Hosts run front of house from the stand by greeting guests, assigning servers, fielding complaints and making sure every diner is well taken care of. Being a good restaurant host is demanding but rewarding work.
This guide provides 10 key skills to develop to become an excellent restaurant host.
1. Be Proactive
As senior waitstaff, hosts are expected to make sure that guests are being fully attended to by servers. This comes from anticipating in advance and taking control of the situation.
This comes from experience and having a keen understanding of front of house operations. It could be anything from filling a customer’s drink before they ask to changing table assignments to make room for a last minute party.
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2. Juggle Priorities
One of the most complicated aspects of being a great host is juggling priorities. You must know which customers to seat first and where, how many guests are in each server’s section and so much more.
A good host can make every guest feel well attended to while figuring out who can wait and who needs service right away.
3. Improve Based On Feedback
Being able to take customer feedback as an opportunity to grow is important. As a host, you should strive to find the root cause of customer complaints and seek to resolve the underlying issue.
Is there something that could have been done differently to improve the guests’ experience? Take their feedback as a chance to improve service for the next diner.
4. Plan For Service
Planning for the day means setting yourself up for success. With a host stand management system like Rezku Prime you can see all your upcoming reservations. Manage both online and in house reservations and pre-assign tables before the guests even arrive.
When you add guests to the waitlist during service you can use auto-assign to make sure they are being seated in the most efficient locations.
5. Pre-Assign Servers To Sections
By pre-assigning scheduled servers to their sections for the night you’ll be ready when they come in. You can fill each server’s section according to their shift and how the night is going.
With a table management app like Rezku Waitlist your servers are saved in the system, ready to be assigned tables with just a tap.
6. Keep Track Of Table Status
Knowing the status of each of your tables throughout service is vital to an efficient service. Traditionally this has been difficult using paper and pen systems. The host has to walk around or check the status of tables visually.
With Rezku Reservations hosts can see if a table is open, has an impending reservation, is being bussed or if a party is about to leave. This makes optimizing your dining room a cinch. Bussers can use an app on their phone to update table statuses while the host can focus on seating guests.
7. Greet All Guests Warmly
The most important thing a host can do to make a positive impression on guests is by greeting them with a smile. A simple phrase like “we’re so glad you’re dining with us today” can go a long way to creating a memorable dining experience.
While this is an essential feature of a good host, when things get busy it’s easy to overlook. However, guests will take note of your ability to give them sufficient attention at the host stand and anticipate how the rest of service will be.
8. Track The Number Of Diners
Tracking party size and cover count is a key role of hosts in the restaurant. This data is used to project sales and for scheduling upcoming shifts. While this can be demanding to do with paper and pencil Rezku’s table management systems track this information for you automatically.
After a busy night you can view your stats in back office, track the growth of service over time or observe the effects of seasonality. This is incredibly important data to the restaurant.
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9. Resolve Customer Issues
Hosts must maintain composure when dealing with irate guests. If they have received poor service the host is responsible for resolving the guests' complaint.
It takes tact and empathy to understand a diner’s issues without taking them personally. It’s important to understand why they are upset so that service can improve in the future. But it’s equally important to resolve the issue for the customer to ensure repeat business.
10. Manage Stress Effectively
With so much going on that they are responsible for it’s important for restaurant hosts to be able to effectively manage stress. Keeping a positive attitude and not taking out negativity on coworkers or guests is a key responsibility for the host.
As team leaders in the restaurant, other servers will look to them for cues on how to deal with challenges in the restaurant. If they bring a salty attitude or ignore guests then servers will begin to think that this is acceptable.
Despite the challenges, restaurant hosts must stay calm under pressure.
Restaurant hosts are the liaison between guests and front of house staff, managing multiple tasks at once to ensure the best experience for all diners. Effective restaurant hosts are proactive, anticipating what needs to be done ahead of time.
They must juggle multiple demands and determine their priorities. Taking honest feedback from customers to improve service, effective restaurant hosts improve restaurant operations. By planning ahead of service and assigning servers they can prepare themselves and the rest of the team for what comes next.
Keeping track of table status can be much easier when using a tablet based table management app, allowing hosts more time to greet guests while automatically tracking guest count and party size.
Hosts are called upon to deal with customer satisfaction issues and provide resolutions, all while maintaining composure and managing stress.