It may sound like a cliche but customer service in restaurants and cafes is where the buck stops. And it’s a mistake to think that it’s only waiting staff that have to worry about it. If the kitchen isn’t up to speed there’s only so much that can be done front of house to placate a frustrated customer. Service in restaurants is make or break.

A classic example comes to mind:

There we were up to our necks in blood and bullets, fighting side by side in the trenches.

OK, we were actually in the kitchen of a busy restaurant where the printer was strafing us with dockets and the stress was mounting by the second. The chefs had lost it. This was sending waves of panic out to the floor staff who were begging to know “When is the food coming out?

This all started early that morning when the chefs and their kitchen brigade started getting ready for their lunch time trade. I had noticed this particular morning there was a lot of banter coming from the boys in the kitchen. It was a beautiful day and because the restaurant was on the beach I sensed we were in for a busy day. My comment to the chef’s was “I hope you are ready for a busy one“, to which their reply was “No problems“. I reminded them of that once the massacre was over.

As we sifted through the ruins we found remnants of the day’s half finished jobs everywhere. It was clear to me that the chef’s had made the fatal mistake of preparing for a quiet day instead of a busy one. There was another thing missing from their plan of attack and that was a sense of urgency.

If you run a busy restaurant you will know that a sense of urgency is an essential ingredient for good customer service. In restaurant and cafe settings the customer expects to see people moving with purpose!

From the moment I saw the first docket coming out of the printer and the chefs looking like they were in slow motion, I knew we were in trouble. There is a difference between rushing around like an idiot and moving with efficiency and speed to get the job done.

Having lots of experience in busy kitchens and bars, I know for a fact that if you want to stay in front and keep the stress to an acceptable level, then you must attend to the dockets as soon as possible. Show some urgency because if you don’t the next docket will be there before you know it and the next and the next and the ………..

To some people a sense of urgency comes naturally but to others it has to be taught. Whichever the case, it had better be there, otherwise the service in your restaurant WILL BE SLOW. And as we’ve already said, slow customer service in restaurants can mean a slow and painful death for your business.