Even though times are tough and money is tight, it is imperative that you treat your front of house team as the asset they ought to be.
Realistically, there are an extraordinary number of restaurants and cafes in dining out's "middle ground" and this is where a substantial proportion of the public's spending ends up.
The challenge is for these businesses to make themselves "stand out from the crowd." Many contend that most eateries have dropped the ball when it comes to the basics of good service. The key is to get businesses to place a value on service. Granted any business can pay a few dollars to get the latest backpacker to wash dishes and collect plates from tables but the question has to be of what long term benefit is this going to be to your business? Investment in the training and mentoring of your floor staff would arguably be of benefit to you both now and in the long term, particularly with setting the correct standard on the floor.
The question obviously then is how do you improve?
The first step is to acknowledge firstly that you have an issue and take a long look at your premises from a customer's point of view. Be a customer for an hour ... sit down, order something, watch the interactions between staff and customers. Take the time afterwards to give honest feedback to your staff and share the experience.
Next go to some of your competitors and honestly assess where your business is in comparison. In other words, how good are they? Your competitors can provide a valuable reference point for your business. As a customer did you feel welcome and valued? What was the standard of the food and did it provide value for money? How did the floor staff manage the flow of customers?
Finally, armed with all of this knowledge, you need to make the time to assess and implement changes to your own business. If you value your business, you will find the time and money if necessary to improve your business.
Remember to serve your customers with distinction!