How to Greet Customers in a Restaurant: 5 Essential Tips

As the owner or general manager of that restaurant will soon learn, how you greet your customers can have a big impact.

When formulating a plan for success in opening a new fast-casual restaurant, priorities tend to lean toward recipes, kitchen, processes, ordering strategies, branding, social media promotion, and more. Creating a script, strategy and training component for how to greet customers when they enter your restaurant often ends up somewhere at the bottom of the list (if it makes the list at all). As the owner or general manager of that restaurant will soon learn, how you greet your customers can have a big impact on their overall customer experience.

Consider the times you, yourself, have entered a restaurant to have a peek and consider dining there, only to turn around and leave. Maybe it felt too crowded. Maybe you just didn’t get hooked quickly enough. A great greeting can make the difference between keeping the customer there (and whether or not they return) or watching them walk out the door.

It’s just one important element — part of a much bigger picture of excellent customer service — in developing a burger business that stands apart, but it’s the first element in the interpersonal aspect of the customer experience.

Here are some key tips for how you, as owner or manager, should greet customers, and how you should train your employees to do the same.

Own it Immediately With a Smile

While you may be tired of hearing the same time-worn cliché repeated again, it’s true: first impressions matter, especially to customers in a restaurant.

Your body language will set the tone of the entire interaction, so start with a smile. Before even saying the word hello, make sure your expression conveys the message that you are happy to see the customer walk through the door. But keep in mind, the key to creating a great first impression is to smile like you mean it. A genuine smile shows that you care.

Address Them With Respect

As soon as guests walk through the door and you’ve flashed your smile, offer a welcome greeting. Be respectful when greeting individual customers; use “sir,” “ma’am,” and “miss.” found that when a customer feels disrespected by an organization, it is a “hot button” trigger. Results from a survey of 1,000 consumers showed that 75 percent of respondents said that being disrespected would lead them to avoid doing business with the establishment again. In the world of fast-casual dining, it only takes a few seconds to make incoming customers feel respected. In fact, all five tips mentioned here focus on one common, but important theme: showing respect.

Customers will be far less likely to turn around and go somewhere else after receiving a  greeting that makes them feel welcome and respected.

Continue to Act Quickly, But Be Polite

In a fast-casual restaurant, where the guest approaches the counter to order, the order-taking should be considered an extension of the greeting. The customer is still on his or her feet, not situated comfortably and already “seated,” so to speak.

After welcoming the customer, politely ask if they would like to try a certain new menu item you’re currently promoting, if applicable. A cheery delivery keeps this quick suggestion from feeling pushy to the customer.

Proceed by asking if they are ready to order — being sure to keep smiling. Positioning it as a question avoids putting pressure on them to make up their minds quickly but starts the ball rolling.

Listen Closely

Getting the order and service right requires listening to detail. If they order simply by saying the name of the item, be sure to ask them any pertinent questions that may be relevant to getting the order right, even if they didn’t think to provide the information.

Whether you’re asking what toppings they’d like on the item or how they’d like it cooked, follow-up questions demonstrate that you care about their experience and that the dish will be customized to their liking. And remember to make eye contact, because when you do, you’ll find you actually are a better listener.

Use Resources from an Established System

All of these tips sound quite simple, but greeting and welcoming a customer effectively is incredibly nuanced. Believe it or not, professional consultants have built a career on teaching restaurant owners and their employees how to provide better service, including greetings.

Whether doing it on your own or with outside help, training is essential.

Restaurant entrepreneurs can benefit vastly by becoming franchise owners, as opposed to going it alone. A franchise relationship comes with ready-made best practices and training plans that have been refined and improved through trial and error.

By hiring people with great attitudes, even a trained greeting, using a script, delivers an authentic welcome that kicks off your customer’s visit — leading ultimately to an overall satisfying customer experience your restaurant will provide.

Wayback Burgers offers qualified candidates the opportunity to open and operate a business in the highly sought-after fast-casual sector with a small footprint and a big upside.

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