The host is the first person customers meet and the last person they’ll cross paths with before heading off. Hosts play a major role in establishing a friendly atmosphere at your restaurant—one that will entice the customer to return repeatedly.
Here are a few qualities you should look for in potential hosts:Willingness to go above and beyond for guests. Part of a host’s responsibility is to make life easier for each guest. In addition to meeting standard needs, hosts should consider special requests as opportunities to make lasting impressions.
For example, a guest drove to Villa Christina in Atlanta from St. Petersburg, Fla., to surprise his mom for Mother’s Day. He arrived before the rest of his family, realized that he forgot to purchase a Mother's Day card and asked where the nearest store was. The host asked him to wait a minute, went to the sales office and scanned a drawer full of thank-you, birthday, wedding and anniversary cards before finding a Mother's Day card. The host presented the card to the guest, who was incredibly appreciative,says Terri Harof, vice president of marketing.
Genuinely care about the success of the restaurant. Hosts generally are salaried and unlike servers, they don’t rely heavily on tips. So they must be motivated to act in the best interest of the restaurant, even though their pay won’t necessarily be affected either way.
“I have, unfortunately, encountered hosts in the past who just want a cushy summer job, aware that it doesn't matter how slow or busy the restaurant is -- he or she is still getting paid the same,” says Dennis Friedman, executive chef/owner of Newton's Table and Newton's Noodles in Washington, D.C.
“Choosing not to be aggressive with capturing sales, acting indifferent to their impact on the kitchen, being ignorant to the success or failure of the servers -- all of these qualities are a recipe for failure, flavored with mediocrity.”
Ability to always be polite to guests, no matter what. The guest is always right. Regardless of how a customer treats the host, he or she must resist the urge to return the poor attitude. Instead, they must stay calm and try to please the customer as best he or she can.
When David Bakke was a restaurant general manager, he worked with a hostess who often snapped at guests. “I received numerous complaints about her, and the restaurant lost business as a result,” says Bakke, a restaurant expert at Money Crasher Personal.
Outgoing personality. Naturally shy people usually don’t make good hosts. Hosts must go out of their way to be friendly to customers.
Strong organizational skills. Hosts frequently have several responsibilities, such as taking reservations, maintaining wait lists, assigning seating and scheduling employee duties. So strong organizational and time-management skills are a must.
Team player. Hosts must have a sense of table progression. To do so, he or she should communicate constantly with wait staff to know which guests are on dessert, which have paid their checks and which are still eating their meals. Everyone on staff plays for the same team.
Professional appearance. Appearance is important when greeting customers, so hosts and hostesses should dress in attire appropriate for the restaurant setting. Any stains or wrinkles on clothes convey a dirty atmosphere.