A Server’s Guide to the Perfect Valentine’s Day Experience
It’s that time again – one of the busiest nights of the year, at least for restaurant owners. Valentine’s Day, being the national holiday for love, has every restaurant packed and every staff member sweating. If your guests aren’t staying in and hiring a bartender at home, you will bet they are looking for the sweetest night out.
Forget the portion of the night that is already chaotic beyond your control, and focus on pleasing your guests using respect, attentiveness, communication and acts of gratitude. This Valentine’s Day, as a server, bartender or event staff, I am going to enlighten you on the 4 skills that will get you through this hectic night, while still giving your guests the experience of a lifetime.
Always respect your guest’s space. Remember, they are on a date with their significant
other – not with you. This doesn’t mean you can’t talk to them, but avoid lengthy statements or open-ended questions that relates to their personal life. As mentioned in our previous blog, using your manners and being respectful is the first step to an effortless evening. Many bartenders and servers on Valentine’s Day may forget this – particularly if they get caught-up in the romantic night.
Whether you are spending your Valentine’s Day in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, or Montreal, the rules to happy customers are pretty universal. According to Stats Canada, the most items purchased through Valentine’s Day week is flowers, chocolate and candy! It’s hard to believe considering the overload of reservations across Canadian restaurants. This is why you must be respectful – to not only give your guests a great experience, but to leave a lasting impression that will have them strolling through the door on another average evening!
Don’t you dare leave a glass empty – especially today! This is a reoccurring theme in great service that I never want to stop stressing. Out of all the days to impress your guests, this day will be a milestone moment. This is when customers, who may usually not go out, lurk outside their houses for a romantic evening. Regardless if a table is ready, when a guest walks through the door ensure to give a simple smile and nod to acknowledge their presence. Even if you are in the middle of something, this simple gesture will help your first impression. Nothing gets under my skin more than being ignored upon arrival to an event.
When serving, you also want to constantly look at your tables. If I am not ready to take an order at another table, I will still make eye contact on my way by to see if they need anything else. Usually, they smile and I know everything is fine, or they wave me down and I have a chance to say, “I will be right with you.” Doing this actively shows my guest I am attentive to their needs, and allows them to see my effort – even if I am a little behind!
You are going to be busy, you are going to need extra help and you may fall behind – but you must own it! It is ok if this happens, but you need to make the best of it. This coincides with being attentive. If you are constantly paying attention, you are going to physically show your dedication to their experience. Clarification is key here. One of the best communication methods, especially in the event staffing agency, is reiteration. Although it may take a few minutes longer, repeat your orders back to your customers so you can prevent mistakes before they happen. This will save time and energy in the long run!
The same rule applies if their food is running late. Instead of avoiding the table until your food is up, take a few moments to apologize for the delay and see if they need anything else. Your guests will appreciate the update, even if they are disappointed. Honesty is a trait everyone can admire, especially when it comes to customer service – so do your duty and don’t be afraid to tell the truth.
If they say thank you, you better be using your manners – make sure they hear you too! It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of Valentine’s Day dinner. That’s why as a server or bartender, you must be conscious of your gratitude. You can say thank you all you want, but it won’t mean anything if you’re saying it as you rush away and your guests don’t find it genuine. Another overlooked factor is leaving your guests after they pay their bill. Yes, they probably don’t want to be bothered, but still make the effort to fill up their waters and make sure they have everything they need before departure.
Handing out roses or chocolate is an easy act of gratitude to your guests and is something they will always remember about their night out. Although this one is a bit out of your control, suggest it to your boss and offer to prepare the restaurant with such items prior to the big day. Even just a simple valentine to every table will make a huge difference! Be creative and your boss will surely take your suggestion.
Valentine’s Day dinner is a big deal. Many more people get out to share an evening together of love and joy. Occasions like this is the perfect opportunity to make a positive dent in their memory. Since it is also usually busier on this day, it is your time to shine and show your visitors what you’re made of! If you are short on people, there is a ton of event staffing agencies, like Bartendo, who would be happy to help! Hire a server, bartender, hostess or even just a general support staff that can assist you in all areas of the night. Even just one extra person can make all the difference for a successful Valentine’s Day experience.