Quick Guide: Working as a Restaurant Host/Hostess

By Kaitlin Hurtado on June 30, 2017

As much as the thought of having a job heavy with customer service makes you want to run for the hills, they are often the most abundant, especially for college students seeking part-time jobs to help them pay tuition, rent, and other necessities.

From being a cashier at a fast-food chain to being a restaurant host/hostess, the field of dining offers plenty of jobs to college students just like you.

If the idea of working as a restaurant host/hostess sounds appealing as a prospective job position, continue reading to learn what is expected of you if you work as a restaurant host/hostess.

Image via pixabay.com

A brief job description

When you go to a dine-in restaurant, there is often an employee that greets you as you walk into the restaurant’s lobby. They often ask how many people are in your party, tell you if there is a wait, and are the ones to lead you to your table. They hand out menus, introduce you to your waitress, and you most likely won’t see them again until you are leaving the restaurant after eating. These employees are the restaurant host or hostess and their main priority is to greet diners and make sure they are seated.

They map out who will be sitting where and which server gets what table. Their job is to make sure that everyone is pleased and that the seating is efficient. They can’t put too many tables under one waiter, but they also can’t have parties waiting too long to get seated. They answer the lobby’s phone and often take care of reservations. They also keep track of how many tables are open, need to be cleaned, etc.

Unlike restaurant servers, restaurant hosts/hostesses generally do not get tips. However, they generally get paid a higher hourly wage than restaurant servers do, which somewhat makes up for the lack of tips.

Give the best customer service you can

As a restaurant host/hostess, you will most likely be the first person that will interact with customers. You will make up their first impression of the restaurant, especially when it comes to evaluating the customer service of the restaurant. You are more or less the face of the restaurant when customers walk in. If you are sitting down or are on your phone when they first walk in, it makes the restaurant employees look lazy and the restaurant itself run slow, leaving the customers’ imaginations to run wild to figure out why you could be acting like that in front of a customer in plain sight. You have to greet them positively when they first walk in the door.

If a restaurant host/hostess greets customers with a bored expression or jumps straight into “How big is your party today?” the customer will feel like their business is not wanted and will be put off by the less than welcoming atmosphere. You want to greet the customer with as genuine of a smile that you can muster and attempt to strike up a welcoming conversation with the customer before leading the conversation to their dining preferences.

You should do your best to make sure that the first part of their dining experience is the best it can be, as the rest of it is in the hands of the restaurant servers and the chefs.

Be on your feet and alert at all times 

Like other positions you can work as in a restaurant, being a restaurant host/hostess requires you to spend most of your shift on your feet. Depending on the restaurant you are working in, the host/hostess area varies. Sometimes you will just be standing behind a counter/podium to greet customers. Other restaurants have seating for the host/hostess to sit at while they greet customers. But most often, you will be active in greeting customers and walking them to their tables. On busy days, you will have limited time to sit back and relax outside of scheduled breaks.

You don’t want to be found slouching against a wall with your head down by your manager or prospective customers. It might be a bad day for you or the end of a long shift, but to new customers, it might as well be the beginning of your shift and they could be your first customers of the day.

Even when there are no customers in the lobby at the moment, don’t resort to exploring Instagram for a few minutes. You never know when a customer will sneak up on you, whether they are new customers and you just happened to miss the sound of the door opening, or if they are customers that are on the way out. You want to make sure that every customer that crosses your path gets equally great customer service at the beginning and end of their dining experience.

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