Working as a waitress or waiter can be turbulent, regardless of whether you're experienced or new. Take the time to read this article and better reflect on care practices when you are not in a moment of hard work. Customer smiles, employer satisfaction and the tip jar will all expand if you work to improve your service.
Method 1 of 4: Working Efficiently
Step 1. Always look presentable
If you wear a uniform, be sure to keep it in excellent condition – ironed, unspotted and tidy. If there is no uniform, dress well in formal clothes. This makes a great first impression on the customer and will keep your boss happy. Check your appearance periodically to see if you look disheveled or if something has spilled onto your robes.
- Keep your nails clean and trimmed.
- Wear nice shoes, not sneakers. Keep them tied up. Never wear sandals.
- Avoid using perfumes or colognes, as some customers may have allergies to these scents. Similarly, try not to smoke before work or during your break, as this can leave a bad odor behind.
- Wear makeup and jewelry subtly and conservatively.
Step 2. Get to know the menu deeply
Becoming familiar with each item on the menu will save you a lot of time and trouble when taking orders. Study the menu in your spare time, if necessary, to avoid mistakes and slow notes.
- Familiarize yourself with every option on every order. If a customer orders a sandwich, you should know what breads are available, what sizes the snack can be, and how to ask these questions clearly.
- Know which dishes contain meat, dairy products and common allergens – like nuts. Be prepared to suggest similar alternatives for customers who cannot consume these ingredients.
- Familiarize yourself with daily specials before each work shift.
Step 3. Suggest additional purchases
Politely ask the customer if he would like a drink, a side dish or an addition to the order. Management will love you for it and your tips will grow whenever the customer buys more.
- Know which liquors are expensive and of high quality. Suggest using them when the customer orders a mixed drink.
- Always ask if the table would like an appetizer.
- Never be deceptive or aggressive. Present the option to the customer politely, and don't try to push an add-on as if it were free.
Step 4. Multitask
You'll have a much simpler job if you can do up to three tasks in one trip from the kitchen to the tables. Pick up empty plates from tables whenever you are returning to the kitchen. Fill a tray with food/things like that when several tables require condiments, drinks or similar items instead of handing them out one by one.
Unless you're an experienced waitress who can confidently memorize every task, write your orders right away and make additional notes if you need to remember to do something in five or ten minutes
Step 5. Manage your time well
Pay attention to the last time you checked each table and familiarize yourself with the estimated time to prepare each dish. Plan to visit each table after meals are complete. Move quickly without running and try to maintain a steady pace to make everything go smoothly in the environment.
Pass on your knowledge of customer wait times. If someone orders a well-done steak, let them know that it will take longer to arrive. If a soup has recently run out and the cook needs to make a new one, let the customer know how long it will take the professional to prepare the meal and suggest an alternative
Step 6. Check the food before taking it to the customer
Especially when there are special orders involved, you can save yourself a lot of a headache by making sure the order is right before you bring it to the table.
If an order was placed the wrong way, let the kitchen and customers know. Please apologize for the additional delay and, if allowed in your restaurant, try to provide a meal at a discounted price or something extra to compensate for the problem
Step 7. Anticipate common orders
Most customers want ketchup with their hamburger. Children often drop cutlery. Once you know which orders are popular with certain meals and customers, fulfill those requests in advance. This saves you and your customers time and makes them feel cozy.
Extra silverware, condiment packets and napkins can be tucked into your skirt pocket, if you have one
Step 8. Don't let a bad tip ruin your work
Never complain to a table about bad tips, regardless of the quality of your service. You could get fired and be seen as a complainer, and that will create bad relationships with the team.
Some people never tip, regardless of the service. Others may not be able to afford one, or they may be tourists from a place where tipping is not common
Step 9. Never sit and do nothing
If you don't have customers to serve, clean up! There is always extra work to be done in the restaurant. Show your employer that you can take the initiative and work hard.
If your current tables don't require attention, look for other customers. Some of them may be waiting for a waitress to make a small order that can be fulfilled without harming their professional colleagues
Method 2 of 4: Dealing with Specific Situations
Step 1. Focus on parents when children are making a wish
A child may try to order an unhealthy meal, a caffeinated beverage, or another item that parents may disapprove of. Give parents a chance to deny such a request before repeating it.
- If parents aren't paying attention, repeat the request clearly and out loud, covering the entire table. This gives them another chance to notice the request.
- In front of young children, after a parent has denied the request, you can cut off the discussion by saying “Sorry, but we're out of soda. Do you want something else?”.
- If you don't personally approve of someone's choice, don't say anything. This is decided by the parents, unless the request clearly violates the law. No serving alcoholic drinks to children, for example.
Step 2. Do not place dangerous objects near children
If you are serving hot dishes, distributing metal utensils, or giving other potentially dangerous items to customers, do so close to the parents and address them with "Here are the (dishes/orders/cutlery), sir/madam" if you need to draw attention.
