Request Demo Get Started

How to Greet Customers at a Restaurant in 2023 (In Depth Guide)

Ryan Andrews
Ryan Andrews

Aug 16, 2022 11:26:00 AM

Greeting guests the right way as they arrive at your restaurant is no small detail. It's their first impression of what their dining experience will be like, and we all know how important first impressions are. Hosts and hostesses have a big responsibility on their shoulders. Unfortunately, though, many a time they are not trained properly and are left to their own devices, leading to impersonal greetings like “hi guys”, “how many?” or “just one?”

If this is happening at your restaurant, it’s time to change it. You might not realize it, but a wrong greeting may be taking down the entire guest experience. 

>> Create your restaurant training manual with our free template

Why is Greeting Guests in the Right Way so Important?

One of the biggest challenges of running a restaurant is making it stand out from the crowd. Having good food is no longer enough, you need to orchestrate an excellent overall service for your guests and give them a memorable experience.

Restaurants spend hours of effort to train their servers to provide impeccable service, yet they forget that good customer service begins as soon the guest enters the door and is greeted by the host/hostess. 

Apart from your online presence and physical venue, the greeting is the first human aspect that forms a guest’s first impression of the restaurant. It builds the base, sets the guests’ expectations, and can make or break their entire visit. 

A good greeting also helps guests feel more welcome and at ease at your restaurant. A polite “Hi, how are you doing today?” instead of the usual “how many?” can make a world of difference, especially if it’s their first time. 

Don't be afraid to leverage technology to streamline the guest greeting experience - whether that be through your restaurant management software or through a PMS integration at your hotel. Having the right data at your fingertips when your guests arrive can make or break a first impression. 

Greeting Guests Over the Phone

Greeting guests correctly over the phone is even more important. A rude or impersonal attitude makes you lose a potential guest before they even visit.

A great way to greet your regulars in a personalized way is to integrate your phone line with your CRM system. Eat App’s phone integration allows you to connect your restaurant’s phone line to your table management system, providing hosts with important guest details like name, number of visits, guest tags, etc. at a glimpse before they answer the call. This enables them to know exactly who is calling and greet guests over the phone with a personal touch, improving their overall experience.

It helps your staff provide better service and saves time and streamlines workflow efficiency by transforming calls directly into reservations conveniently through the call screen.

This hassle-free feature is an absolute game-changer for your business.

Learn more about Eat App’s phone integration:

Guests, not Customers

This article will help you out with useful tips and scripts for greeting your guests better to improve the overall experience. However, greeting the right way is deeply rooted in your staff’s attitude towards the people that walk in through the door. 

A great way to shape that attitude is to refer to your diners as guests, not customers. Here’s why.

The Oxford dictionary defines a customer as:

  • A person who buys goods or services
  • A person whom one has to deal with

On the other hand, a guest is defined as:

One whom you would treat with respect and hospitality as if they were a visitor in your own home. 

You’d probably agree that using “guest” is a much more welcoming way to think about and talk about those who frequent your restaurant

So, we suggest that starting today, if you are not already doing so, think about and talk about those who frequent your restaurant as guests, not customers -  as if they were visitors at your own home.

Treat them the same way you would treat a close friend or loved one visiting you. With a house guest, you would be warm and friendly, smile, ask how they’ve been and what’s going on in their life. You would genuinely compliment them and be enthusiastic and animated. You’d be happy they were in your home. That is how you and your staff should be toward your restaurant guests.

How CRM Systems Can Help Improve The Way You Greet Guests

The key to an excellent greeting strategy is personalization. Approaching guests with a personal touch instead of a generic greeting like “welcome to the restaurant” shows them that you care.

How can you make that happen? Through advanced CRM systems like Eat App that help you take your guest experience to the next level.

Grow your guest database on autopilot

These systems help you build rich guest profiles that contain a plethora of information about your diners - from their name and contact information to other details like seating preferences, order history, allergy information, even their birthdays and anniversaries.

Armed with all this information, your hosts can greet diners with a personalized touch that would be impossible without a CRM system. They can greet guests by their name, welcome them back if they are regulars, guide them to their preferred table without being asked to, and treat them in a special way if they are VIP customers.

