Being a restaurant server isn’t easy but as you gain experience it becomes easier. Here are ten things you can do to make the job of serving tables easier on you and your guests.
1. Plan The Day
Before service get prepared. Check the schedule to see who’s going to be on shift with you. If you’ve worked together before you’ll have a rapport and can plan ahead with your team.
Check the reservations for the night to see what the service volume is going to be like. Getting an idea of when to expect a rush will help you be in the right mindset when it comes.
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2. Greet Customers Warmly
To start off right with your guests greet them warmly with a smile. This builds initial rapport. Ask if they would like to get started with drinks or if they already know what they want to order.
This lets them know that you are taking time to listen and serve their needs. Smiling is the most important part of setting a good first impression.
3. Know Your Job
This comes with experience. Knowing your job as a server means being able to answer guests’ questions with confidence. It means remembering names, or at least what seat number they are so they get the right food.
Make sure your tickets to the kitchen are clear and well organized so your guests always get substitutions they ask for. This shows diners you care.
There is much more to being a good server. Restaurant owners should take careful time to train new servers to ensure the best service possible.
4. Check In With Customers
It’s important to periodically check in with your customers to make sure they have everything they need. Enough napkins and drink refills make sure they are comfortable.
If there are any problems with the food you need to know right away so that you can resolve the issue. Customers become frustrated when they need something but can’t get your attention.
It should go without saying, never ignore customers. Not making eye contact when you’re busy isn’t going to solve the problems, it will just make it worse.
5. Take Note Of Complaints
If customers offer feedback for the restaurant to improve take careful account of their concerns and relay it to your manager.
You may be powerless to correct some of the issues they bring up because it’s “not your department” but don’t tell your guests that.
Apologize for the inconvenience they’ve experienced and assure them that you will make sure management is aware. Many times this reassurance is enough to brighten your customer’s mood after something has upset them.
6. Offer To Comp Items
If customers receive food that is made incorrectly or is not enjoyable to the guest see if you can have the dish comped or provide an additional menu item free of charge.
You’ll probably need a manager’s permission so tell the guest “Let me see what I can do for you” without making promises. A comped item to make a customer happy is not worth more than the loss of return business.
7. Don’t Take It Personally
Sometimes your guests have a bad day and take it out on you. Try not to focus on what you can’t change. Don’t take someone’s bad attitude personally.
Attempt to do what you can to understand the customer’s perspective and work toward a resolution. But don’t internalize their negativity.
You’ll need to stay positive to properly serve your other guests. You need to keep your mind focused and clear to provide the best service.
8. Clear Unused Plates And Fill Drinks
When dining, multiple courses on the table can get quite crowded. Later in the meal guests may need to have their table partially cleared or get another round of drinks.
Perhaps this is the time they’d like to order dessert or get the check. Don’t leave guests unattended for long periods of time just because they haven’t flagged you down.
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9. Be Prompt With The Check
Guests appreciate a server who is prompt with the check. If they have finished ordering return with the check promptly. If your guests have asked for the check themselves that means they are trying to leave.
Don’t make customers who’ve asked for the check wait for an extended period of time. It’s understandable that you have other guests to attend to but the sooner they get the check, the sooner you get your tip and another guest can be seated.
10. Wish Them Farewell
Always make time to wish your guests a farewell when they are leaving. Thank them for their visit and encourage them to come again. This is an important part of closing up the interaction.
To encourage more repeat business guests need to feel like you went out of your way to care about them. If you ignore them after they pay it seems less personal.
Every server wants to have a good night waiting tables and every guest wants standout service. Together you can both get what you want by following these 10 tips.
Plan the day in advance to get mentally and materially prepared for the upcoming service. Make sure every guest feels welcome with a warm greeting. Know your job and take growth in your position seriously. There’s nothing like experience to build confidence.
Check in with your customers throughout service and take note of any negative comments. Try to smooth things over with comped items if required. Understand that if a guest is particularly hard on you that you can’t take it too personally or it can affect your service for the rest of the night. Stay calm.
Keep guests’ tables clear of unused items and make sure to provide refills. When guests ask for the check return with it promptly so they don’t become impatient. Finish off service with a warm farewell and suggest they return soon. Do all this and you’re sure to make waiting tables painless.
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