The job of a professional server isn't a piece of cake. There's a lot more to it than taking orders and serving food. While it can be a fun and financially rewarding job, it's very demanding work--both physically and mentally. Having a hospitality career requires an outgoing personality and a set of specific skills. Some are personal qualities that you either have or don't. Others are skills you can acquire and polish.
Waiters or waitresses at the top of their game are cheerful and friendly, regardless of how stressed or tired they are. Even if you're juggling the demands of ten tables and 40 guests, you always need to wear your uniform, a friendly smile and be polite. Otherwise, your tips and career will suffer.
Paying attention to detail
A server's job is about focusing on details since orders can become complicated. Details such as food allergies and guest preferences are important. Small things like forgetting a condiment or including croutons when a customer has a gluten allergy can make a big difference in customer satisfaction and health safety. Top earners learn how to focus on the small stuff.
Communicating at all levels
People with successful hospitality careers are excellent communicators. Learn to listen closely to guests, fellow servers and your host or hostess. Also acquire the knack of responding in a way that benefits everyone. You'll be a hero.
A professional server becomes skilled at solving problems on the spot. It instills confidence with guests and staff members. Something like comping a meal or offering a free dessert can transform a disappointed guest into a happy repeat customer. Learn to be creative in how you resolve issues that otherwise would reflect negatively on you and your employer.
Server shifts can be long, tiring and particularly tough on your feet. No one likes to work with or be served by a tired, cranky waiter or waitress. High-energy people tend to thrive best in food service. Even if you're a naturally energetic person, make sure to get plenty of rest and take care of your feet. A comfortable pair (or two) of slip-resistant shoes are a must in your restaurant workwear wardrobe.
Servers are always in the midst of activity and surrounded by people either in the dining room or kitchen. That makes it easy to get distracted. But it's important to keep yourself focused and on task at all times so your customers are cared for. The ability to balance friendliness with focus can be the difference between making a little or a lot.
A successful career waiter or waitress is a devoted team member with a strong work ethic. If you're a good team member, you're committed to the overall success of your fellow staff members and establishment...not just your personal tips.
One last reminder. The key to being a professionally successful server is to focus on your customer/guest, not the money. That's why it's called a "hospitality career."