What Skills Are Needs to be a Good Server?
Have you ever considered working at a restaurant as a waiter/waitress? Many people choose this line of work as a side gig or as a full-time career because it offers various advantages, such as flexibility, uncapped income, and growth opportunities.
However, if you don't have specific hard and soft skills, going to work every day can feel like a chore. So, before you dive headfirst into a career as a restaurant employee, make sure you sharpen these seven waitress skills.
How To Be a Good Waiter
Being a good waiter is not just about serving food; it's about providing an experience. Here are some tips to help you ensure customers enjoy their visit and return in the future:
Know the Menu
Servers should know the menu to help customers make knowledgeable meal decisions and to upsell. Familiarize yourself with the menu, including ingredients, preparation methods, and potential allergens. Understand the restaurant's specials, wine list, and any promotions. The more knowledgeable you are, the more confident and helpful you'll be.
Efficiently turning tables is vital for a restaurant's profitability, yet it's crucial to strike a balance between quick service and not making guests feel rushed. Learn to manage multiple tasks at once without getting overwhelmed. Efficiently moving between tables, the kitchen, and the register is crucial.
Repeat the Order
To guarantee correct orders, it's essential to repeat them back to customers. Research has shown that servers who do this often receive tips nearly twice as large as those who don't. If you're not sure about an order, don't guess. Instead, double-check with the customer.
Have a Friendly Demeanor
Having a proactive and positive mindset is crucial for gaining the trust and support of both customers and colleagues. Always greet customers with a smile and maintain a positive attitude. Make small talk when appropriate.
Handle Complaints Professionally
If a customer has an issue, listen without interruption, apologize if necessary, and find a solution. Escalate the issue to a manager when appropriate. A skilled server remains calm in front of patrons, manages challenging situations, and utilizes feedback for improvement.
Upselling involves a sales technique where servers suggest more expensive menu items, drawing from conversations with guests about their tastes and preferences. This is a skill that can boost the restaurant’s profits. However, be sure to do it subtly, suggesting additional items that would genuinely enhance the customer's experience.
The entire restaurant team, from hosts to chefs to dishwashers, plays a role in the dining experience. Collaborate well with coworkers and communicate any relevant information about tables or customers.
Top 7 Qualities of a Good Waiter
So, now that we’ve gone over some helpful waitress skills that make a good waiter, what are the top qualities of a good waiter? Here are seven qualities you must possess to succeed as a waiter:
1. Active Listening
The most substantial part of a server's job is taking food and drink orders—which means you must have excellent active listening skills. For example, your restaurant might have a simple menu. However, if your customers ask for customizations, it can quickly make an order complex.
Even if you write down the initial food order, as the meal progresses, customers will have additional requests. For instance, they will ask you for beverage refills, new drinks altogether, and extra dressings and sauces. You won't write each one of these things down, so it's crucial that you actively listen so you can cater to your customers' needs.
As mentioned earlier, make sure to repeat your customer’s order back to them. Not only will this show you were actively listening, but it also ensures that you wrote or remembered the order correctly.
2. Sharp Memory
Similar to the last section, when a customer asks you for something, you need to remember the request and who made it. Now, a single request may seem easy enough to remember.
However, you will almost always have multiple tables in your section or one or two large parties. And every person might have a specific request. Whether it's drink refills or correcting a wrong order, having a sharp memory will ensure you keep your guests happy—and maximize your tips.
Nobody wants to feel ignored, especially customers paying for your time. Understandably, you'll have busy shifts where you're unable to give each customer 100% of your attention.
Still, good waitress skills involve mastering balancing their time and attentiveness. Timely refills, frequent check-ins, and paying attention to social signals will ensure your tables feel their patronage is valued.
If there's one certainty in the restaurant industry, it's that you'll never have a predictable shift. To combat the different things you'll come across every day, you will need to be flexible.
Whether you have a loud table, an unexpectedly busy night, or are asked to run food, flexibility ensures changes don't ruin your shift. Of course, being flexible isn't something that you're born with, so if you're up for the challenge, working as a server will help you grow in that area.
5. Positive Attitude
We've all witnessed a table or customer being rude to their server. Unfortunately, working as a server means that customers will take out their frustrations on you. The best way to respond to rudeness is with a positive attitude.
Not only will a positive attitude calm the customer down, but it will also give you the chance to quickly resolve the problem without letting your emotions get the best of you. In addition to helping you address customer service issues, having a positive attitude will keep you going strong even through the toughest shifts.
6. Ability To Hustle
Working in a restaurant will always be fast-paced, so a waiter needs to be able to hustle. Customers want fast service. And there's usually a lot of ground to cover between the back and front of the house. So not only will customers expect you to move promptly and efficiently, but so will management. And if you're not meeting expectations, your tips and job status can suffer.
A server's job is full of multi-tasking. Waiting tables involve balancing the needs of multiple customers at various points of their dining experience. Fulfilling the needs of many people at once will require you to prioritize and address a wide range of situations.
For example, you may need to welcome a new table, check out a current table, bring a tray of food to another, and bring refills to a fourth. Your customers will expect you to do all of this within a matter of minutes, so multi-tasking is the only way to get the job done.
Next Steps as a Food Handler
Ready to begin your journey as a server? Start with Learn2Serve’s food handler training! While being a server certainly isn't easy, it's a well-paying career that provides immense flexibility and appeals to a broad group of people. If you have most of the waitress skills or qualities of a good waiter listed above, being a server could be the perfect job for you.
But before you start applying for jobs, increase your chances of getting hired by completing our online food handler training course. And if you plan to work at a bar or serve alcohol, take our alcohol seller-server training. Start your training today!
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