Most likely when you became a server you weren’t handed a “how to” guide on your first day. It definitely takes a certain personality and skill set to be a waiter or waitress, but you will learn best on the job.
It’s important to remember that being a good server at a restaurant isn’t just about ensuring the guests get their orders on time, or smiling as you guide them towards their designated tables. It’s also about focusing on the finer details of their customer experience.
A good restaurant owner will realize that great waitrons are crucial in the success of their business, just as much as the menu and ambiance.
We are hear to give you some good news-your great restaurant servers are made, not born. Every server out there has the potential to live up to guests’ expectations – they just need a bit of extra training.
So, whether you want to hone the serving skills of your staff or train them to lead by example, following a few tricks can help the be the best at their job.
KNOWING THE MENU
An important thing to remember is that servers are the main touch point for the diners and are often the only ones with direct contact to them.
It’s crucial that they are well versed about everything that’s on the menu and know it inside out so that they can answer any questions posed by the diners, or they will be running around the floor trying to get clarity.
This includes knowing exactly what’s on the menu and the ingredients of each dish in order to assist the diners with allergies & dietary preferences. If you aren’t sure, be polite and let them know you’ll find out for them, don’t leave the hanging with a blunt “I don’t know”.
MAKE A CONNECTION
Creating a great experience for your guests is the number one priority of a server. Any server will tell you that they have at least one million things running through their mind during a shift. They are juggling lots of tables at various different stages of their meals and could have drinks up at the bar food in the kitchen and all while a table was just sat. So multi-tasking is at the top of the list.
Servers need to be able to manage the experience your customer has which means not reverting to robot status by just taking, entering, and fulfilling your guests’ orders. The effort needs to be taken to have a personal connection with the guests as this will have a drastic impact on tips, sales, and restaurant’s overall performance.
Lets help here, with some tips:
- Definitely don’t divulge your life story every time, it can be as simple as introducing yourself
- Writing a quick “thank you” on the check.
- Telling a quick joke
- Offer detailed recommendations
- Gage your customers everyone is different, so some might enjoy a bit more personal touches, while others will want to be left alone.
BE PREPARED FOR NITTY GRITTY WORK
A good server is always ready to put in the work regardless of the nature of a task. You’ll see them doing crappy jobs that people hate doing like filling condiments, restocking napkins and preparing linens without complaining and that’s what sets them apart.
You too can help prepare your servers for grunt work by making them run their plates, clean their section, and do any other tasks you have in the restaurant.
Incorporating jobs that lack the glamor and prestige will help you test your servers’ limits to see how much they want to excel and how much they can take. Also, it’ll enable you to see which servers are okay with working crummy shifts and hours that everyone typically hates.
Top servers are usually ready to take whatever sections/tables/tasks their managers give them.
HANDLE SQUATTERS CAREFULLY
Squatters, or whatever you call them are honestly the bane of every restaurant server’s existence. They sit at your table for what feels like forever either after they’ve paid, or even before. Every time you go up to offer the check they say they are ok “for now” sometimes giving false hope that more is to be ordered.
It’s cool that your guests are having a nice time and want to stay, but they are don’t realize they are holding up the flow of your seatings. Whilst one server is waiting for a table to pack up and head home, another gets double-sat, sending them into a “weeds” while an even longer line starts to form at the door.
It’s frustrating because they are costing the restaurant and the server money. However, you need to be careful in how you kindly suggest them to leave without sounding rude. Its a case by case situation, so again gage the people and your relationship you’ve had with them throughout their dining. I used to say ” Hey , its been great having you, but can you move over to the bar to continue with your drinks? We have a long line of hungry customers.” 9/10 times it worked fine, and you will get customers who get offended but just handle with care.
Most servers know that some customers are unbelievably easy to handle while others sitting at separate tables can be incredibly difficult. What they aren’t aware of are the steps they can take to make things go as smoothly as possible when do get a high maintenance group.
For example, after they’ve served meals on one of their tables, rather than asking whether patrons need anything in general, they can ask about specific items such as refills, utensils or condiments.
By specifically calling items out, servers can minimize their trips over an extra spoon or a bottle of ketchup because the diner forgot to request it the first time around. Also, a proactive server can make your restaurant appear as detailed oriented and genuinely caring of its customers.
Moreover, it goes without saying, but refilling glasses before they are empty is always an indication of good service and shows that you’ve employed top servers at your restaurant.
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See you next week!
Your devoted hostess,