The friendly face that greets diners might also be hiding unethical behaviors. Restaurant host ethics are often overlooked as managers often pay more attention to waitstaff.
However, hosts are customers first experience with your restaurant. Ensuring their ethics are of the highest caliber helps make your restaurant better for diners and the rest of your staff.
1. Taking Bribes
For busy restaurants, one of the most common restaurant host ethics issues is taking bribes. A customer slips them some money in exchange for getting seated ahead of others who might have been waiting 30 minutes to hour or more. Consistently taking bribes causes many customers to leave, especially if they notice what’s going on. As a result, they might tell other people or leave negative reviews about their experience.
Another issue is the host gets to pocket the bribe, earning extra money they don’t have to report to the IRS. Overall, it’s a major problem that can quickly get out of control.
2. Helping Out Specific Waitstaff
Part of a restaurant host’s job is to try to seat diners evenly throughout the various sections so your waitstaff get an equal share of customers. This helps ensure more fair pay as well. However, hosts might decide to help out specific waitstaff to boost their pay.
They might just be friends or the waiter offers a percentage of their tips. Either way, the host ensures that person gets more tables than anyone else. They might also make sure they get diners who tend to tip much higher or drink more, which can lead to more tips. This creates animosity among waitstaff and can end up leaving you shorthanded. And, if the waiter in question isn’t that great at their job, which may be why they’re asking for help from the host, you could lost customers too.
3. Giving Friends Preferred Seating
Just like with taking bribes, another common restaurant host ethics issue is ensuring friends and family get seated first, no matter how many names are currently on the wait list. Showing favoritism might make their friends and family love them, but it angers other diners who followed the rules and should get seated next.
Often, hosts try to cover up the issue by saying the people made a reservation. While this might work occasionally, if it starts happening often, it quickly becomes unbelievable and can cause customers to just eat elsewhere.
4. Arranging Discounts For Friends
This is actually a major ethics issue with waitstaff as well as hosts. Often, restaurants offer discounts to their staff. However, some hosts go a step further and ensure their friends and family get big discounts on food and beverages. This might include free drinks, percents off, free dessert and more. All of this costs your restaurant money.
The best way to reduce and eliminate restaurant host ethics issues with an ethics hotline. Encourage all of your staff to report any ethics issues they see. They can even do it anonymously. Then, you can set up an investigation to see exactly what your host might be doing when you’re not around.