Guests form opinions within seconds — seconds waiting to be acknowledged, to be sat, to place a drink order, to get and pay the check. Eye contact and a warm smile go a long way in helping guests form a positive impression. The most lasting impressions, though, will come from what your employees say to guests. In your restaurant service training sessions, be sure to spend some time talking to your waitstaff about using the right words with guests.
Set the Tone for Speech in Your Restaurant
Not all employees have a hospitality skill set from day one. Your younger employees have grown up watching others on TV or social media talking in ways you probably don’t want them talking to your guests. Your sales and service training — as well as leading by example — will help ensure your staff talks to guests the same way you would.
“Okay” Never Is
As a manager or a server checking on a guest’s food order, never ask, “Everything taste okay?” That implies you’re shooting for just “okay.” Instead, say something like “Is your steak as good as I promised?”
Cut the Slang
Train your staff to not use slang with guests. Even if you’re a casual restaurant, some guests will form a negative impression of your restaurant when staff members use terms like these:
- When referring to a party of guests: “Dudes,” “man” or “guys.”
- When agreeing or liking something: “Cool,” “awesome,” “sick,” “dank,” “wicked”
- When responding to a guest: “Whatever,” “OK,” “No problem” (when used instead of “you’re welcome”)
Things NOT to Say to Guests
When waiting on customers, there are four phrases that should never be used. Pass these on to your servers:
- “I don’t know.” If you don’t know, brush up on your product knowledge and find out. Instead, say, “That’s a good question. Let me check for you.”
- “We can’t do that.” Instead, say, “That’s a tough one. Let me see what we can do.” Then go find an alternative solution.
- “I’ll be back in a second.” If you’ve ever said it to a guest, you’ve lied. Try the truth: “It may take me a two or three minutes to get back to you. Can I get you something from the bar on my way back?”
- “No…” at the beginning of a sentence. The word “no” conveys total rejection. Turn a negative answer into a positive: “We aren’t able to substitute a taco for an enchilada on the combo platter, but I can bring you an extra taco on the side.”
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