A hosting position is a fantastic introduction to the restaurant industry. A beginner hostess gets to learn a lot about the running of a restaurant and how the various industry jobs connect together. While at first you might just be showing guests to an empty table, when you get into the swing of things you’ll be helping out the waiters with carrying drinks or clearing tables, or even helping the bar staff with filling the free fizzy drink refills. They seem like simple tasks but there are a lot of variables of the job you’ll need to pay attention to, rather than following the set rules all of the time.
So, you’ve managed to get a hosting job for the first time. Or perhaps you’ve been offered a hosting job but you don’t have any previous experience and aren’t sure what to expect from your first day. You’re excited to get going but don’t want to make any mistakes, as you’re new to hosting, you won’t want to risk getting shouted at from servers or getting let go. Well, you don’t need to worry about anything like that. This is our handy post about how to be a hostess with no experience. The two main things to keep in mind are:
Keeping To The Rotation At First
At first, you should stick to the rotation you’ve been given. As this is your first hosting job, you might not even know what they mean by rotation. It’s the simple concept used to decide where to seat guests in the restaurant. You’ll be given a floor plan of the tables in the restaurant that’s split into different sections. For example, if there are 3 waiters on the shift, it will be split into 3 sections with each server being given a different section to wait on. Anyone seated in a section can only be served by that particular waiter and that waiter will get any tips left in that section.
In order to keep everything fair, ensuring each server has a similar amount of work and a similar amount of tips, you should seat a table in the 1st section, then the 2nd section, then the 3rd, then back to the 1st, and so on. This is known as the rotation and as a rule, you should try and stick to it at all times. On your first few shifts, you should stick to it until you get in the swing of things. If a customer makes a specific request, however, for example, asking if they can sit next to the window or sit near the door, then you should be amenable to them. If there is such a table free, sit them where they would like, as customer satisfaction is key. Then go back to the usual rotation and miss that section out the next time, just the once, to try and keep things fair.
Rotation can be a big deal in restaurants and sometimes servers might get annoyed if they think you’re placing too many guests in their section or not enough in their section, so try and be fair at all times, and explain to them that this customer asked specifically for something.
After your first few shifts, you should be ready to begin straying from the rotation ever so slightly. If a large party comes in, then you may want to miss out the section you sat them in until you’ve noticed they have their drinks and they no longer have their menus. This practice gives the waiter for that section some time to catch up, as a large table takes more time to organise and set up. They will also buy more food and are likely leave a larger tip, so it makes sense to allow the other sections to take an extra table or two.
After a week or so, you’ll begin to get a good idea about each individual server and their capabilities. You might have a few waiters who are super on top of everything and capable of handling the busier periods. You’ll get a sense of which servers are a little slower at, say, taking initial orders, and need some extra time between big groups of people. These observational skills mean that once you’ve gotten to know the place, you might be switching the rotation up a little bit to play to your servers’ strengths, which is totally fine. But at first, until you find your feet, keep to the rotation and you can’t go wrong.
Helping Servers If You Can
Some hosts have helping servers with odd bits and bobs as part of their job description. Others won’t. But it’s nice to help out anyway. Servers might feel annoyed at hosts for sending too many or too few their way, which is why they’re likely to say things during times when no guests are coming through the doors, but there are tables just vacated or guests still eating. The waiters, and employers, may look over at you, see you standing there, and think you’re not doing anything. It’s important to never let this happen, you always want to look like you’re working hard, if for no other reason than to help the server-host relationship.
So, how can you help keep busy and create a nice relationship with your co-workers? Well, one thing you can do is help waiters clean the tables and set them if there is nothing else you can be doing. You can also help take drinks out to tables if they’re rushed and you’re not doing anything. But it’s really important to speak to the server first so they know you’re taking the drinks, and they don’t get freaked out and worried that they haven’t done it yet, make extra drinks, and then double up the table’s drink orders. Communication is key. You should let the servers know you’re planning on doing any of these things just in case they don’t want you interfering at certain times. It’s good to make sure you’re tuned in with their needs.
A first day at a new job can be daunting, especially when it’s your first day in that particular role or in the industry. But there’s really no need to panic. The company hiring you know that you’ve never been working as a host before, so they’re going to offer you some training and a warming up period, rather than dropping you in the deep end, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared and keep these things in mind.
How Else Can You Be Prepared For Your First Day?
You need to prepare every aspect of your first day, and clothing is a big one. You might know what colours or type of clothes are required for you, but have you thought about your shoes? Restaurant shoes need to be comfortable, to get you through those long shifts. They need to be easy to clean from possible spills. But most importantly, they need to be slip-resistant. Slips, trips, and falls are the most common workplace accident, and on those shiny restaurant floors, the likelihood is increased.
You might be required to wear slip-resistant shoes as part of your uniform policy, but even if you’re not required to, it’s worth considering having that layer of safety. You don’t want to slip on your first day - a first impression that will be hard to shake. Shoes For Crews' specially designed shoes will get you through the shift safely and then get you home safely, too.
We’ve tested our shoes to make sure we’re offering you maximum protection. But don’t just take our word for it. Download the test results for free to see just how safe you could be.