Thursday, March 31, 2011

Helping the Restaurant

As a consumer, we know what good service is. As a restaurant entertainer, we should strive to make sure the customer services is top rank. So, it is imperative that a restaurant entertainer be aware of their surroundings.

If entertaining and you see a line forming at the door, check to see what tables are waiting for entertainment because these tables will not turnover unless you visit them. For any restaurant, table turnover is critical to a busy restaurant.  When making your rounds you will encounter people who are waiting for a server, silverware, or just need a napkin, See if you can quickly accommodate their needs or at least acknowledge them.

Simple interaction with the customers will reduce stress and increase the odds that they will return.  The goal of the entertainer is to insure the customer will return—if they have dealings with you the restaurant entertainer.  This is the key selling point to your restaurant entertainment. As entertainers, we do not bring in customer; we just keep them coming back!

Restaurants unknowingly need an ambassador of good will (the restaurant entertainer) who moves around the room smoothing out problems or running interference.  This happened one night while working my Friday night pizza parlor.  The manager approached me and asked if I could go across the room to a specific table right away.  Apparently, the server accidentally gave their pizza to another table and a new pizza was coming. The manager now assigned me the task to run interference with the customer and keep them entertained.

This roll of ambassador is common in the restaurant industry.  As an entertainer, we have to understand this and roll with the environment.  When I arrived at the table you could see the disappointment on the customers faces at the realization of another thirty-minute wait.  I quickly started joking around with the kids, asking them what type of balloon they wanted.  As I worked the table you could see the customer’s minds were now fixated on me, the entertainer, and not their hungry stomachs.  I looked at the customer and said “your pizza was great! I’ll be stuffed for hours, but next time can you hold the mushrooms?”  The customer replied, “Did you at least save me a piece?”  We both laughed about the missing pizza.   If you can get the customers to laugh at their misfortunes, then you have done your job.  When I finished, I apologized again for the mishap. As I left, the manager came over and gave them a 10% discount for their inconvenience.  Later that evening the manager thanked me for taking care of the table.

Another time, I was working a table and I noticed a family, sitting with food in front of them, and nobody was eating.  “Need silverware?” I asked.  They replied “yes”, and with that, I flagged down the nearest server, stopped her dead in her tracks, and ask her “Could you please get this table some silverware?”  She stopped, looked at them, and said, “sure thing.” With that, I crack a joke telling them “your getting the clean silverware, aren’t you lucky.”  Then I want back to entertaining. Needless to say they were impressed that I was able to get the attention of the server so quickly. Problem solved.

Good restaurant entertainers are aware of their surroundings and understand that resolving problems, making sure tables turnovers smoothly and creating a fun-filled atmosphere is part of the restaurant entertainment. If the entertainer successfully achieves this, the restaurant will see regular customers bring in family and friends to see the entertainer.  These new converted fans of the restaurant and its entertainer are now loyal customers that will boast about your abilities and become a great source if advertisement.

Friday nights I would have a family come to the local pizza parlor. It was mom, dad and their twenty-two year old daughter.  The daughter always wanted a balloon because she was the baby of the family and, as she put it, “she was special”.  They were very nice people and I always sat and visited with them.  They become my restaurant “mom & dad and my bratty little sister”.  On slow nights, I would sit and talk with them about everything under the stars. Over time, I became part of the family.  Mom and dad had an older son who managed a Famous Dave’s Restaurant and because they thought so highly of me, they convinced him he had to come see the Magical Balloon-dude.  It only took a week before I got a call to work Monday nights at his restaurant.  Not only that, the mom thought it would be cool to see the Magical Balloon-dude Dale at different restaurants. So on Friday they came for pizza, Sunday morning, they ate breakfast at the Cracker Barrel that I was working. Monday the came to Famous Dave’s Barbeque Ribs and the joke was were they coming to see their real son or the newly adopted balloon-making son?  The mom said she saw me more that month than she did her own son. She jokingly said, “I was more fun then her real son”.

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