Step 3. Make the experience as agile as possible for parents with babies
Babies and young children typically have short attention spans. If the meal takes time to arrive, the entire restaurant – including the parents – could suffer. Check the table with parents of babies more often. Multitask to streamline the process.
- Ask if you can listen to food and drink orders at the same time instead of having to make two visits.
- Suggest an alternative that can be prepared more quickly if the customer asks for a meal that may take a while to be made.
- This is a rare situation where you must bring the bill when you approach the table to clear the dishes. You should still ask if customers have finished eating first.
- Don't make customers feel like people whose presence is unwanted. Many tired or busy parents will love your responsive service. However, if they are being disturbed, step back and allow them to continue the meal at their own pace.
Step 4. Stay neutral in discussions about who will pay
If multiple customers at a table demand the bill, try placing it in the middle of the table instead of handing it over. Just smile and say you'll be back soon to take payment if the customer tries to involve you in the discussion.
Step 5. Understand how to serve tea and coffee
People take tea and coffee very seriously, and it's helpful to know how to serve such drinks in a way that makes the customer happy. Disregard this advice when serving regular customers whose orders are already well known.
- Tea drinkers usually consider the details behind making the drink. Always make sure you know what variety of tea the customer has ordered, and provide milk, lemon slices, and sugar as side dishes. Thus, the customer can customize the drink.
- Don't fill a cup with tea or coffee without first asking the customer if they want more of the drink. You may end up altering the customer's carefully prepared drink.
- Do not spoon into tea or coffee before taking the drink to the customer. This lowers the temperature of the drink, something little appreciated by some customers.
Step 6. Ask customers if they want water when they order caffeine or alcohol
This is more relevant to customers eating meals than to those at the bar. Many people like to drink water to counteract dehydration or mood swings caused by such substances.
You may not be able to follow this rule in certain locations, where serving water is less common or where water is charged
Step 7. Never place an object that has fallen on the floor back on the table
Even if it's just a serial or a salt shaker – replace the object with a new one from the kitchen. Customers will not want to have “germs from the floor” on the table.
Step 8. Practice specific tasks in your spare time
This commonly involves opening a bottle of wine. Many tasks that you find difficult can easily be done when you have to serve yourself dinner. You won't have to spend a lot of extra time to learn.
Most waitresses who must open wines have to do so in front of customers who have ordered the bottle. Practice this task to do it naturally and smoothly
Step 9. Choose appropriate songs and vary the selection
If you have control over the music selection, keep it at a low volume and choose something appropriate for the environment. Never play an entire album – mix the songs so that a customer who doesn't like the artist has a chance to hear something different.
- Customers in the cafeteria, or eating in the morning and early afternoon, usually enjoy relaxing music. Classical music is a good choice.
- Guests eating into the night may enjoy energetic music, but this varies according to the atmosphere of the establishment. Most still prefer an ambient volume to chat with friends. In any case, waitresses rarely make music decisions at the busiest or most formal parts of the day.
Method 3 of 4: Interacting with Customers for Better Tips
Step 1. Introduce yourself appropriately
Make eye contact with customers after they are seated and introduce yourself promptly. This starts the conversation off on the right foot, leading to better tips, on average. Customers will pay attention to you in the right way later.
Multitask when introducing yourself as you hand out menus and check each customer's silverware and napkins
Step 2. Stay polite, friendly and helpful, even with angry customers
When talking to clients, always use respectful terms such as "sir", "madame" and "miss". Act friendly and positive, and make customers feel comfortable.
- Ask the customer if they have eaten at the restaurant before – so if the person is new to the area, you can welcome and offer help with the menu.
- Appear friendly, but don't get involved in the customer's conversation if he doesn't ask for it. Do your job, then let the customer eat or talk to them in relative privacy.
- Always remember to smile. Regardless of whether customers or colleagues are boring or not, swallow their annoyance and express pleasure on their face – this will save you a lot of drama!
- Don't talk or gossip about customers, even when they can't hear you. Remain polite and respectful when discussing them if they are around.
Step 3. Respect the customer's personal space
Never sit at the table to take an order. Don't shake hands or hug the customer if you're not his friend. By the way, only shake hands with the customer if the owner of the restaurant asks you to do so. Other physical interactions depend on the atmosphere of where you work, and whether you are a woman or a man.
Studies show that women who lightly touch a customer's shoulder, hand, or arm receive better tips from customers. This should only be done when the client feels relaxed and comfortable. Such action should never be performed if the client is on a date with a woman. Be friendly without flirting
Step 4. Advise the customer regarding the order
If a customer asks for advice, be prepared to answer any questions they have or to recommend their favorite dish in each category. If a customer orders a dish that always gets a lot of complaints, try recommending another option.
Customers like it when you do “internal analysis,” but don't go so far as to insult a plate unless your work environment allows it. Instead, keep the customer away from the bad dish by recommending a similarly better option like "the chef's specialty" or "the favorite on the list."
