Improve Service by Managing the Wait


The “Please Wait to be Seated” sign creates anxiety when the host staff isn’t present. Teach your servers to look for and then acknowledge every waiting guest with a smile and  “Hi! The hostess will be right with you!” if he or she is off seating other guests. Make every customer feel wanted and appreciated the minute they set foot in your front door.

If you have a waiting list, teach your host staff to “sell” the wait rather than “challenge” the guest. A waiting guest experiences high anxiety. For instance, if there’s a 20-minute wait, the host or hostess has two options of how he or she could inform the guest:

Wrong: “Four for dinner? There is a 20-minute wait.” Translation: “Your move!”

Right: “Four for dinner? Great! Name, please? Where would you like to sit, Mr. Johnson? No problem, I can take care of that for you. There is a short 20-minute wait, but if you’d like to have a seat at the bar I’ll let you know the minute your table is ready. The bartender can set you up with one of our great appetizers or specialty drinks!” Translation: “I know you hate to wait, but I’ll do everything I can to make that wait as short as possible. I’m happy you’re here!”

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