Every time you stop by a table it is called a touch. That’s what we call it in the restaurant business. Actually, we don’t, but those teaching hospitality at various schools tell us it is, so we believe them. Anyway, it is important to touch the table as often as possible.
Maybe not too much
Obviously, we want to respect customers’ wishes for privacy, but within the confines of that we do. It is possible to ‘touch’ a table without intruding. How else is the customer going to let us know they want to order a bottle of wine, or that they dropped their fork and would like a new one?
Recently I was asked to consult at a little café in town. It is the kind of place that only has counter service. Very simple menu, the kind of place where you order your food and they make it for you quickly right then and there. There is no actual table service. I recognized immediately the need to get the person out from behind the counter and engaging the customers whenever possible.
Just the simple approach of, “How is everything,” or, “May I take that away for you?,” is gold. No, it is not the kind of place where one would expect any service out at the tables, but that’s exactly the point! They will be pleasantly surprised, will end up ordering more, and coming back more frequently with friends.
Not just the waiter
Everyone in the front-of-the-house should make the effort to do so (within reason, obviously). Not just the server, but that manager, or host should also. Get out from behind that front desk and out on the floor. Uncomfortable doing it because it’s not ‘your table’? Need a buffer? Pick up the water pitcher and go over there and say hello for five seconds.
Most of the time customers really crave that behavior. If they didn’t they would stay home and eat. Even the busser should make that extra effort.
I don’t recommend this
We had a friendly busser who liked to talk to the guests. Once, when a customer was appreciating the wonderful olive oil that we served, he broke in to this story about how it is really good for the skin, and explained how he likes to rub it over his body. Okay, maybe that is not the kind of table touch that I am suggesting. Wow, I kind of feel like taking a shower now.
Get back to your point
You want customers enjoying their dining experience and returning over and over again? (The answer is yes by the way.) Practice those table touches.