Your Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Host Training

The role of a host is exceptionally important. Whether your establishment is a very high-end or a quality family diner with a homey feel, the host is the first point of contact for your clientele. 

That means they set the tone for the guest’s entire experience. We’re going to discuss host training in this article, giving you some insight into the role of a host in a restaurant and how you can train your staff to be the best they can be.

Let’s get started:

Host Training: The Ins and Outs of Training a Great Host

The first thing to acknowledge, if you haven’t already, that hosting is a difficult job. It’s also a job that holds a lot in the balance.

To start, hosts have to greet guests and cooperate with whatever they may need. This is a difficult thing to do on its own. Anyone in the service industry knows that guests are largely pleasant, but there’s always going to be a group of people that is particularly fussy and demanding. 

This is to be expected, but it’s a host’s job to greet those customers with a smiling face and a welcoming attitude. Next, we have to acknowledge that planning and coordinating people with tables is a difficult task as well. 

When a large group comes in without a reservation, it’s on the host to read the room, deliver the potentially hard news to guests, and leave them with a positive feeling even if they weren’t able to get a table. 

Finally, a quality host keeps your servers in a good mood. Tables are the source of the wait staff’s primary income. When a server gets skipped in the rotation, they’re denied the opportunity to earn tips. 

Alternatively, a host can bog a server down with too many tables and decrease the quality of their job significantly. This also affects tips.

Make Sure Your Hosts Know the Room

The first thing to do is to train your hosts on the basics of your restaurant. They should understand the arrangement of tables, the volume of customers on any given night, and the capabilities they have when it comes to adjusting things. 

In other words, your hosts should be confident in their ability to pull tables together, tell customers definitive answers, and communicate their ideas to the management and wait staff. 

It’s normal for a beginner host to make a few mistakes along the way, but the bulk of your hosts and hostesses should be able to confidently navigate even the busiest of nights. 

When customers get caught up in the entryway because of errors or apprehensions made by the hosts, the entire flow of the waitstaff, cook staff, and customer experience can get interrupted. 

Train Basic Service Skills

Your hosts probably won’t be taking orders, but, if your restaurant allows it, they should be able to take drink orders and relay them to servers. 

This will expedite the process of ordering and improve customer experience. IF your group is served waters and coffee immediately, for example, you won’t be as frustrated if there’s a little delay in your server’s arrival. 

Most people who have worked in customer service can intuitively understand how to take some small drink orders. It’s likely that this will only mean getting waters or sodas, maybe the occasional alcoholic beverage. 

That said you should be explicit about your expectations and provide adequate training in that area, even if your staff is confident. This will give your hosts the ability to confidently handle the front end of the entire customer experience. 

Make Sure They Understand Your Point of Sale

Restaurant POS systems are the brain center of the whole operation. It’s important that everyone understands the restaurant’s system through and through. 

When it comes to hosts, entering seating, assigning wait staff, entering drinks and, potentially, appetizers are going to most important. Point of sale systems are typically a little confusing at first, but most people learn quickly when they start using them on the job. 

That said, you should set aside some time to train the staff on an overview of the system and its functions. This might entail a boring hour of sitting and watching instructional videos, but that training will help your bottom line when it’s busy and your staff has a solid understanding of the machine. 

You should also make a point to ensure that everyone knows how to work the system and that all staff is using it in the same way. Inconsistencies can really hurt when things get hectic.

Make Sure They Understand Their Value

At first thought, hosts and hostesses might not think that their job is terribly important. It’s typically the first job that a person gets at a restaurant and they aren’t given too much respect off of the bat. 

These ideas are false, and it’s important that your staff knows that their role is crucial to the functioning of your establishment. Whether that means letting hosts know that they’re appreciated or rewarding them on merit, they should know that they’re.

People who are appreciated are better, happier employees. Plus, you wouldn’t want to have a staff full of people who dread coming to work, punch in and punch out, and don’t feel like they have anything of value to put forth. 

Establishing a company culture of mutual respect and appreciation will motivate people to engage in their place of work and enjoy the work they do. 

One great way to show your thanks to employees is to give back to community organizations or charities that they care about. Social responsibility is a huge draw for potential employees. Beyond that, a bonus never hurts!

Want to Learn More?

Running a restaurant is a difficult process. There are a lot of moving parts involved, and we’re here to help. Everything from bureaucratic issues to host training hiccups can get in the way of a well-oiled business. 

Explore our site to get more information on restaurants, training, and more. 

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.