Last Updated on 1 November 2021
No matter what you call them… your customers, clients, consumers or participants – they are all Guests when they visit your location. Being a great host to those visiting your location is no different from entertaining friends and neighbors at your house.
While we do think about details when planning a big event at home, as restaurant and retail owners, we and our teams need to be great hosts to Guests every day.
Here is our guide to being a great host to Guests – from preparation and during to after your event.
♦ Planning ♦
Have A Plan
You’ve got to prepare and plan if you want to make a great impression. You can’t just wing it and hope it comes together.
|At home, you’d use Paperless Post, Evite, or good, old-fashioned printed invitations.||At your location, if you are hosting a special event (a sale, grand opening, seminar, etc), you’ll use postcards, social media, and good, old-fashioned printed invitations.|
Plan for how many people you want and expect to attend. Plan to have enough: food, drink, entertainment, supplies, and helpers to make the experience just as pleasant and fresh for the first to arrive and the last to arrive.
Additionally, at your location part of your preparation is making sure you have enough staff, that they get time to take breaks and lunch – so they can stay fresh and “on” for your guests.
This sounds quite basic… But, if you want Guests to show up, you’ve got to let them know it’s taking place. Give enough advance notice so your Guests can work the event into their calendar.
Sounds basic… but… put your best foot forward. A great chance to do a “spring cleaning” – making your place spick-and-span.
|At home, you make sure at least the rooms your party guests will be in are clean. The main room, kitchen, living room, and bathrooms. You vacuum, dust, wash windows… making sure your place is comfortable and leaves a great impression.||At your location – it should be the same thing. Each day should be prep-cleaned. Why does dust build up on your light fixtures, merchandise shelves, and massive dust bunnies on the floor? You wouldn’t let that happen at home.|
|At home, in addition to cleaning, you may want to make sure you’ve spruced up the place with decor. Put out a few vases of fresh flowers, light candles. Finally, hang those pictures, get the carpet cleaned.||Too at your location, be sure you’re keeping your decor looking fresh. Maybe change out the drab silk plants. Take down a few of the notes and stickies that are collecting at the POS area.|
What does your place smell like when people first walk in? Is it pleasant and welcoming?
|At home, the smell of appetizers and cookies baking may be all you need. But, your cleaning helps to rid your place of any stale smells.||At your retail shop and especially at your restaurant, the smell of cleaning supplies and bleach is not a good smell. We want to see you keep it clean, not smell it! Get an outsider to tell you how your place smells. We spend so much time in our locations we no longer can pick up if there are any unpleasant odors.|
What sounds do you hear? Is there music that fits your event? Do you bring in live entertainment? Are there sounds guests shouldn’t hear? Employees gossiping to each other? Loud kitchen noises?
♦ During ♦
As Guests Arrive…
Greet Guests – Make sure someone is there to greet and welcome your guests as they first walk in. Make a nice first impression. This is the same at home or at your business location. A smiling, cordial, warm greeter is a perfect way to introduce Guests, and especially new Guests to your location.
Don’t Let There Be Strangers, Make Introductions
|At home, you would introduce your guests to your spouse and family. And introduce one Guest to another. You’ll let them know where the bathroom is, where they can get a drink and where the snacks are.||At your location…while maybe you’re not having customers meet each other, it makes sense to ensure they know who on your team is there to assist them – make their experience better. At your location, you don’t want customers to be strangers to your offerings – your products, services – and the layout of your location.
Here are the changing rooms. Here is the bar. The toilets. The coat check. Here is how you order. Here is how you pay.
As It Continues…
Re-Stock & Refresh – As people dig into your offerings, the display is going to be depleted and messed up – whether a bowl of buffalo wings, a shelf of shirts, or a wall of widgets. Plan to refresh with extra supplies, straighten up what gets messy, and take away what’s finished.
Join The Fun – Make sure you mingle with your Guests. Take this opportunity to get to know who is attending and get to know more about them.
Look For Cues – Watch your guests for non-verbal cues that they may need help. Make sure they don’t look too warm, too shy to ask for help, that their glass isn’t empty.
As People Depart – As they depart, thank them for coming! Ensure they know the event was even more special because they were there. Send them home with a party favor. Perhaps even an offer to return again soon!?
♦ After ♦
Send Thank You Notes – While the Guest is typically supposed to send a “thank you” note, as a business – why not send thank you notes to your Guests? Let them know you appreciated their visit. As I mentioned above, I’m a big fan of Paperless Post. It is a classy way to send thank you notes with a lot of cool designs that you can customize with your logo and brand look. You can import your list with email and name and send personalized messages to each person!
We hope this guide helps you and your team be the best host for all your Guests.