Have you ever considered working at a restaurant as a waiter/waitress? Becoming a server is great because it offers numerous 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 turn into a chore. So, before you dive in headfirst into a career as a restaurant server, make sure you sharpen these seven skills.
Skill #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. Obviously, 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.
Skill #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, in reality, 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.
Skill #3: Attentiveness
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, a good waiter or waitress needs to master 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.
Skill #4: Flexibility
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.
Skill #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.
Skill #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 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.
Skill #7: Multi-Tasking
A server’s job is full of multi-tasking. Waiting tables involves 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.
Start Your Job as a Server with 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 skills we listed, 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!