Schwartz September 2019

Food for Thought – Good Service

Good service is priceless.

When you remember your favourite restaurants, it won’t just be the food you recall with fondness. Personable or brilliantly efficient waiting staff make a huge impact on the dining experience. But so does an encounter with someone surly, untrained or overbearing. With business as competitive as ever, not getting service right is a major problem.

You’ve laboured over the ingredients, found the right suppliers and honed your skills. You’ve tested and perfected dishes. But there is still the final link between the kitchen and table: the service.

A sulky or rude waiter or waitress can take the shine off even the most beauteous plate of well-crafted, precisely-presented food. Equally, an over-zealous, corporate zombie regurgitating marketing spiel and constantly asking if everything is OK, is equally annoying.

I do have some sympathy. Waiting on staff face irate kitchen staff and customers, manic service with too much to remember, dozens of heavy, hot plates to deliver and all manner of unexpected problems. I’ve done it and it’s a tough gig. But being polite is part of the job.

The cult of TripAdvisor and the ever-omniscient Twitter is making the service challenge even more critical for businesses. Today, a bad experience isn’t only shared with family and friends. Via social media, a bad review can influence the decisions of every potential customer with five minutes to spare and access to the Internet.

The key to really good service may come down to something that can’t be easily captured, but makes a world of difference. If staff feel like part of a team and are proud of the establishment, they will create a good impression no matter how savvy customers get. Have an honest think about how you prepare and work with your employees. Proper training is essential, not just for practical skills but also about how to communicate with diners.

Waiting staff are the face of your company. The good ones are worth their weight in gold. This remains true whether you’re serving a pub lunch or the finest in haute cuisine. With so much choice out there, poor service could be the thing that puts a customer off for good.

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