by Egi Gaisie

It is very tempting to write about my recent experience as a victim to poor food service in one of our top hotels but I intend to restrain myself since one of my objectives in the blog is to place myself in the shoes of hotel personnel in each department I focus on.

In the first article in the food service series (…creating the experience), I generally threw a challenge to practitioners in the industry, particularly the food and beverage service department in hotels, towards becoming more creative in the service of Ghanaian foods. I suggested working around themes, exploring exciting ways to present food and drink products and paying attention to how best to enhance the interaction between service personnel and guests/customers. The second article addressed the need for top management in the industry to commit to thorough orientation for the newly employed, particularly since personnel usually lack the required competencies.

In food and beverage service, team work is critical but as a member of the team I would want to be at my best, so whatever capacity personnel are working in, whether as waiters (in restaurants, lounges, room service, banqueting, and snack bar), restaurant hostesses, cashiers, bartenders or food runners, providing exceptional service should be considered by the individuals in the team.

Our attitudes betray us in many ways before, during and after the service. In this article we look at before the service and provide some suggestions to equip you to offer exceptional service.

Generally, exceptional is a compliment––”the service was exceptional” means it was better than what was expected.

Food service assumes many forms today even if we narrow our focus to only hotels. Basic food service standards seem to be presumed by all and sundry, however nothing is more important than one’s attitude! A choice of attitude impacts every decision made on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis.

For the many entering the food service arena to work, I must confess that our own eating practices are without flair. We eat with our hands, a spoon or a fork; not with fork and knife. We do not make a distinction between a teaspoon and a coffee spoon nor are we particular about drinking our soups with soup spoons. Spare me, when it comes to the silverware which should accompany desserts, we think it is frivolous, perhaps except for scooped ice cream. There are diverse crockery and tableware which most of us may be seeing for the first time particularly if we are new comers in the industry.

When it comes to beverages, we drink from the bottle, a cup or any glass without making a fuss of the appropriate glass required for a particular beverage.

There are varieties of equipment, table linen and condiments and a major headache is a menu of dishes totally unfamiliar to us!Trust our hotel chefs to confound us with names of foods even for our common ‘kelewe’!

Indeed this whole food service work arena can be quite intimidating without the guest’s presence how much more when a guest or two walk in!

As a restaurant hostess years back, although I was taken through a thorough training I still felt intimidated when customers looked at me twice as I greeted them with my heavy Ghanaian English accent.

Once you are on the food service ‘floor’ even if you are only cashiering,exceptional service begins with you.

Adopt an eager attitude to learn. Aim at:

  • Demonstrating a keen knowledge about the company you are working in.
  • Learning the food and drink products(reciting the entirety of the menu, specials, wine list, etc.).
  • Explaining in detail each menu item and providing suggestions to guests with ease.
  • Learning about food safety
  • Demonstrating knowledge of the uses of specialist equipment, the importance of the presentation and appearance of the food service environment, the factors that contribute to creating the right ambiance and atmosphere for dining, the specific tasks to be completed to prepare for service). These could be in respect to room service, lounge service, restaurant service etc.
  •  Learning the language of service: ‘My pleasure,’ instead of ‘Okay.’ ‘Please accept my apologies,’ rather than, ‘I’m sorry.’(Practice this with your colleagues, they may make fun of you but remember your goal is to stand out).
  • Practicing proper etiquette. This goes beyond ‘service with a smile.’  It includes serving female guests first and exhibiting an appropriate posture etc.
  • Developing a positive attitude, cheery disposition and being accommodating.
  • ‘Reading’ the personality of colleagues.(you will be reading customers/guests on the service floor)
  • Dressing, speaking and acting professionally

No job is too small to put in the above effort. Nature has a way of rewarding. All the best.

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