Step 5. Accommodate any reasonable requests your customers place
Many people have serious reasons to avoid certain ingredients, including potentially fatal allergies. If you're not familiar with every dish on the menu (and you should be), do your best to find out how they're prepared.
- Never lie to a customer by giving them an ingredient that has been requested to be withdrawn. If you can't fill the order, simply say so and suggest a similar alternative that can be consumed by the customer.
- Don't question your customers. Keep in mind that there are many reasons to change aspects of the menu – the customer may be religious, vegetarian/vegan or have dietary restrictions. If the request can be fulfilled, don't ask the reason behind the change!
Step 6. Repeat the order to customers
Studies show that waiters who repeat orders to customers receive more tips. Regardless of the size of this effect, it also gives the client a chance to correct any mistakes, or it may change their mind.
Step 7. Check customers regularly and update them
If you get a job as a waiter or waitress, it may take a little time for your awareness of table checking time to develop. At the very least, check them whenever they're finishing a meal or if customers seem bored or irritated while waiting for food.
- Give them an estimate of when the meal will arrive, whenever possible.
- Stop to fill customers' glasses whenever they are empty, or to ask if they want to buy a drink.
Step 8. Remove used dishes promptly, but not without first talking to the customer
Always ask if the customer has finished eating before removing plates of food. If there is a lot of food left, ask if the customer liked the food.
Many restaurants allow their servers to give disgruntled customers something extra to make up for bad experiences. This could save your tip
Step 9. Befriend regular customers
Be friendly to people you wouldn't normally talk to. When someone sits in your environment longer than usual, take time to get to know them better. You don't have to become her friend, but you'll probably end up liking some guys.
- Remember the names of people and their favorite drinks, where they work, etc. Make the person feel like they are visiting a special person when they visit the restaurant: you!
- Try writing down the appearance and preferences of frequent customers. The customer will be impressed when, on the third visit, they notice that you know their preferences.
Step 10. Don't assume the customer wants the bill, but don't keep them waiting either
Ask if the customer needs anything else and this will give them the opportunity to order dessert, or bag/pack or check.
- If the customer says they don't need anything else, ask if they're ready for the bill.
- If the customer comes to you to ask for the check, it means he is in a hurry.This could also indicate that you waited too long before re-checking the table.
- Never ask the customer if he needs change. Say "Come back soon with your change", returning shortly thereafter and leaving the full amount on the table.
Method 4 of 4: Learning in a New Job
Step 1. Learn the menu in advance
When you interview someone, be proactive and at least ask. Study it on your own to familiarize yourself with the food available. Restaurant chains have great training programs that will teach you details about the menu and cuisine. Smaller bars and places expect you to learn on your own.
Step 2. Show up for work early
Punctuality is important in any job, especially those you are new to. Restaurants are particularly busy at peak hours; however, you'll make a great impression if you're ready to work at the hustle and bustle or even before.
Step 3. Listen to experienced employees carefully
Even if you have worked as an employee before, you need to pay attention to the details of your new job. Each restaurant does things slightly differently, and paying attention during training will allow you to act more smoothly. It's never harmful to be respectful of your boss and colleagues, of course. Never use phrases like “I already know this” to drive them away.
Step 4. Keep your pace
If you've never worked in a busy restaurant before, you might be surprised at how exhausting and busy this service is. Do your best to keep pace with colleagues. Once you get used to the job, you'll be able to act more quickly. In the beginning, you will need to make an effort.
Step 5. Do unpleasant tasks without complaining
You'll start at the bottom of the food chain, but you won't make it to the top if you keep complaining. Cleaning tables and working unpleasant overtime may be necessary. Remember that you will have more choices as you settle down better.
Step 6. Accept criticism with relative ease
Some tables can be sources of stress, as certain colleagues will blame you if they think you contributed to a particular customer's bad experience (who, in turn, provided a bad tip). Know that you will receive less criticism once you learn to work, and try to smile, not allowing the criticism to get to your core.
This is definitely not true of all restaurants. Don't be scared to apply for a position as a waitress before experiencing the atmosphere of the establishment
Step 7. Volunteer extra shifts
Especially at the beginning, you want management and colleagues to know you as trustworthy. As soon as you can work an extra shift, volunteer to cover that portion of the day and stand out.
Step 8. Ask questions when you don't know how to do something
Show interest in learning certain skills or practices. Always ask how to do something if you are afraid of making a mistake. People know you're new. You should be able to find at least one guy who appreciates your dedication.
That doesn't mean you should question your job. "What time do I go out?" or "Do I need to do this?" are common phrases that will irritate colleagues and employer
- Treat the appetizers right from the start. Then bring the drinks and entrees. Appetizers will be hot and should leave the table minutes after drinks arrive.
- Let drama, bad humor and personal issues stay at home.
- Never count your tip in front of the customer.
- Don't go into one customer's personal space to serve another. If the environment is informal and there is no alternative, at least say “I'm sorry for the invasion”.
- Never complain about tips in front of other professionals.