• It starts with “Hi, my name is Jordan and I’ll be your server tonight.”
  • When customer asks, “What’s good here?”, server replies, “Everything.”
  • Then after the food arrives, server asks “How’s everything?”

All of above are mindless, boring, predictable clichés that customers hear over and over again. These expressions reduce the chances that any meaningful, relationship-building conversation will take place between your servers and their guests. And that’s bad for YOUR business.

When servers initiate personalized, intelligent conversation many powerful things start to happen. Brains become engaged, meaningful dialog starts to happen, servers connect with their guests and guests have a better time and feel appreciated and cared for.

And what do guests usually do when they have a good time and feel appreciated? They usually tip better AND they’re inclined to come back to your restaurant more often.

Use your pre-shift meetings to discuss ways your servers can improve their interactions with your guests.

“Hi, my name is . . .” Truth is most people don’t care what the servers name is. Why not a greeting like “Hi, welcome to The Crab House, I’m so glad you decided to join us tonight.” This puts the focus where it should be, on the guest rather than on the server.

Have your staff practice their table greetings with a bright smile AND direct eye contact and you’ll be miles ahead of most of your competition.

What’s good here? Coach your staff to describe 2 or 3 popular items that you do really well or better yet, have them recommend what they like. Anything but “everything.

How’s everything? After the food is served, have your servers practice coming up with specific, intelligent questions that pertain to what your guests have ordered. “Is your tuna cooked the way you like it?”, “Does anyone need more barbecue sauce?”, “Have you tasted the lobster bisque yet?” Again, anything but “How’s everything.”

When there is meaningful conversation, human connections take place and relationships are made and guests feel valued and appreciated. (And they’ll want to know their server’s name so they can ask for them on their next visit.)

Want to stake out a competitive advantage? Start by creating the most welcoming, sociable and conversational service staff around.