For anyone in the hospitality or event management sectors, the phrase "you only have one opportunity to make a first impression" is the type of mantra to set your career by. While this might be a cliche, it is certainly true. Whether in the restaurant/cafe environment or at an event, the first time you interact with a customer could be your only chance to ensure that they return in the future.
While a customer might be just another face to someone working, clients have long memories, so the way that you behave and appear during the first meeting is their chance to assess your professionalism and make a determination of whether they come back. This begs an interesting question: what are the keys to a good first impression? Read on to find out.
Your personal presentation is also a reflection on your employer.
Before you speak to a customer for the first time, it is likely that they have judged your professionalism based on what you look like. Of course, this doesn't refer to your face or nose shape, it is the way that you present yourself in a work setting.
Based on the environment, make sure you are wearing appropriate attire – whether it is supplied to you or not. Additionally, consider your posture which needs to be a combination of relaxed, confident and straight. If customers feel like you do not care about working at an event or location, why should they return in the future?
Your personal presentation is also a reflection on your employer. If you appear distracted, disengaged or poorly-kept, this is the image that some customers will portray on the entire restaurant or event. As such, there needs to be a consistent personal presentation standard that all employees abide by.
Greeting customers with pride
Once you look and act the part, the next key to making a first impression is by greeting and interacting with customers in the best possible way. As well as making eye contact, be sure to have a positive smile on your face to make the customer feel welcomed and at ease. Of course, you are there to do a job, but a friendly greeting will go a long way to ensuring customers return in the future.
It is also important to highlight the value of making every customer experience special. You may be looking after 20 tables at a restaurant, but each client should feel like they have your undivided attention. During busy periods, this could be tricky, but ensuring every interaction is honest and true should be your focus.
Of course, if something does go wrong, be sure to fix the situation as quickly and smoothly as possible. As mentioned above, customers have long memories so ensure that your service is not the reason why they don't return.
Remember to say goodbye
At the end of the night after food has been served or the event is wrapping up, it is not too late to make a good first impression on customers. As well as asking about their night and greeting your customers goodbye, your behaviour around all guests will still be noticed. This could include not packing up around customers as it could be interpreted negatively and ruin a good evening of service.
The aim for all employees in the service industries is to make the customer feel appreciated for coming. Regardless of whether it is the first time you have talked to someone or the tenth, if clients feel genuinely valued, there is no doubt that they will want to return and bring their friends and family next time!
For more information about entering the hospitality or event management sectors, feel free to get in touch with our team today.