wine and water glass, crumbs table if necessary
Front Server presents dessert menus, offers coffee and after dinner drinks
**For Brunch/Lunch, if no coffee or dessert are wanted, Front Server immediately presents check
Front Server check back to take dessert order
Back Server delivers dessert, coffee
Front Server determines if table is finished, presents check
Front Server receives payment, closes table in POS
Front Server returns receipt to table, thanks customer
A Few Notes
*Table clearing/serving can be done by hand only if you are able to manage everything in one run. Otherwise, you must bring a tray and jack stand—it is unacceptable to have to make several visits to a table to fully clear it
*Always mark from a tray, don’t carry silverware in your bare hands
*We serve on the customer’s left and clear from the right, when possible
*Round plates should be placed with the protein at the customer’s 6 o’clock; ovals and rectangles with the protein to the customer’s right
*Always make a thorough visual check at the table. Before walking away, ask yourself if they have everything they need and be sure to remove anything that they do not need
*Check back with table no later than two minutes after the food is served or after the customer has taken her second bite of food. Be sure that the customer is happy
*Our policy is to clear a course after everyone at the table is finished eating that course. The only exception to this rule is when a member of the party obviously wants the plate cleared, indicated by pushing it away or toward the edge of the table.
*Coffee and hot tea should be served on the customer’s right side, with the cup handle at
*When presenting the check, place the check presenter standing up on the table—this makes it easier to tell later whether the check has been reviewed
3. Customer has departed
Hostess thanks customer as they exit the restaurant
Front Server/Back Server set table