No matter how cutting edge or on-trend a restaurant’s menu and decor, it won’t make a jot of difference to booking numbers unless diners enjoy an excellent overall experience when they visit.
This is where front of house staff and their ability to create brilliant guest experiences comes into the equation, but it’s certainly true that not everyone is cut out for working in a customer-facing role at a restaurant.
With that in mind, here’s the personality traits that make the best front of house employees.
Staying calm in a crisis
Although a well-run restaurant should operate smoothly day to-day, there’s always a chance that disaster might strike out of nowhere.
From unexpected problems with the food to abusive customer behaviour and power cuts, it’s important for waiting staff to be able to keep a level head when things take a turn for the worse.
This isn’t something you can necessarily drum in with training, although it does make sense to plan for likely scenarios in order for everyone to know how to respond without having to think too hard about it.
Displaying emotional intelligence
Each diner is different and will have their own expectations about the kind of service they receive at a restaurant.
For staff, being able to detect whether a customer wants to be engaged in a cheerful chat or left to their own devices while they enjoy their meal, is an important skill.
It’s all about emotional intelligence and empathy; customers who seem standoffish or reserved don’t necessarily need to be won over or worn down with constant attempts at engagement on behalf of front of house staff.
Equally, if a guest is initiating lots of small talk, it’s important for front of house staff to indulge them and respond as much as possible, without impinging on their own productivity.
Paying attention to diners and being flexible – rather than ploughing ahead with a pre-set serving style whatever happens – will ensure higher levels of satisfaction.
Having plenty of energy
Working front of house roles in a restaurant can be taxing physically and emotionally, so if someone starts a shift with a spring in their step and a smile on their face, only to end it slouched over and sobbing into a kitchen towel, something isn’t quite right.
The best waiters, concierge and bar staff are those who can bring plenty of energy to the role and sustain it over the course of a day, rather than burning out long before the last guest has left.
Stamina is incredibly important and it’s partly down to experience; knowing how to persevere and stay motivated during quiet periods, how to refuel in downtime and how to remain consistently cheerful and charming when dealing with customers takes time.
There are lots of elements to look out for in the best front of house staff and you’re unlikely to find them all in one person, but a combination of the traits above will quickly make itself evident.
With a bit of training and encouragement, you can nurture these positive personality traits and give every guest a compelling experience, no matter who’s serving them.