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Timing is everything

When it comes to service, timing is everything.  It can make an impressions that lasts forever.Guests consider timing issues to among the most important...A good sense of timing is a rare and mysterious thing. Actors and comedians with good timing win awards and become legends (think Jack Benny or Jerry Seinfield). Stock traders and businesspeople with good timing are often at the top of their profession (think Bill Gates or Charles Schwab).

In foodservice, good timing is a key to success as well. A great experience in a four-star restaurant is more about impeccable timing than it is about food. If you didn't even notice the service, you've proved my point. Whether they're born with it, or learn it, a truly great service team — white tablecloth or counter service — will have an impeccable sense of timing.

A Restaurants & Institutions / NFOS consumer research study found that guests consider timing issues — specifically, "Someone takes my order in a reasonable amount of time," and "My order arrives in a timely manner" — to be among the top service quality issues.

Guests don't care whether you're slammed or slow. Whether a server is new or a veteran. Their dining experience is about them — not you. They don't want to feel rushed. They don't want to feel ignored. They want to feel taken care of according their own schedule. Some guests have to rush back to work or to the theater. Others want to sit and reminisce with an old friend. Your team needs to assess the situation and match their timing to the customer's pace.

Here's where things can get tricky... when the ability to read minds and body language, and listen to your guests comes into play. Training can help demonstrate the correct or ideal timing for a meal in your restaurant. Demonstrate what it means to match a guests sense of timing. Emphasize the importance of matching the pace the guest wants or needs. Give tips on how to pick up on these subtle cues in the first place.

One the next page, we picked two specific points of service during a guest's dining experience, outlined the importance of timing, and suggested ways of imparting this information to your team.

Remember, timing is everything.

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