This level of attention to detail will delight your guests and make them feel special and important, and strengthen their loyalty towards your restaurant.

Greeting customers at your restaurant

12 Tips for Greeting Guests the Right Way

  • Don’t make them wait. Try to attend to the guest within 30 seconds of their arrival, or four rings if they're on the phone.
  • Be polite. This goes without saying, be kind and sincere and greet them with a smile. Make sure to use a soft tone, half of the message is in the tone.
  • Focus on the guest. Don’t be distracted by other things while greeting them, make sure they have your undivided attention so that they feel important.
  • Don’t assume the party size. Even if only 2 guests have walked in, ask them what table size they are looking for. Especially if it’s a single guest, asking “just one?” might make them feel insecure or uncomfortable. 
  • Avoid negative language. Instead of saying 'unfortunately, I don't have any available table right now,' say 'I can have a table available in 30 minutes. Would that be ok?'
  • Don’t use the same greeting every time. Following scripts can be helpful but can sound robotic. Make sure to use a few different greetings and add a personalized touch whenever possible. 
  • Personalize your greeting. Refer to your CRM system to keep track of your regular guests so that you can acknowledge them with their names and welcome them back to the restaurant. This will make diners feel special and improve their experience.
  • Commenting on a guest’s outfit, jewelry, hairstyle, or some genuine compliment lets the guest know you are truly glad they are here. But be careful to not make it too personal.
  • Don’t use their first names. Always stick to using a guest’s title + surname to refer to them instead of their first name, as this creates a more formal conversation. 
  • Use appropriate language. The tone of your greeting is dependent on the restaurant-style. The more sophisticated the restaurant, the more formal your greeting should be. However, it should never be too informal or chatty.
  • Find the balance between efficiency and warmth. Even during busy shifts when you may not have free time, make sure to take a minute to give guests a warm welcome instead of just saying “table for two?” and taking away from their entire dining experience. 
  • Say goodbye. Finishing the guest’s journey on the right note is equally as important as the initial greeting. Don’t disappear once the cheque is cleared, make sure to acknowledge them with a polite goodbye as they leave.

>>>> Download our guide on how to improve your guest experience today

Mini-scripts to Improve the Overall Guest Experience

Below are a few scripts for your host/hostess to greet your customers with. Paired with the tips mentioned above, they will help your guests feel more welcome and start the dining experience off on the right foot. 

Restaurant greeting scripts:

  • Good: Hello, welcome to {restaurant}, how many people will be dining today? 
  • Bad: "table for two?"
  • Good: “Hello, may I have the name on the reservation?” 
  • Bad: “Do you have a reservation?”
  • Good: “I’ll take you to your table”
  • Bad: “Follow me”

Phone scripts:

  • Good: “Hi, thank you for calling {restaurant name}. This is {receiver name} speaking. How may I help you today?”
  • Bad: “This is {restaurant name}”

If the guest’s name has been picked up by caller ID:

  • Good: “Good afternoon/ evening. Am I speaking with Mr/Ms {guest name}? This is {receiver name} speaking from {restaurant name}. How are you today?“
  • Bad: “Hi, this is {receiver name}”

Goodbye scripts:

  • Good: “We hope you enjoyed your visit, Mr/Ms {guest name}, see you again soon!”
  • Bad: “Goodbye”
  • Good: “Thank you for visiting us, we hope you have a great rest of the day”
  • Bad: ”Thanks, bye”

If the customer is regular:

  • Good: “It was great having you over once again, we hope to see you soon!”
  • Bad: “See you again.”

Print out the mini-scripts and take a few minutes before your next pre-shift meeting and present them to your greeters. Ask them to practice the one they like most and role-play them to you at the next pre-shift meeting. Once they get used to using them to greet your guests, you’ll find they’ll want to help create an even more memorable guest experience.Create Your Restaurant Training Manual With Our Free Template Download our easy-to-use template with step-by-step instructions to create  your own easily Download Now

Let us take care of all your restaurant needs

Get started
Request demo