Serving customers in a restaurant is a challenging job. One must deal with difficult customers and situations with prudence, cater to never-ending custom modifier requests, have a razor-sharp eye for detail, deep knowledge of fast-changing daily menus, ability to retain enthusiasm throughout the shift and acute mind-reading skills as well.
Since the job of a server involves wearing multiple hats, it is quite normal to feel like you are running a one-man show while attending to diners. This blog details the tried and tested tips from industry experts to help achieve success in what might seem to be a thankless job.
Servers need to work in a fast-paced environment throughout the day interacting with many different people when they are on duty. Only when they learn how to be an effective server, can they help customers enjoy their dining and have a memorable experience.
So, what are the secrets and insider tips and tricks to become a server who stands out from the crowd. Whether you are a restaurant owner looking for some good read to take your server skills to the next level or working as a server and in need of tips and tricks to improve yourself, this blog is the perfect piece for your know-how.
The First Thing You Must Remember As A Waiter
Learning the right way to be a good server, executing every task on hand meticulously, takes several years of practice. But, to make money, you need not have years of experience.
What Does A Restaurant Server Do: Server Responsibilities
A restaurant server’s responsibilities vary based on the restaurant type. But most servers will be expected to take customer orders and execute it by serving food or drinks. Their main priority is accuracy in fulfilling orders and creating a good customer experience. A server must always be ready to spring into action and build cordial, long-lasting relationships with guests.
A formal education is not mandatory for a restaurant server. However, to be a good server, one needs on-the-job training. Servers who wish to improve their skills can attend restaurant operations classes.
Following are the responsibilities of servers:
- Stay aware of the menu thoroughly. Know every minute change that has been introduced in the menu. This would help diners make their meal choices well. Upselling is also facilitated through this.
- Servers should be meticulous organizers with precise focus and concentration. They must look appealing, keep constant track of tables and remember orders without any iota of doubt.
- Servers must keep the kitchen and bar informed of customer’s specific instructions, dietary needs, preferences and allergy notes.
- They must greet customers and take earnest efforts to build a positive customer experience – from the time the guests enter the restaurant till they make their payment.
- Servers must take complete care of front-of-house tasks that include arranging tables, setting them, removing used dinnerware after the guest leaves, replenishing utensils and refilling glasses for the new guests who walk in.
- Servers must clean tables and other dining areas ensuring there are no spills.
- They must process sales, generate the bill and hand it over to the guest without unnecessary delay.
- A server must be genuine in determining total charges. Issuing the check, taking payment, returning the change and bill along with the credit card or signature slip.
- Servers must also be aware of the restaurant’s sanitation, safety measures and alcohol policies to face any surprise health inspection. Servers must make sure that rules and regulations are adhered to.
- Servers must maintain communication with chefs and keep them updated about meal progression which is essential for efficient running of the restaurant operations.
Qualities Of A Good Server
Insiders say that a good server must possess the following three characteristics:
Good restaurant waiters always know how to feel the pulse of the customers and handle the needs and issues of customers. One needs to have the personality to adapt to the diverse needs of the customers and be bold to approach the table. A good server must be able to pick up on what customers expect and deliver it in a style that leaves a lasting impression.
2) Positive, Can-Do Attitude
A good server must be liked both by his patrons and colleagues in the restaurant. Restaurant owners must hire servers who are ready to take feedback. They must know how to maintain composure in the presence of customers, solve the issue and utilize that feedback for betterment.
3) Know The Menu
Few restaurants provide a robust training program to young ang eager front of house staff so that they make a good impression on the older customers who have been patrons for several years. After the initial training that focuses on mechanical steps of service, they must be taught to use the POS system. Later, the training must focus on projecting their cuisine knowledge and exuding warmth and confidence with guests. Customers expect a server to be a talented, know-it-all person. Although one cannot know everything about everything, it is still important for the server to stay updated and knowledgeable about what's happening in the restaurant.
Server Training Tips For Restaurant Owners
1) Train Servers To Engage With Customers In A Meaningful Manner
Good service is not only about attending to customers. It also includes keeping water glasses full, clearing empty plates and resetting the table before the arrival of the next guest. Good servers understand the customer’s needs and create a personal bond. Servers should know how to describe two or three popular items on the menu in detail and recommend items based on the customer’s preferences. Suggestive selling encourages customers to order more, thus increasing the profit line.
2. Servers Should Speak Intelligently About Every Dish
Servers should always be familiar with actual dishes. This increases the possibilities of making more sales. When servers personally try multiple dishes on the menu, they will know the right kind of drinks that need to be paired with the entrees. Do not advise servers to sell the items bringing the highest margin alone. Make them sell items that would encourage customers to revisit.
3. Train Not Just The Servers But The Entire Team
Servers alone cannot be given the task of selling. Every staff member (even if they do not directly interact with customers) should be made to feel equally responsible for creating a memorable dining experience. Staff should be trained to say, “Enjoy your dinner!”, “Enjoy your meal!” and so on.
4. Empower Servers To Build Loyalty And Increase Revenue
Servers may not be the traditional salespeople. But, when trained appropriately, they can increase revenue, build loyalty for the brand and strengthen it. Servers represent the restaurant much more than others. Customers always have choices regarding their spot for dining. A terrible service can ruin the advantage of your great location, good food and ambiance. Good or great customer service is five times more likely to get a 5-star rating from customers than the other factors in play.
When non-serving staff create opportunities for selling by pointing out specific food and drinks, the server can follow it up with more suggestions, thus increasing the check and tip size.
5. Measure Server Success
The restaurant might have its own favorite servers. But measurement is important to know which server is actually keeping customers happy and generating lots of sales. Also identify how they are doing it. You will need data for this. Make use of tools to find the great servers of your restaurant and throw light on the sections of the menu they are able to sell well. Use data to find out if the top performers are turning tables faster or slower than the team average, what are the pairings mostly suggested by servers to drive up the average ticket, are they serving the VIP and regular customers consistently and so on.
6. Hear Them Out
Always take time to listen to the servers. Having knowledge of how to train servers alone is not sufficient. Their observations are extremely valuable for the development of the restaurant. They are the people who know exactly the entrees that customers order the most and the items that seldom get ordered. Compiling these observations into actionable insights is cumbersome without a restaurant POS and management system. Use this mechanism to track server performance, menu profitability, sales reporting and other metrics.