How to ensure your restaurant is ready for anything

Working in the service industry is full of ups and downs.

While one evening service may be a seamless, thrilling, and rewarding experience, the next day may be filled with disgruntled customers who are impossible to please.

While some situations are impossible to predict, there are a few problems that you can prepare yourself and your staff for in advance.

By expecting worst case scenarios, you will ensure that any issues are contained and dealt with as quickly as possible.

Here are five tricky situations that may occur in your restaurant or bar, and a few tips on how to prepare for them.

Returned dishes or drinks

When customers attempt to return their food, it can be difficult to know how to respond. While some customers may have serious issues with their food (maybe it’s undercooked or a hair has been found) other customers may simply dislike the taste of their dish.

Unless you have a crystal clear plan in place for returns, you will likely run into confusion and you risk annoying the customer even more.

Decide on the protocol for each type of return so that your entire team knows how to respond. For instance, if it’s a health and safety concern, offer a free drink or a free voucher for next time in addition to their replacement meal.

Whatever system you decide upon, make sure you stick to it and you’ll never have to make up rules on the go.

Booking errors

50% of customers have claimed that waiting for their reserved table is one of the most annoying customer service errors they have encountered. No matter how vigilant you are, human error is bound to lead to the occasional booking mistake.

To avoid serious problems with the customer when the errors do occur, we recommend setting aside one table as a backup seating option.

If you have the resources, try switching to a digital booking system. This way, when customers call to make a reservation, you will immediately see which tables are free, and you will be far less likely to double-book a table.

Fights between customers

While this is a very rare occurrence in most restaurants, disputes can occasionally occur between customers. There’s very little you can do to prevent this problem, however there are a few things you can do to pacify your customers quickly and quietly.

If the customers are from separate parties, offer to move one table to another part of the restaurant. If this is not an option, calmly and quietly ask your patrons to either stop or leave the premises. In the worst case scenario, do not hesitate to call the police.

Major property damage

Damage can occur in several ways. Whether the damage is sustained from an accident or a leaky roof, the first thing to do is to assess the safety of the situation.

If you deem the damage to be unsafe, you may need to close the restaurant until further notice. Create a list of service companies that you can call in an emergency. Having this list ready to go will save you lots of time and will get you up and running again as soon as possible.

Staff injuries

Restaurants aren’t always the safest places. In fact, nearly 2.8 million injuries occur in the US service industries every year. There are plenty of hazards to watch out for, including knives, stoves, broken glass, and so on.

Thorough health and safety training will help to prevent injuries. However, if and when they do occur, it’s best to be prepared.

For minor injuries, always have a fully stocked first aid kit at hand, and make sure all of your staff know its location.

For serious injuries, call an ambulance immediately. It may even be worth taking part in a first aid course as the manager of a restaurant.

Prepare for the unexpected

While you can’t prevent every bad situation at work, the least you can do is be prepared. Follow these tips to ensure your restaurant is as safe as possible and your staff members are well-trained for every possible eventuality.

Remember, while some situations can be solved with apologies and freebies, other more serious situations may require police intervention or an ambulance call. Ensure your staff receives frequent health and safety training to minimize the risk of injury on shift.

As long as you have a plan in place for each type of problem that may occur, you will be able to deal with them properly as they arise.


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