Stocking is an ongoing process for most
items. If you are having to run and re-stock items you are wasting time you
should be spending serving your guests. Before busy periods you should be
checking to make sure you are going to have the stock you require for the
shift. Whatever it may be, get it. I donít care if itís your job or another
serverís job, in the end itís going to effect you so make sure the stock is
going to be available when you need it. Another area is tableware, plates,
glasses etc. Some restaurants have staff to bring these out of the kitchen
and some do not. If your restaurant does not, when you leave the kitchen you
should have something in your hands to be carried out and stocked. Often you
take dishes back to the dish room instead of a buss cart. If this is the
case there are usually dishes left in the service area. Not only does this
look bad for guests walking by but itís more than likely against your local
health code. If you see this, take them to the back even if they are not
your dishes in the first place. I assure you the management is aware of
whoís leaving them and will speak to them (usually again) eventually. The
management doesnít want the dishes there any more than you do and the last
thing they want is one more hassle. Do them and yourself a favor and
politely put them where theyíre supposed to go.
Before a guest leaves my station and as
they are departing, if I happen to catch them, I will thank them for
visiting the restaurant. In addition I will let them know I hope they
enjoyed their stay and tell them I hope to see them again soon. I have my
job due to the fact they, and their friends and relatives, decide to dine in
this restaurant. I want them to know I realize this and appreciate their
patronage. In the same conversation I will usually hear what they liked
about the visit as well as any problems they perceived. I let them know I
will pass their thoughts/concerns onto the management and thank them for
letting us know. Without these details we donít know what weíre doing right
and what we need work on. Of course I do make sure to pass information on to
the manager even if I think itís absurd. Who am I to determine what is valid
and what is not? That is my coachís job to decipher, the one who sees the
big picture of the restaurant.
When you are taking orders if you repeat it back to the guest they will have
more confidence in your ability to bring them what they ordered. In addition
to this I have heard it may even increase your tips. It will also reduce the
number of mistakes you make. The customer may order one thing and be
thinking about something else entirely. Once in a while itís only when they
hear you say it do they realize they have ordered the wrong meal. Anytime
anyone says, ďIíll have the same thing as so-and-soĒ Repeat it back to them.
My ďlineĒ is, ďJust to make sure, you want the chicken breast, a baked
potato with butter and sour cream right? Often when someone says they want
the same thing the only similarity I find is that you both want food.Ē It
creates a light hearted moment and explains why Iím forcing them to hear the
Do what you say you will do. If you
say, ďIíll be right backĒ, be sure you are. If you are going to get more
sauce make sure you go straight back to the table with the sauce. Be as good
as your word, itís as simple as that. No one likes to be told one thing only
to have you do another.
Never stand around and chat with co-workers in view of the public. I donít
care if they are your customers or not. Those customers may need something
and if youíre not doing anything constructive may feel as though you are
slighting them by not seeing to their needs. They donít think about you not
being their server. All they know is you are A server and should be helping
them instead of doing nothing.
Never complain to a guest about anything for any reason. The guest has
enough problems in their own life. They came in wanting a meal not to play
psychoanalyst for you. In all reality most donít truly care what your issues
are, they just want you to serve them.
If you have an irritated guest it would serve you well to remember this: you
donít know what happened to them that day. For all you know they woke up to
a note on their wifeís pillow saying she had left them for another man. As
they got out of bed they put their feet on the cold remains of the family
pet. After they tried without success to start their car and had it towed to
the service facility they took a cab to work only to be called into their
supervisorís office and were told they were no longer needed, this was their
two minute notice to vacate their desk. The carís repairs were more than the
car was worth and their refrigerator stopped working which made them come
into your restaurant for their dinner. I know itís far fetched, but how do
you know it didnít happen. A little understanding goes a long way in the
service industry. Concentrate on, talk about and remember the wonderful
guests you have and youíll be a lot happier with your job. Most guests are
reasonable, polite and genuinely great humans. Let them be your memories of
the day. Donít let the grumpy people ruin your day. Happiness is a choice,
make the right one.
It may be over kill and seem like too much bother Ė until you need it, but,
keep a spare shirt and tie in your car. A spare pair of pants isnít a bad
idea either actually. Nothing ruins a shift like a stained shirt or tie.
Trust me, accidents can and do happen, even to the best of us. Be prepared
for the unexpected and that rare instance will make you so happy you did.
Never attempt to hide a mistake from anyone, always be willing to fess up to
your shortcomings. I assure you your manager will not like it and your
guests wonít understand. People arenít as dense and you may think they are
and will know itís your fault anyway. People donít like to be lied to. At
the same time they often appreciate frank honesty. Just admit to what
happened. The worst that can happen if youíre honest is not as bad as what
happens when youíre caught being dishonest.
There is a guest you know who is always rude and never tips well. Should you
give them the same service you give every guest? Yes you should always give
good service. Even though you know they donít tip as they should and are
rude, they still have a voice with their friends and relatives. For them to
say something negative about the restaurant is still something negative
about the restaurant. Even though their close friends may not give their
words much credence, those who hear may not know enough not to and think
your restaurant to be below par when it comes to food or service.
