5 Ways to Avoid Bad Service at an Event Meal

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Written by Tracey Daly

July 9, 2013

You’re managing an event with a lunch or dinner and you’re seeing guests looking around and there are no servers to be found. What do you do? When it comes to having your guests receive a flawless meal at your event, you can do a little prep-work before the meal starts to alleviate possible dinner interruptions.

  1. Make sure there are enough servers per guests. Each server Conference room set uphas a lot to do and they can’t always be on the floor. Making sure you have enough wait staff is important so you don’t have huge gaps in service. If you are having passed canapés, passed wine, and a plated dinner, you should have 1 server per every 8-12 guests depending on table size. With every 6-8 servers, you should have a supervisor or captain. The servers are keeping an eye on the individual guests and the captain should be scanning the room for any problems with service. If the meal is a buffet, there should be 1 server per 3 chafing dishes and 1 server per 2-3 tables, depending on size, to clear plates, refill beverages and fulfill their guest’s requests.
  2. Have a short meeting with the staff just prior to the meal to delegate sections and duties. Be clear as to how many servers are to pass canapés and wine, which servers are to man the buffet, who will be the table servers, etc. You are the On-Site Manager and you should know where your staff is at all times. The meeting will also give you the opportunity to ensure the wait staff are all in uniform and have a clean, neat appearance.
  3. There should never be down time.  If you see staff standing around, have them take floor rounds and pass each table to ensure every guest has everything they need. You can also take a quick sweep of the floor to keep an eye out for anything the server should be taking care of. Have servers checking the buffet when there is down time to assist with going to the kitchen to switch out chafing dishes, keeping the stations tidy, and checking the food quality.
  4. Vegetarians and allergies. There may be a guest that has an allergy to an item in the dish, or a vegetarian who did not R.S.V.P. accordingly. Fix this problem before it happens by talking with the chef prior to the meal. Ask what options can be served that are gluten free, vegetarian, or if certain allergy inducing items can be substituted in the dish. You can pass this information along to your staff at the meeting and you will also have the knowledge on hand if the guest stops to ask you about their dish.
  5. Do a walk-through of the dining area. Walk by every setting on every table prior to the guests arriving to make sure the settings are complete, there are no stains on the linens, and no spots on the glassware. Walk by the buffet to make sure the there are enough utensils and chafing dishes for the amount of food that will be served. Make sure there are signs around any food that people might have allergies to (i.e. nuts, seafood). Have a server or supervisor available in case you spot something missing so they can finish the setup.

Being the On-Site Manager allows you to check in with every team that works your event. By doing so, you can be proactive about possible issues and be quick to solve them if they arise. If you always think of ways the meal can possibly go wrong and come up with a solution before it happens, you stand a much better chance of having an issue-free meal.

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