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Use proper English and good communication skills. Donít respond to a guest saying thank you with mHm, say youíre welcome. Do your best not to allow what you say to sound ďcannedĒ. i.e. what beers you have or which dressings are available. Look at the guest when speaking to them, itís polite.
 
Donít chew gum while serving and donít eat where anyone can see you. If you must eat during your shift make sure your breath isnít going to suffer from it and please make sure your face is clean before walking out on the floor and donít forget to wash your hands. Speak slowly and clearly when speaking, always assume the person has a hearing problem. This doesnít mean yell at people but it does mean you should enunciate. Itís water, not wadder,
 
Never correct a guest. Please notice the period! I worked in a seafood restaurant which served Mahi-mahi. You wouldnít believe some of the pronunciations I heard. Iíve been asked how to pronounce something and have had to ask what they were talking about but Iíve never corrected a guest.
 
Donít use terms of endearment. Even if you know your guest well enough to do so, donít. Honey, sweetie, dearÖ leave those for outside of work.
 
There is one word you should never use and that is the word no. There is always another way to phrase your response, find it. Never say, ďI donít knowĒ. You can adlib your response or simply use the old standard, ďThatís a great question. Please allow me a moment to find the answer.Ē In informal situations Iíll answer something like, ďNope, but I do know thatís a great question and if you give me just a moment, Iím sure I can find the answer.Ē
 
How you phrase a question is important if you want to elicit a response you want. For example, if you are attempting to sell an item donít use the word need. ďNeedĒ causes them to think about the purchase. Do I need it? The answer is usually a resounding no. Instead use a word such as like. Youíll find yourself selling more. In my opinion, every tiny thing matters when you are creating a positive experience for your guests. If you ask them if they need something, not only are you going to get a no, but no is a negative. Asking if the would like is going to get a yes which is not negative and they are going to enjoy their meal more. Remember, weíre building positive experiences which will foster better feelings which in turn will result in return guests and, with all things working together, hopefully higher earnings for the server and the House.
 
There is a phrase which fits perfectly: accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. If you accomplish this the benefits are tremendous. Your guests are happier as are you and you stand to make more money. Happy people and more money, thatís a win in my book.
 
There are a couple of times when you donít want to make people wait. These are the worst times and most noticeable. When they have just been seated; they may be thirsty or in a hurry, you should greet them within thirty seconds. Never make a guest wait to pay the bill, they may be late to get somewhere or simply want to leave. Remember when they pay the bill is when they calculate your tip, donít give them something negative to think about when theyíre doing that. Enough said?
 
Place items on the table, donít slam them down. If you extend your little finger past the bottom of the glass you will feel the table and be able to set the glass down quietly. The same is true for plates; allow the back of your hand to contact the table first and you will be able to put the plate down the same every time, almost silently.
 
If your restaurant serves wine by the bottle please learn what proper wine service means in your restaurant. Iím not going to go into the details, ask your trainer or an experienced server to show you how to do it. If you have difficulty uncorking a bottle of wine ask the bartender, often they uncork a few bottles prior to the busy period and will allow you to practice on those. When I was bartending I used to uncork over two cases and would have welcomed someone to open them for me. You need to know who does what and how their job functions to make the most of the people who assist you in your daily duties. This is one thing I know about bartenders due to being one myself.
 
When you notice free-refill drinks down to a third full replace the glass with a full one. Unless itís near the end of their stay donít even bother asking if they want it, just do it. If itís a drink you can not refill for free, of course ask them before bringing another. Treating alcohol drinks this way is a no-brainer, each one drives your tip higher and more than likely makes the guest a little more likely to tip you a little higher for your efforts. If it seems right Iíll ask the person if I should consider it my job to continue to bring another drink until instructed not to. If they say yes, I do!
 
Children are special care guests. Treat them as such. Ask their parents if they would like you to serve the child first, often this is the case. If so, take the order for the child and get it started immediately. Make every effort to ensure the child is taken care of, this allows the parents to be able to better enjoy their experience and thus increases the likelihood of a better tip for you.
 
Some people like large parties and some people, um, donít. I like large parties itís more sales and all at once. I find I make more if I serve large parties. If we work together, Iíll take every single one you get if you like!
 
Part of the hassle is the order and keeping everything straight. Iím going to let you know how I handle the situation and maybe itíll help you like large parties too. I start by taking a sheet of paper and numbering it down the left hand side with the number of guests. I usually start with one end of the table, the same end I always use which is north. If I think the people may start to move around I put an identifier with the number. Blue shirt, red hair or purple hair, whatever you do just make sure if they happen to see it they are not going to be offended. Now keeping track of everything is oh so simple.
 
If they want separate checks, donít worry, you now have what you need to make it easy. At the top (or bottom) of the sheet simply make notations of who is with who. If itís getting complicated I will circle those I have included in the process already. So at the top of the page youíll have something that looks like this: 1,2 | 3,4,5 | 6,10,11 | 7,8 | 9
So when you go to split up the checks itís easy, even if they start to move around the table itís still simple.
 
