Congratulations on landing your new job as a restaurant server! Here are some tips from seasoned servers (no pun intended) to help you be a big success.
Wear good restaurant shoes.
Waiting on tables is hard on your feet. Waiters and waitresses need a good pair of black server shoes that fit well and provide comfort, non-slip traction and durability.
Get ready to do grunt work.
Be prepared to do linens, silverware and glassware, filling condiments, restocking napkins, and other tasks that seem menial but are important for business. Don’t slack or sneak off to the back for a cigarette. Get rid of that cell phone and concentrate on working and working hard.
You'll build instant rapport and gain total control of the table with this friendly greeting. Introduce yourself, too, and you're more likely to have a happy table that connects with you. It also leads to bigger tips.
Smile like you mean it.
It’s important to show you’re happy to be working as a waitress or waiter. A smile also helps smooth the way with difficult customers.
Speaking of difficult customers.
Here's a 4-point plan for diffusing complaints. (1) Listen closely without interrupting. (2) Apologize and repeat the complaint back to the customer. (3) Offer your best solution; then offer a second remedy. (4) Tell the complainer you are genuinely interested in his or her suggestions to help you improve the service you provide your customers.
Practice at home.
Practice balancing food and drink trays and maneuvering around people and tables at home where it's less embarrassing.
Put cold plates (salads, etc.) on your arm, soups in your dominant hand and everything else elsewhere. If you have to put a hot plate on your arm, put a napkin or towel underneath it to avoid burns. Same goes for carrying plates that are hot, carry a napkin to use as a potholder. Your fingers will thank you.
At any given moment you'll have ten things that need to be done and 5 or 6 tables relying on you for great service. Learn to prioritize these things in your head in the order of importance. Multitasking is an important part of your job as a waiter or waitress.
Make it easy for customers to leave a tip.
For example, if a customer gives you a $20 bill for a $14.95 ticket, bring five $1 bills and a nickel for change. You'll most likely get some part of it as your tip. Bring back a $5 bill and nickel and you may get the fiver ... or the nickel.
Be nice to the kitchen staff.
Say please, thank you and compliment them on the food they prepare. Also be prepared to work with cooks whose first language isn't English (said another way ...."learn the lingo gringo.") Do this and they'll be more likely to treat you nicely and be understanding when you come into the kitchen saying, "Someone is asking for salsa without onion."
Be your customer's expert.
Know as much as you can about the menu, culinary terms, cocktail ingredients, wine, wine pairings, allergies and other aspects of your restaurant. For example, be ready to answer questions such as, "Can you split an entree for me?" " Does it cost extra?" "What's the difference between sauté and pan roasted?"
Checking with your tabled is the only way to know if guests are happy, need something or have questions. If they're deep in conversation and you don't want to interrupt, let them know you're available by giving the table a slow pass or refilling water glasses. Be aware of your customers and surroundings at all time.
Say "Thank you!"
Thank guests for dining with you. Invite them to come back and encourage them to ask for you by name when they visit. It's a great way to build a base of regular customers.
And good luck with your new job as a server!