The Brunch Buffet: A Financial Gold Mine or a Disaster
By Joanna Harralson Vice President Operations, The Insight Group International | October 28, 2008
As every hotel manager knows, a good buffet can be a tremendous marketing tool for promoting a hotel's banquet and catering services, as well as being a magnet to attract a constant crowd of discriminating guests willing to pay for great food, attentive service and pleasant, relaxed surroundings. But what defines a good buffet? And how does one realize healthy profits while avoiding huge losses, including those suffered through employee theft or carelessness?
To answer satisfactorily, we must consider what comprises each of these components.
Host Staff - Greeting, Seating, & Logging Hard Checks
For our purposes, we'll pretend we're guests arriving at the ever popular hotel Brunch Buffet when no menu service is offered. If everything is as it should be, we are pleasantly greeted by neatly attired host staff, escorted to a well-appointed table, and a hard check is placed on the tabletop. This hard check will later be paired with the check presented to the guest with payment by the cashier to be tracked. Why the use of a hard check? Without buffet check controls, servers on the 'honor system' have the opportunity to reuse checks, presenting the same check to more than one table, pocketing cash payments, until the check is closed to a credit card or room charge.
Tip 1: The hard check provided at seating can counter the practice of check reuse, which occurs when a dishonest employee-kept to only an honor system-accepts payment from one guest, then presents the same check to another guest. Each time this check is reused, the employee can pocket the cash payment.
Tip 2: Servers should close and turn in their checks along payments in a timely manner. Keeping too many checks open for extended periods of time (closing them in batches), creates an atmosphere conducive for check reuse.