Speaking about separate checks, ask before you start to take the order if itís going to be one check or they would like separate checks. Before you start is when itís easy for you to make provisions for separating checks in the system. Iím lazy myself, I remember who had what and simply separate the orders on different guests in the system. This is not a problem if Iím going to walk the food. If someone else may be taking the food to the table youíll need to put each person on a separate guest number. Oh well, itís still easy as pie to separate the checks up if you have made your list as I have already described.

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Donít hate separate checks. I generally make a little more when I separate checks for people. First, I donít hate it and that shows when I offer to split it up for them. I treat it as if it happens all the time, which it does. Secondly I know it makes it easier for them and thatís my goal, to simplify things for the guests in any way possible. I want to enhance their dining experience, not become an obstacle to it. Lastly with more checks thereís more chance for tips to be rounded up and I make a little more than I would have if I had not split up the bill. So it serves both the guest and my desire for higher wages.
 
Once you work with a menu for awhile you will get the feel for things and know which items are often confused with other items. To start with you might want to repeat back every order to the guest. Once you figure it out you can get by with only making sure you have heard correctly and they ordered Rye toast and not Dry (white) toast.
 
Mistakes are more costly than you may imagine. For the house it means they have to remake another item and toss the one which was wrong, there goes the profit for that meal. For you it will hurt your tip, you didnít get the order right and they will remember that. Many people are not understanding about mistakes. they feel itís your job to get it right and lay full blame on you, and rightfully so.
 
While weíre talking about mistakes, make sure the food you take is the right food. If you take the wrong food you affect your tip, another serverís tip, the houseís profit, the workload in the kitchen and potentially every server in the restaurant. You gave the wrong food to your guest, that makes you look bad and may lower your tip. The other server canít serve the meal to the guest until the kitchen re-makes it so they have a guest who is sitting there without food. In addition I find that once one server takes the wrong food, another server is much more likely to take the wrong thing which makes the problem snowball. The kitchen has to work harder to re-make that plate for the other server. Their tip may suffer because of that. The house looses out on the profit for that meal. The kitchen is working harder to fix your mistake and may take longer with other orders due to fixing your mistake. Taking someone elseís food is one of the worst things you can do in a restaurant. Make sure you take the correct food!
 
If you have a buss staff itís up to you to make sure they operate as efficiently as possible. This means pre-bussing your tables, remove anything the guest doesnít need as soon as they are done with it. Remove extra glassware, flatware and any plates not required. When the buss person gets to your table it will be simple and quick to ready it for the next guests. Believe me, the buss staff will notice and remember you make their job easy and thus will be more willing to get to your tables faster.
 
On the other hand, what if the buss staff is very busy or short handed? Simple, clean and reset your own tables. Donít make a big deal out of it, itís helping your workmates. They help you, turn about is fair play. Not only do you help the buss staff but you are helping yourself too. The more tables you serve the more you make, itís a no-brainer. If itís an ongoing problem you might want to request the management to staff more buss people in the future.
 
While weíre on the subject of proper staffing letís talk about your actual position at the restaurant. The service staff members, in my opinion, are independent contractors to the restaurant. The house provides you with a station of tables to serve; the service items needed as well as supporting you with a kitchen staff. Without the kitchen staff you are nothing, without you the kitchen staff is nothing. You work as a team. If you are not getting the support required from the kitchen staff, mention it to the management. I wouldnít attempt to force action from the management; they should be willing to work to help you which will also help the restaurant. If they are unwilling to help you by getting you the assistance you require from the kitchen and you feel itís a make or break situation the solution is simple, if itís not just you and the other wait staff are having the same problems, find another restaurant which values their wait staff. This doesnít mean the server should rein supreme, it means the server should be valued and supported by the other staff members.
 
The kitchen staff is paramount to your success. I have worked as a dishwasher, a prep-cook and a line cook. Itís not easy work and their pay is nothing to write home about. In light of this and the fact you need them to do your job and make the wages you enjoy as a server it would behoove you to treat them with kindness and understanding. At the end of every shift I make it a point to thank each of the staff in the restaurant before I leave for the day. I realize without their support I would make nothing and servers make the lionís share of the money that is earned in a restaurant. I am thankful for those who help me, I am thankful for those who helped me throughout my shift, why not let them know. Youíd be surprised and how much a little appreciation goes!
 
Also remember you should view the entire restaurant as one team. You all have one common goal, guest service. This is a service industry, without serving the guests well the restaurant will fail and youíll be out of a job. To this end, keep an eye on whatís going on in the building. Be quick to offer your help to others and donít be afraid to ask for help yourself. Hopefully your manager will be able to point you in the right direction when an area of the team needs help. Remember this: Hot Food First. First and foremost is getting hot food to the guests. If there isnít a problem with that next I would check to make sure all available tables are clean and ready to be seated. Once that is done, make sure there isnít a back up with seating. While youíre doing the above be aware of servers who may need help and offer your help if required. If you do these simple things everyone benefits. True in many fields is the fact that what is good for the company is good for you. Without the company your services would not be required.

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