With a title as fancy as "maître d'," you'd expect the job description to require equally elaborate tasks – and you'd be right!
Maître d's are responsible for optimizing guest satisfaction. They're the first people that diners meet when entering an upscale restaurant. Appearance and attitude is everything for maitre d's, underscoring the importance of attention to detail.
Dress the part
A trademark of maître d's is their presentation. Finely tailored suits, perfect hair and well-shined shoes give diners the immediate impression that they'll be well cared for by these individuals. Being dressed to the nines is a requirement as a maître d', as are social skills, professionalism and creating diner loyalty through personal touches.
As a maître d', you never know where your tasks will take you. If there's a particularly important guest, you may choose to go into the kitchen and serve the food yourself. You'll move from table to table all the time, meeting diners, forming professional relationships and ensuring that everyone is happy. Given how much a maître d' moves around, investing in comfortable slip-resistant shoes is important. This will ensure that you stay safe, feel good and look good.
Recognize the duties
Maître d's aren't just responsible for guaranteeing guest satisfaction. They're also in charge of the front-of-house staff and ensuring that the connection between the kitchen and dining room goes smoothly and efficiently.
Here are some aspects of being a maître d' that you should keep in mind if you're considering the job:
- Sociability: You're expected to be the first and last person that guests interact with, so you have to be conversational without being chatty. Otherwise, other guests may not receive the attention they need. It's an art that'll take time to master, so be patient and learn from your mistakes.
- Professionalism: As the maître d', you'd essentially be the headwaiter. Therefore, it falls on you to be professional at all times, including and especially when guests are unsatisfied for whatever reason. Reaching a compromise and ensuring that diners leave happy takes patience and levelheadedness. Additionally, you need to know what decisions are within your authority to make.
- Managerial duties: A restaurant is a fast-paced environment. At any given moment, there are busboys, servers and guests moving around the dining area. Slips and trips can happen at any time. Frequently walking the floor and keeping an eye out for any spills or obstructions can help keep everybody safe. To optimize safety for servers and busboys, recommending nonslip shoes can be a subtle but effective way of letting your employees know that you care for their well-being.
- A good memory: It's up to maître d's to form professional relationships with guests. Therefore, an ability to remember faces, names and dining preferences will allow you and the restaurant that you represent to stand out. After all, there are many food service venues where diners are faceless customers. Prevent this from happening at your restaurant by playing your role as a maÎtre d'.
- Time management: Often, it'll seem like you need to be everywhere at once – welcoming guests, ensuring that diners are fully satisfied with their food, saying goodbyes to regulars and newcomers and more. Knowing what tasks to prioritize, when to move onto the next guest and delegating other responsibilities is critical. It'll take practice as you get used to the restaurant's operations, but once you've familiarized yourself with the venue, it'll be a breeze.
If you're sociable, love leaving lasting impressions on people and flourish in fast-paced environments, then being a maître d' may be your calling!
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