The host or hostess is probably the least respected employee in the restaurant business because of the many misconceptions associated with the position. The main one is that these employees don’t really do much. All they do is greet people at the door and seat them, leaving the rest of the staff to take care of the grunt work. Right? Wrong!
Sure, hosts and hostesses might not be carrying dishes or preparing the food, but they are an integral part of the staff nevertheless, and whether or not you have hired the right people to work the front of the house is something that can make or break your restaurant.
So when the time comes to hire for this position in your restaurant, you really need to make sure that you find the right person. These are some of the most important qualities that you need to be looking for when hiring hosts and hostesses.
The thing about being a host or hostess is that you are greatly responsible for the first impression that customers get of your restaurant. And the first impression is always the most important one in this business. That’s why confidence is so important.
Thankfully, the level of a potential employee’s confidence can be gauged pretty easily during the interview process. The way they handle themselves during the interview can immediately give you a good idea of whether or not they are confident in their abilities.
When a host or hostess is confident, this confidence become contagious. A good host or hostess is able to instill a sense of confidence in your customers, in the sense that they feel confident about the fact that they have chosen to eat at your restaurant. If the host or hostess makes a good impression on the customer as soon as he or she enters the door, the work the rest of your staff needs to do in order to maintain that impression immediately become a bit easier.
Next to exuding confidence, being able to maintain composure is probably the second most important aspect of being a great host or hostess. As mentioned previously, many believe that hosts have it easy. Greet and seat – that’s all it takes, right? Not many realize how taxing the seating process can be, especially when it’s getting really busy in the restaurant.
There’s a lot of strategizing involved, which involves a lot of critical thinking and planning on the spot. Often times this process can become very stressful. A good host or hostess will be able to keep his or her cool even when the going gets tough.
Not only are you dealing with hungry and anxious guests waiting to be seated and served, you’re also dealing with a restaurant staff of waiters and servers that is probably just as stressed out and on edge.
It’s a balancing act that not everyone is built to handle, which makes finding a host or hostess that can calmly navigate such situations imperative.
A great host or hostess is charming and friendly, no matter what. Even when they might not be necessarily feeling that way, they aren’t allowed to show it. Having a terrible day? Too bad. It’s your job to smile and be cordial to every guest, no matter how impossible it seems. Most importantly, you need to come off as sincere – which is probably the hardest part of being friendly and charming even on the worst of days.
The host’s job is to make the guests not only feel comfortable, but also important. Another big part of this is the way in which a host or hostess speaks. A lot of the charm that good hosts or hostesses exude comes from two things – their manners and their verbal skills.
A great host or hostess must be well-spoken and polite at all times. Whether they are talking to customers in person or taking reservations over the phone, a great host or hostess will speak clearly and collectedly, never rushing their conversations or showing any signs that can imply rudeness.
There’s a lot to be said about establishing connections with your clientele on an emotional level. A great host or hostess needs to be incredibly likeable and should be leaving a lasting positive impression on your guests. Being able to immediately establish a connection at the front of the house is something that’s more likely to get you recurring customers and regulars than the actual food.
People respond to people. It’s as simply as that. If guests don’t feel comfortable entering your restaurant and being seated, you can’t really expect them to come back – no matter how great your food is. The perfect host or hostess is able to connect with guests on an emotional level and immediately establish some type of rapport with them that makes them feel at home in your establishment.
A poor host or hostess views themselves as an isolated employee that doesn’t have much interaction with the rest of the staff. A good host or hostess understands that everyone on the restaurant staff is connected and needs to work together. If the restaurant is incredibly busy, hosts need to be ready to swallow their pride and help out wherever they can.
Sure, you might not have been hired to help serve or buss tables, but if the situation calls for it, a great host or hostess will be ready to lend a helping hand.
Situations can get heated in a restaurant – especially a busy one. Hosts need to help to keep spirits high and defuse conflicts. If you’ve hired someone who is able to maintain his or her composure with frustrated guests, he or she should be able to do the same within the team.
The bests hosts are willing to do whatever it takes for the restaurant to succeed, whether it’s rallying the troops, keeping everyone on the same page, resolving conflicts or rolling their sleeves up and washing dishes. Whatever it takes.
Remember, we’re talking about the first person that your guests see and meet when entering your restaurant. The person who is responsible for the all-important first impression that’s created when a guest enters your eatery. There’s a lot more to being a great host or hostess than dressing well and having good hygiene.
It takes a special type of personality and work ethic to get the job done right. That’s why hiring a host or hostess should be a very thorough process, testing every potential hire’s abilities throughout a large spectrum of both typical and atypical situations that can arise in the business of restauranteering.