For a host, it’s important to make a good first impression on each customer. The few minutes a host spends welcoming a guest to the restaurant will set the rest of their team up for success. Although this article focuses on best practices for hosts, the following tips can improve workflow for employees in every part of a restaurant.

Anticipate Your Guests’ Needs

In every role, it’s a good idea for employees to arrive at work five to ten minutes early to prepare for the day. This is doubly true for restaurant hosts. They should arrive at the restaurant early enough that they can review the reservation list before guests start to arrive. 

If your restaurant utilizes a guest management platform, hosts will automatically have access to all the details they need about reservations and digital details about the guests. The data in your guest management software will also include names, food allergies, and special event types so every guest can receive VIP treatment, even from a brand new employee.

Guest Management software is critical if you want to keep waiting customers engaged while they wait to be seated. Give them the freedom to explore nearby, go for a walk, or relax at your bar until your app automatically texts them that their table is ready. Many modern guest manager apps also take reservations, which allow guests to get in line with the app before they even arrive.

Know When It’s Time to Get Busy

Every restaurant has a unique rhythm. And the host, like a drummer, is in charge of keeping time so everyone on the team can move forward together.

If your restaurant is using a point of sale system then you may already have data to tell you what times of day are busiest, and when you tend to be overstaffed. This empowers hosts to prepare for each hour of the day, and make sure they take breaks only when appropriate.

Peak and off-peak times are different for every type of restaurant: if run a popular brunch spot, your golden hours will be different from those at a nightclub. 

By using guest management integrated into your point of sale systems, you and your hosts  will also be able to make long-term predictions about the flow of business. For example, if most of your clientele are college students, you may see some drastic changes between summer and fall. Knowing what to expect creates more time for managers to schedule accordingly and employees to pay personalized attention to every customer. 

Go with the Flow

Modern technology empowers hosts to stay in constant contact with the rest of the staff – without ever leaving their stand unattended. Customized digital floor maps give employees a bird’s eye view of each table’s status in real time. By keeping an eye on the dining room and staying in touch with servers, employees can ensure great pacing for every meal, so that no diner leaves feeling rushed.

Hosts who keep up with the flow can increase the number of table turns during each shift. Using guest management software to predict wait times will improve the speed and accuracy of this process. That translates into more revenue for your restaurant! Better service also improves tips, which impacts your team members directly, improving staff morale and loyalty.

Presentation

Studies have shown us that 55 percent of communication is nonverbal. As the first person a customer sees when they come into your restaurant, it’s the host’s job to make everyone feel welcome. 

Even if a host is busy in a different conversation, they should try to acknowledge each guest as they walk in the door. Train your hosts to make eye contact, give a warm smile, and say hello if at all possible. Also, make sure they dress for success – and know that this means something different in each work environment. Attire most likely would change if you’re greeting PBR drinkers at a dive bar versus wine connoisseurs at a 5-star hotel. 

The Host with the Most Preparation

At the end of the day, hosting is a game of anticipation and preparation. These rockstar employees have to know what guests want, and know how to give it to them quickly. Most important of all, they need to do it with a smile, letting diners know that their experience matters.

If your host is juggling several things at once –  accepting reservations on pen and paper, answering phones, and trying to greet customers waiting in line – they’re sure to have more difficult encounters than if you had the technology to streamline these tasks. As the restaurant operator, it’s up to you to give them the tools they need to provide the best possible service. 

Being a restaurant host may seem simple – and it is certainly a fun and rewarding job. As the literal face of the business, hosts are a vital part of the dining experience. Make sure your restaurant’s hosts are properly trained to make a positive impression on each guest, so they’ll keep coming back not just for your food, but for your hospitality as well.