Be Ready For Service!

Mise en place redux

Vas Das Über Goal? (What Is The Primary Goal?)

You are standing at the pre shift-event meeting and the event Captains closing remark is,
“OK everyone, let’s have a good event today.”

Sounds like the usual lack luster pep talk approach to inspiring staff to do their best during an event. Come on, what kind of lazy direction is that? I have heard more inspiration and direction from little league coaches.

Of course you could resort to traditional verbal trashing and threats of dismissal. These dark ages’ management techniques are losing their effectiveness on today’s better educated serving and bar tending staffs.

If you carefully read online event reviews for caterers or venues, the comments gravitate towards the quality of service provided.

That’s where the complaints and praise about service are usually listed for the entire world to see. Go look online at the reviews for the company where you work at and competitors. Staff taking a slightly different approach would have eliminated most of the “poor” review postings.

Seldom are comments posted about lousy food. Sure there are some. I have actually worked events where food served was not up to the usual 5 star expectations. However, because the service was so friendly and attentive — no one cared too much that the food was off.

The goal for the serving and bartending staff needs to be different from just racking up hours and tips. Often event staffs are charged with several goals or priorities such as keep the guests from getting to drunk or to keep the overtime down.

Event staff needs an “Über Goal” a guiding principle or super or primary goal to aspire towards. This above all other goals helps to prioritize and focus the service on the guest’s first, and other goals as secondary.

Any number of directions can be given to help guide the staff. My favorite and most effective “Über Goal” is, “Every interaction with each guest, needs to be positive from the guest’s point of view.” That’s what counts at the end of the event.

The Japanese term “Ichi-go ichi-e” (literally “one time, one meeting”) describes a cultural concept associated with the tea ceremony. The term is often translated as “for this time only,” or “one chance in a lifetime.”

Remember: Pay attention to the moment, don’t blow it — make the best of it! An event last a few hours, memories (Bad and good) last a life time.

Focus on the Über goal. This focus guides staff to make the right decisions, so the overall event is a success. This practice leads to less corrective action conversations and more lavish praise and positive enforcement comments! Everyone is a winner here.

The staff will surprise the guests, themselves and their managers, because the staff will take it upon themselves to look for opportunities to provide elevated levels of service and random acts of kindness. The guests will rave.

Here’s few pointers…

 “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”Wayne Gretzky

Anticipate Guests Needs

Where are the guest rest rooms, coat check and bars located? Is there a stand to hold wet umbrellas? Are extra flatware and napkins readily accessible during service? Is Ranch dressing around for the children’s meals?

I worked with a planner who provided bushel baskets stuffed with rolled up inexpensive throws from IKEA. These cool weather throws were always a big hit at parties close to the ocean and during late summer or early fall gatherings everywhere.

Give some serious thought to anticipating the guest’s needs in advance of the event. Once you start it becomes easy, fun and rewarding and your brain will offer up some more ideas, providing you act on them!

Next time you attend someone else’s event as a guest take notes — you might see some good service practices to include in your bag of tricks or perhaps some actions to avoid.

Reacting to Guests Needs

Stop; what ever you are doing, or finish up if you must, whenever a guest make a request or ask a question.

Look; at them. Make eye contact. Give them your undivided attention as if nothing else in the world mattered at that moment, because nothing else does. Now is a good time to stop the twitter update and put the cell phone away.

Listen; to what they are asking and or telling you. Repeat the request back to them to confirm and make sure you got it. Some times they change their mind. “You would like a Martini. Do you prefer Gin or Vodka?” is an example.

Respond; 99% of the time the answer ought to be along the lines of, “Of course. No problem. Happy to accommodate you. It will be my pleasure.” Some very few times it will be, “I need to see what I can do for you. I will be back shortly.”

Confirm; once the request has been fulfilled, confirm completion with the guest and ask, “Is there any thing else?” This is the important because the guests sometimes have a second request; they change their mind or want to talk with you for a minute offering a compliment or maybe even a nice tip!

Perhaps I’ll create an acronym for this procedure. I’m open to ideas.

Golden Rule Application

Treat each guest as you would like to be treated — and kick it a notch when you can!

The valet for example: Open doors; greet and welcome guests with a smile, and provide direction to the event if it is not obvious. The same goes for when the event is over. First and last impressions make a big difference.

Don’t forget to have fun. If the event staff is having fun, the guests will have more fun and everyone on staff will feel good about their actions at the end of the event!

Hold on to your aprons!


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