A "missed table greet"...what does that mean to you...?

How many of us find ourselves when out to eat basically wondering, when our server will ever get to our table? Since we are all FOHBOH peeps, we are probably very lienant, and let our server get away with that extra minute, but what if we are in a hurry and have a movie to catch, or for some of my friends meetings or children's sports activities? How long does that minute decide if you actually eat at that restaurant again? I gave it 15 minutes, it was like an eternity......

I had a not so fabulous dining experience at Red Lobster over the weekend. I had been sick with the "Columbus Head Cold", and out of commission for a few days. When my boyfriend was in town, we hit up Red Lobster, because I heart Shrimp Scampi, it's the best. We walked in, immediately seated, and waited, and waited.... I ask my better half, " Am I being impatient or, have we just sat here, for like forever"..... Zak ( who has worked for Max and Erma's one day a week for 9 years) is like " No it's like 15 minutes"........ I'm like " Well what should we do"....so with both of our heads together, we left. Sorry to Red Lobster, who probably had 5 " Lobster Buddies" walk past us, and not ask if we were taken care of, and to the Darden Company who lost out on at least 60.00 in sales, plus a fat tip for their server!

So how do make sure it doesn't happen to us? As a Corporate Trainer/ Key Manager you kinda have to manage your shifts like a buddy shift! Make it an opportunity at your shift meetings that all of you associates know who is in the section next to them! Secondly, be on the floor at least every 7 minutes, even if ask a server to watch expo for a minute....that's all it will take for you take a second on the floor, connect with your guests, You never want to see a guest leave un satisfied!

If anyone cares to know, we went to El Vaquero the best Mexican in Columbus!! I had the #37 Chicken Diabla which is the best !

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Comment by Adam R. Cox on April 3, 2008 at 10:12pm
My two cents.

In no matter what setting, buying cars, shopping @ Office Supply stores, Best Buy or Dept Stores want attention. They want to be noticed. It might be a guy who knows that the power drill he wants is on isle 5 half way down and he will be gone in 15 minutes. Still say hello.

The Hostess/FOH Manager needs to control who sits where and not to load up the section. Communication of people being sat must happen. However, the Lead/Head Server/FOH Manager also must look at each table to visually check each table see it's progress. Water/Napkins, Crayons, Booster seat, asking for check, paying, any number of things. The flipside it also true: The server must communicate to the FOH Staff on what their load is and if they need help. Also, be a team player, if it's not your section, but your right there ASK! DO, Tell the customer they are noticed and what can you do. Even if you cannot do, you can communicate.

Overall, I am very patient and I give leeway when I know the restaurant is busy. However, scheduling should take care of peak times. However, I am not patient when I know things are FUBAR and it's the staff's fault.

Simple put: Communication and be aware of the whole restaurant. Being a team player will get you noticed and promoted!

You should not have waited 15 minutes, that is not acceptable and I would have made my thoughts known to the MOD.
Comment by Judy "the foodie" Asman on April 2, 2008 at 9:50pm
Cindi,

Don't get me started. I had a similar experience the other night at RJ Brennan's in Downtown Disney. My friend and I sat at the bar for appies and wine. Our "real" bartender had stepped away for a moment and the other guy behind the bar just stood there chatting it up with some other staffers.

He pretty much pretended to not hear that we were ready to order--even though he was standing two feet away. But when I called him a "slacker," his ears perked up and he was in full gear making smart ass comments about it. I could go on, but I'll refrain as I feel blood boiling.

I like your solution of the buddy system and suppose it boils down to everyone feeling like they have collective ownership over customer service.
Comment by Cindi Digiantonio on April 1, 2008 at 8:29pm
Andy,
Leaders like you are FAR and FEW between, and I am honored that I have you as such as kickass RM that makes EVERY restaurant in the company rock!!
Comment by Andy Swingley on April 1, 2008 at 4:41pm
Aaahhh Jeffrey is back! I wondered where you had gone to!

I know how you feel about us inept chain operators but don't burst my bubble in my naive belief that I can make any restaurant successful!

Heck I guess there are bad operations everywhere or coachs and consultants wouldn't have a job....

LOL!
Comment by Matt Urdan on April 1, 2008 at 6:35am
Great post, Cindi!

I just have to wonder, where was the FOH Manager? The FOH Manager should always be in the front of the house, visible, and accessible to guests and the Foh Staff. The Foh Manager should be at the host stand, aware of traffic to control the seating and flow into the restaurant so the kitchen does not get slammed and crash. The Foh Manager should be table touching and checking on quality of Service and Food. The Foh Manager should be checking with servers and assisting when they need help. The Foh Manager can help with drinks, food running, pre-busing, restroom checks as necessary to ensure high standards of excellence throughout the shift.

My next question, where is the Head Server, Team Leader, or Foh Key? What is he or she doing? And why is this person not noticing that a table is being ignored for 3 minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes and still not doing anything about it?

We all know that things happen in a restaurant. But if such a thing was happening on Cindi's visit to Red Lobster, someone should have been at the door, slowing seating, and absolutely communicating to the guests.

If this is one of those cases, like in a post on Fohboh the other day about a server walking out during a shift, why wasn't the Foh Team trained in teamwork and to look out for anyone in the restaurant that needs help, not just the guests in his or her own section?

It seems like there were a lot of issues that could have been going on during that visit. Cindi, was this at the Red Lobster at Polaris? I've had bad service there as well, and I think it's just incompetent management and a real lack of concern about the guest.

I even asked to see a manager for the possiblity of doing trades and I had to wait for 30 minutes before a manager ever came out of the back of the house.

The best thing you can do in a situation like this is just leave and call the restaurant the next day and talk to the GM and see if you can find out what happened. If the GM cares about his or her guests at all, he or she will offer to make the situation right and try to retain you as a guest. If he or she doesn't respond, well then, you can choose your next dining option accordingly.

Cheers!
Comment by Andy Swingley on April 1, 2008 at 4:39am
Brilliant Cindi! We are so glad to have you as part of the team! The secret is that when you have a manager in the BOH, DON'T I REPEAT DON'T go in the BOH. Make the agreement with your BOH leader. He/She can run their area, you run yours. Next make bad service just completely unacceptable! Make sure your servers get there in under a minute with a big smile on their face! You set the tone by directing and leading the staff - they will catch on quickly if Cindi is right behind them driving the boat. There are only 46 tables in that restaurant, you can see all of them, you know when they have been greeted. Lead with enthusiasm and use that big heart of yours to engage the staff to take great care of the guests!

You are awesome and thanks for all you do!

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