The catering sector is undergoing vast changes that entail the adjustment of all staff. One of the key elements of this process is the maître d’hôtel, who today needs to have the specific ability to achieve customer loyalty and fill tables.
Besides the basic qualities (discipline, tidiness, communication skills, leadership and qualifications), there are 5 qualities that we consider important for a current good head waiter or head waitress, taking into account the digital transformation of restaurants and new consumer habits of customers. Let’s see what you think.
Understanding customer needs
What diners currently take into account the most when they go to a restaurant is that the staff understand their needs and choices. This refers to the new trends , when eating out is more of an emotional experience than a dietary need.
This is why the commercial role the maître d’ has always had has taken on a new dimension and they need to be able to identify the true needs of each client and offer as personalised a service as possible. They need to have intuition and be astute in order to apply upselling and techniques and to seduce customers by knowing what they really want.
It’s essential millennial customers can connect via the internet, families can meet the needs of their children and that health-loving customers, to have nutritional information on the dishes and each situation requires different consideration. While it’s also essential to perfectly understand the offer, the origin of the products and the history behind each dish that comes out of the ovens, regardless of the customer being served. This means understanding the storytelling and the brand image of the restaurant.
The maître d’ is probably the profile that is most exposed to customers. Like the conductor of an orchestra, they are a significantly visual person throughout all services. They are the person who greets and bids farewell to the diners and who is responsible for any unforeseen events in the dining room. What does this mean? That they must always have a decisive attitude. What we’re saying is if the maître d’ is OK, everything else runs smoothly. In particular when meeting deadlines and coordinating communication with the kitchen and dining room teams.
Our ideal maître d’ knows how to manage stress, control their emotions and maintain a positive frame of mind for most of the time. They are the ambassador of the dining room, and work hand in hand with the head chef in order to make the customer experience magnificent.
A command of technological tools.
Fortunately today we rely on very good tools in catering, that assist with time saving, improve performance and offer personalised treatment. The perfect head waiter or waitress also has to have great planning skills, a command of these tools and be able to improve performance.
Knowing how to take advantage of management software, for example, optimising online customer capture, organising these reservations in a digital plan, managing functions with the team and leading decisions in the face of the unexpected (No show and overbooking). Keeping up to date with technical resources that emerge.
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One of the key responsibilities of a maître d’ is stock management, and it is vital they understand finance, they are aware of the restaurant’s budget and they know how to manage it. This administrative quality means they can assess what it costs to make each dish and bring it to the table, they know the most and least profitable products and they can prioritise according to the benefits of the business.
If, during a service, a passing customer orders a glass of a very exclusive wine, the ideal maître d’ should first try to get the waiter to sell them another glass of wine that is similar and more profitable for the restaurant. But if it is a regular customer they would indulge them, as we all know that it costs more to retain a regular customer than to capture new ones, for example.
Gone are the rigid hierarchies. In the new business dynamics, working on the net is giving better results than the old pyramid system. These changes have made major improvements in restaurants. Although there are still leaders, such as the maître d’, the rest of the team can participate, give an opinion and take part in management like never before.
In this sense, the 5th characteristic of our ideal head waiter or waitress is that they understand the needs, aptitudes and limitations of the staff they are in charge of (essential for setting timetables and holidays), they delegate in an optimal way, they share the compliments they receiveand they are clear that if the services are excellent it is because of the work of the whole team. With this prevailing vision good vibes and the services will come by word of mouth.
What is our dining room managment like? We hope that the maître d’ of your restaurant has these 5 qualities and that you have continued success.
If, on the other hand, you are searching for this profile, you can take these features into account when incorporating this member of your team. Note the difference!