Restaurant Service Training – Teach the Host How to Greet the Customers Properly

A moment of truth is an opportunity whereby a customer forms either a good impression or a bad impression about the restaurant service quality. Millions upon millions of “moments of truth” occur out there in the restaurant customer service world, but the successful businesses register the highest percentage rate of good impressions. It means everything to their image and reputation. This concept must be taught in every restaurant service training program.

The host is such an important part of the “dining room service experience” as he or she is the first person the customer sees and the last person the customer says goodbye. Great first impressions are great lasting impressions.Therefore, the host must dress nicely being neat and clean. The host must always be upbeat, friendly, and helpful to customers. The true purpose of guest seating is to make “every table seem like the best table in the restaurant!”

More concepts that must be taught in every restaurant service training program are as follows:

The telephone must be courteously answered stating the restaurant’s name and asking, “May I help you?” Whenever taking a dining reservation, one must politely ask for the name and the number of people in the party, date and time of the reservation, and the contact telephone number. Also, special requests should be noted, such as birthday guests, high chairs, customer food allergies, or the need to be seated at a specific table or location in the restaurant (for example, far from the window on a cold night; close to the window on a beautiful day). This information must then be recorded in a Reservation Journal that eventually will be transferred onto the Daily Reservation Sheet.

During busy hours, the customers waiting for an open table in the lobby or sitting at the bar can be offered menus to pass the time. In some restaurants, hors d’oeuvres are served to customers who have been waiting a long time for an open table. All ways and means must be exhausted to prevent customers from leaving to dine at another establishment-even if it means offering some complimentary items.

If the host is not busy seating customers, they can purvey the dining room for customers in need of service and relay such information to the waitstaff. This is up to the discretion of the host, for they should never stray too far from the Front Door.

So you see, the host who does the greeting at the front door is extremely important as the reputation and the bottom line are affected by the host’s restaurant customer service performance.

The Next Level in Service Excellence: Give, Share, Teach

No matter how you look at it, serving is about giving. In fact, giving, sharing, helping and teaching all go hand-in-hand. The Double-Platinum Rule is treat others the way they don’t even know they want to be treated. I believe, however, that there is a much bigger opportunity to capture the hearts and minds of our customers that transcends “exceeding expectations”. The bigger opportunity that I’m referring to has to do with giving, sharing and teaching something to your customers. Share your subject matter expertise without expecting anything in return. By doing so, you can add immeasurable value to your team, your profession, and your customer’s loyalty to the organization. Simply put – Give. Share. Teach.

Bow Ties

Recently, I visited the lovely MacArthur Place Hotel & Spa in Sonoma, CA. While there, I noticed that the food & beverage director always wore impeccable bow ties. Since I have always wanted to learn how to tie one, I asked him if he would mind teaching me before I left. However, since my schedule was so full during my hotel stay, I never had the time to meet with him. On the day of my checkout, a bellman brought a bag to my room, which contained… (you guessed it)… a new (and dapper) bow tie! There were also step by step instructions (with illustrations) on how to properly tie a bow tie. He also called me a few days later to see if I had any questions about tying the perfect bow tie. Give. Share. Teach.


During another trip to Sonoma, I had the opportunity to visit a few wineries for wine tastings. One of the wineries was called Artesa Vineyards & Winery and was located in the Carneros region between Sonoma and Napa Valley. The wine tasting consisted of four different wines. There was Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Up until that point, I had heard of Cabernet Franc, but didn’t know much else about that particular grape. When I inquired with the wine server, he explained that Cabernet Franc is one of the parents of the more famous Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact, he continued, “long ago, Cabernet Franc fell in love with Sauvignon Blanc and the offspring was Cabernet Sauvignon”. He also gave me a printed document with additional information about the Cabernet Franc and its history. Give. Share. Teach.


Since moving to the Washington DC metro area in 2004, I have been experiencing allergy-related symptoms during the springtime (allergy season). So each year, I would make the pilgrimage to my pulmonologist, who would listen to my lungs, hear me cough, check my throat, and eventually, prescribe allergy medications that would help me get better. This year, however, a friend of mine recommended for me to use a pro-active approach. Rather than passively wait for my allergy symptoms to reach an unbearable level, she recommended that I see the doctor before allergy season began, get the medications, and begin taking them daily to keep the symptoms at bay. So that is exactly what I did. I went to the doctor’s office, explained my strategy (or rather my friend’s strategy), and something interesting happened. He said, “I agree. One of the best ways to avoid suffering any allergy infections is to preemptively take the medications daily during allergy season.” At that moment, I tried to maintain my composure, because I wanted to blurt out, “Then why didn’t you tell me this years ago!!!” Give. Share. Teach.

It is never enough to comply with requests. Some people approach customer service like this: Take a request, comply with the request, repeat. Take a request, comply with the request, repeat. Kiosks can do the same thing. Don’t be a kiosk.

The true power in the human element of service excellence is how you make someone feel. As a result of being served by you, people should literally feel better about themselves. In fact, they should feel engaged, inspired and renewed!

So don’t just comply… anticipate needs. And don’t just anticipate needs… teach something. Add value to your customers’ lives by giving and teaching something that they didn’t realize they were missing. When you are able to do that consistently, then service becomes much more than a chore, or something that “you don’t mind doing”. It becomes a privilege and an honor. Knowing that you have made a positive difference in the life of someone else is truly what service is all about. Give. Share. Teach.


Here are some action steps that you can use to implement the “Give.Share.Teach.” service method.

1) First, understand and appreciate that you are a subject matter expert in some aspect of your role, company, and/or industry.

2) Identify at least one or two things that you can share with your customers (that they may not already know).

3) Brainstorm with your team about their subject matter expertise.

4) Select a few things that your team can give, share, and teach.

5) Prepare learning “take-aways” that you can give to your customers (i.e., a handout, website, book recommendations, etc)

6) Always ask your customers if there is additional information that they would like to know. This last step can be a great way to identify new things to Give. Share. Teach.