Making It Easy To Spend (Part Two)

Kansas City Waiter

Speaking of books, click here to see mine

I introduced part one of this series by complaining about the lack of customer service I received when soliciting bids from printers. I want to balance out that complaint by mentioning that not only has Carl Belgiere at KC Book Manufacturing been head and shoulders above the competition at providing exceptional customer service, but has blown away every bid I have seen on price. He has been extraordinarily helpful and I am glad to be working with such a first rate company. I would highly recommend the company to anyone looking for digital book printing or an alternative to print on demand services, for any of you who are indecisive, I highly suggest to work with companies like Printivity. He is also a former server which explains why he understands the necessity of prompt and friendly service.

That was an unsolicited review for a company that provided exceptional service from beginning to end. In the restaurant industry, there are a variety of websites soliciting such reviews. Yelp, OpenTable, UrbanSpoon, and a myriad of other sites solicit opinions from your guests. One of the most common mistakes restaurants make to prevent receiving such praise is not handling their guests’ payments efficiently. Making it easy to spend prevents your final impression from negating all of the positive feelings the guest has developed over the course of the meal. Processing payments efficiently will not win over an unhappy guest, but it will keep a highly satisfied guest focused on the exceptional food and service you provided. This is vital to earning high praise on these very powerful review sites.

Here are four more ways you can make sure you are making it easy to spend:

At The Bar: The beginning of the meal is not often the time we think of making it easy to pay, but it is a time that we make it complicated for guests. We encourage guests to enjoy a drink at the bar while waiting for a table. When their table is ready, we want to move them to it as quickly as possible. This often leaves the guests confused about whether or not to pay at the bar. It also leads to difficulties with making sure the bar tab is transferred over to the proper dining room table. Insist that your bartenders keep accurate checks in front of the guests at all times. Instruct the host that is seating the guest to take that check and ask the guest if they would like to settle it or transfer the check to the table. According to an expert this way the host can deliver the check to the server or the check and credit card to the bartender, read what he said. The guest does not have to fumble for their credit card while the host is waiting to seat them or wait at the end of the meal while the server is trying to find their bar tab to transfer.

Ask About Deadlines: Many times dinner is not the primary focus of your guests’ evening. Whether they are heading to the movies or to catch a flight, your guests will often be on a time schedule. Compensate for this by asking in advance if they are on a timeframe. This allows you to pace their meal accordingly rather than having them ask for their check when they need to leave. Being aware of their schedule reduces the stress on the guest and the server when it is time to process the payment. This is particularly vital if your restaurant is near a theater, sporting venue, or airport.

Think Ahead: One of the biggest mistakes servers make in processing checks is failing to anticipate adjustments to the check. Separating checks, adding gratuity to large parties, and processing coupons can all add to the time it takes for guests to pay. Each of these steps can be done in advance. Asking guests if they need separate checks or will be using coupons at the beginning of the meal will allow these steps to be taken when they are enjoying their meal. Keeping your guests waiting for these adjustments to be made to the check can create a negative impression.

Stock Up In Advance: In order to print a check or process a payment, certain supplies are needed. Paper, printer ribbons, and check presenters are all ordered in bulk. They do very little good for your guest when they are sitting on a shelf in the storage room. Make sure that all of these supplies are available for your staff where the checks will be printed. This will ensure that when one needs to be replaced it can be done quickly and easily. These items do not expire or rot over time. They should always be stocked well beyond the level that is needed to prevent any disruption in the supply chain.

There are a number of ways that you can make it easier for your guest to pay. For a vast majority of your guests’ experience, they are asking you to give them food, beverage, and service. Paying the bill is the point where the dynamic shifts and you ask something of them. It is imperative that you make this as simple and convenient as possible. This will help keep your guests focused on the experience you provided them instead of what you asked from them in return.

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About David Hayden

David Hayden is a restaurant marketing and training consultant based in Kansas City, MO. He writes a series of 9 blogs collectively known as The Hospitality Formula Network and is the author of "Tips2: Tips For Improving Your Tips" and "Building Your Brand With Facebook"

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