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It is essential to post proper floor diagrams with position points in strategic areas of a restaurant in order to provide excellent dining room service. You cannot rely on the fact that the floor diagrams are in the computer system either.

Case in point #1: What happens when a new waiter, carrying 3 hot pasta plates, walks from the kitchen into a busy dining room alone and cannot distinguish which is the correct table where the food must arrive? Does the waiter put the 3 hot pasta plates down somewhere and then log into the computer to see which is the correct table? I don’t think so. The waiter is going to guess possibly resulting in a costly mistake of the food going to wrong table. If the floor diagram was posted properly in an inconspicuous location for the waiter to take a quick glance at, then the food arrives at the table quickly and smoothly.

Case in point #2: I recently had a situation at a restaurant where the owner was changing the dining room table numbers during the actual shift–spelling disaster. His explanation was that he needed to keep track of coupons being distributed for the restaurant’s marketing campaign which used a separate numbered table for each individual coupon.

The owner did not realize there was no way to provide superb restaurant customer service by using this system. It was no wonder that the delicious and delicately prepared food was quite often being brought to the wrong table by the dining room service staff. How many times does this happen in one night, one week, one month? Why not take a handful of money and just throw it out the front door?

Below, I have outlined a few simple, but important concepts to help improve restaurant customer service. There are too many operations that do not implement these concepts which cause many unnecessary mistakes. This translates into lost revenue and a poor service reputation that will repel repeat business.

Here is how it works:

Dining room floor diagrams, with correct numbering for each table and position point (explained below), must be clearly printed and handed out to all dining room service staff, with extra printed copies available for any future waiter that is hired. These essential diagrams must be placed in strategic locations for all staff to easily view, preferably out of the customer’s sight.

It is essential that position points are established if there is any attempt to improve restaurant customer service. Basically, any diner in the restaurant can be identified by a particular table number and seat number. Keeping up with position points will not be a problem for a waiter as long as all dining room service staff knows the arrangement ahead of time. It is most important to establish position point #1 for each table. The easiest way of determining the position point #1 is to have the customer’s back directly in line (or as close as possible) with a particular location in the restaurant, such as the kitchen, front/back door or perhaps a particularly visible item of decor.

Every customer whose back is closest to this particular location is position #1. Once that is established, rotate clockwise around the table, identifying each customer as position #2, 3, and so on. If a seat is empty, a position number should be assigned to it anyway, as a guest may be arriving late. If customer position points are not used, a waiter, holding hot and heavy plates, will be calling out dishes to customers because they do not know the exact position placements. This wastes precious time and energy, not to mention how unprofessional it looks. Moreover, the customers, often in mid conversation or laughter will be unnecessarily interrupted.

Position points must be clearly explained in every waiter training program. The main objective is for the waiter to serve the food and beverage accurately, safely and cleanly. This is more likely to happen when there is prior knowledge of the table and seat numbers far ahead of time.

The above concepts give the dining room service staff “a sense of where they are,” which is extremely important especially if the restaurant is new or the staff is new to the restaurant. It enhances the ability to communicate, which in turn, will improve restaurant customer service all around for everyone.


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