Remember, you rarely truly know who you
are talking to. For example, is the lady dining alone doing so because she
canít get a date or is it because her husband passed away recently? Is the
group of ďobviousĒ convention attendees really un-related to your business
or is there something going on in the company and they are in fact upper
management of your own restaurant chain. Is the man with the beaver on his
head just someone who doesnít know any better or is it your managerís
father-in- law who does informal reports of how heís treated and sees you
motioning to him and laughing with your co-workers. You never know who has
money, you never know who tips well and who doesnít. Here in the southwest
itís assumed by many that some never tip well. I have had members of that
group tip an almost embarrassingly large amount. You just never know and you
canít tell by looking, you canít tell by listening. You only know when the
tip is waiting. I always attempt to give service which almost demands a
30-40 percent gratuity, just in case the people are the type who will leave
Never date co-workers. I almost didnít include this as itís personal advice,
then, just when I thought everyone knew this little tid-bit two of my
workmates broke up. One ended up quitting and the other was so embarrassed
they wanted to. Itís flirting with disaster to date at work. Even when you
are getting along you run the risk of spending too much time chatting and
making management mad. On the other hand I knew a married couple who worked
together without a problem. Itís all a matter of how you treat the working
relationship. You need to separate the two completely. If you have any
reservations about your ability to do so, stay clear of working
relationships. There, Iíve put in my two centsí worth.
Always allow guest the right of way.
You are there to serve their needs, not the other way around. I go so far as
to step as far as is comfortable out of their way to allow their passage. In
addition always be aware of your surroundings. Look behind you before you
turn around and start walking. Be sure there is no one behind you. One of
the worst things you can do is ram a guest with a tray of dirty dishes or
drinks! If a guest sees you with a full tray and motions for you to pass, go
ahead and do so while thanking them for being so kind. The key here is do as
the guest wishes when they make their wants known to you. Once again, you
are there to serve them not the contrary.
Iíd like to say a few words about ďweĒ and its new found usage in the
industry. I donít like the server using ďweĒ when addressing my table. I am
a guest and they are an employee of the restaurant. They are not a member of
my group and I dislike them using ďweĒ to include themselves in it. ďHow are
we doing this eveningĒ, is rude in my opinion. After all I canít comment on
how they are doing in the first place. I can only inform them of how I, and
possibly my dining guests, am doing. I actually had a manager of the
In-front (fake name to protect the guilty) say the following: ďIs there
anything we can do to make us enjoy our meal more this evening? We would be
happy to do anything we can think of for us.Ē I mean really. Thatís just
crazy in my opinion. Address guests as guests and not as long lost friends.
How are you doing tonight? Is there anything I can do for you?
Serving trays are tough to manage at times. What do you do with them when
you are not using them? Are they considered clean surfaces or not? Should
you put dirty plates on them? The answer is not easy. They are both and yet
should always be treated as if they are clean. I mean to say that you
shouldnít ever put a clean tray somewhere you wouldnít put a meal. The floor
is no place for a tray, clean or dirty. The guests donít know you plan to
clean it before you use it for food service again. All they know is the
thing is on the floor. Of course each time you put something dirty on your
tray you should clean it prior to putting anything clean on it.
Make the guest feel welcome, as if they are a member of your family at your
house. Donít ask them if they want another drink, simply get it for them.
Make sure they know you appreciate them. Do whatever it takes to wow them
and youíll have happy guests (who of course tip better).
Donít waste downtime! Anything you can do ahead of time will make the rush
easier. If you have a few minutes make sure the restaurant is ready for the
next rush. Talking to workmates about what happened last night should be
done on your time, not the restaurantís time. You depend on things being
ready when you need them. Itís up to you to make sure they will be. Make
things easier on yourself and your team mates by stocking.
With a ďstandardĒ pilsner glass you can pour a bottle of beer without
lifting the glass. Pour to the opposite side of the glass and youíll have
great luck. This also impresses guests, they think youíre going to wind up
with a glass of foam.
Go the extra mile! If a guest asks for change for the newspaper machine
outside, donít just bring them change. GO GET THE PAPER FOR THEM!
Special orders often make guests feel as though they are being troublesome.
If you feel they are right, SWITCH JOBS. Special orders are never a problem!
The guest is paying for their meal and should get it as they want it. Show
them your willingness to make adjustments to their meal and youíll win them
over with your kindness. The bottom line is; they are going to get what they
want anyway. You can either make points by doing it without a hassle or cost
yourself money by making it seem like itís a bother. How much you make is,
as always, up to you.
Be a problem solver. If youíre not a part of the solution, you are a part of
the problem. If other servers donít restock or do ďwhateverĒ, rise above and
take it upon yourself to get it done. You are going to make it easier on
yourself in the long run and Iím positive management notices who does what
and who doesnít do what. You will prosper by doing the right thing. Those
who want to do as little as possible will not make the money you make.
Remember that! Making the restaurant ready for the rush will make YOU more
money. The lazy servers wonít last long anyway and they arenít going to make
much money. Just hope they donít give the guests service which makes them
not return. If you have to help the lazy ones so you can assure the guestís
return. Heck, they may even ask for you on their next visit!
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