4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Host


In my experience of working in and dining at restaurants I cant help but notice that so many operations do not maximize the use of their host. The pace of the dining experience all starts with the host. Depending on how well the host does his/her job can make or break the overall experience.

Assumed responsibilities of the host include greeting guest, managing reservations and answering the phone. A good host is capable of doing so much more! In many educational text the host is also referred to as the captain of the dinning room. Do you get that captain vibe from your host? if not, here are 4 ways you can make your ordinary host into an extraordinary host:

  1. First Impressions- smile, know the guest, know the restaurant
    When guest visit your restaurant the first face they see is that of the host. Make sure you hire a host the exudes positivity, warmth and an overall inviting vibe. These are all qualities you should be looking for during the interview process. Make sure your host knows the customer and is sensitive to customer needs, especially returning customers. Your host should eventually be able to greet your guest by name. So many POS system incorporate guest database functions. Make sure your host is studying these databases for guest needs and preferences and keeping the POS systems current. A good host doesn’t wait for request to be made, they anticipate needs and preferences and make sure they are met before the guest arrives.A good host knows restaurant operations inside and out. Any question a manager can answer a host should be able to answer as well. What are the restaurant hours? What is the restaurant history? When does the kitchen close? What are tonights specials? Your host should have the answers to these questions resting at the tips of their lips.  Hold host menu knowledge to the same standard as wait staff. All host should have to take and pass a test covering the ins and outs of your restaurant before being put into service.
  2. Keep things neat and tidy
    In a restaurant there is always something that needs to be done. A host should never just be waiting for guest to arrive. Create a cleaning checklist for host to refer to while waiting for rushes. Are the menus clean? Is woodwork dusted and polished? Is the dinning room properly arranged and are tables set? Are side stations stalked? There is never a second to spare when preparing for service and a good host knows this.
  3. Support other staff
    Yes, there is a period where the host is glued to their stand tending to the constant flow of guest arriving, but eventually this surge will begin to subside. Once this surge has subsided, it is typically when the wait staff is at their busiest. During times between guest arriving the host should constantly be scanning for servers in need of help. What tables need clearing? Are all waters at least half filled? Does the bar need more ice? If you can’t find something to do, find someone to help. Hosts should ask themselves “Which server looks like they are most in the weeds?” and then ask that server what they can do to help. This is when a host takes on the captain role. One way to provide incentive for your host to go the extra mile is by encouraging staff to tip them out. When I was a host at The Library Restaurant I paid $8/hr and typically worked 5 hours a night, but I would go home with $80 a night. This is because the wait staff took care of me when I took care of them. I was able to double my income and the operation functioned much more efficiently.
  4. Last impression
    In the restaurant industry, last impressions can be just as important as first impressions. You can not thank your guest enough for choosing your restaurant over all the others. A good host pays attention to who is about to leave and makes sure they are there to thank as sincerely as possible. Also, this is a great opportunity to pole your guest. Take this opportunity to ask how the guest’s experience was. If they have any negative feedback LISTEN and take note. Add these notes to the customer’s database and ensure them that you will do everything in your power to make sure this negative experience will never happen again. Communicate this negative experience with the rest of the staff. Often, many negative experiences can be resolved simply by listening and showing genuine remorse.

I hope this post encourages you to make the most of your host! What are some of the ways you make the most of your host?