So, you’re getting ready for your first day of training at a new restaurant, huh? Whether you’ve been working as a server for years or just starting out, there are a couple of things that you should always take into consideration before starting your first day of training.
If you need tips on HOW to train a waiter or waitress, read more in our article “8 Tips on How to Train a New Waiter/Waitress”.
If you’re a new server, don’t forget, be prepared to work…and to work hard! Training is all about seeing what you’re made of and testing your limits. Serving tables is in a league all on its own!
Here are 9 tips that might just help you land the job.
TIP #1 Be on time.
Better yet, show up early. Yes, I know it’s incredibly obvious and trust me, it feels completely ridiculous saying it, but I cannot stress this enough. Punctuality is essential when starting a new job. It’s one of the first impressions your employers and coworkers will get of you. Show up late and they’ll all think that a) you’re disrespectful and b) don’t really care about the job. If anything happens and you can’t make it on time or can’t show up at all then pick up the phone and call them.
TIP#2 Listen to your trainer.
Even if you’ve seen it all and you are highly qualified for the position, listen to what your trainer has to say. Different restaurants work with different systems and you really need to pay attention to the differences between this job and your previous ones. The whole “Yeah, yeah. I know.” attitude should be left at the door. Let your trainer explain things first and then ask questions later.
TIP #3 Pick up the pace.
When starting at a new restaurant, some servers have a hard time picking up the rhythm of the restaurant and the speed of the service. When changing to a busier restaurant, it’s time to get your ass into gear and pick up the pace. Walking around the restaurant like you’re taking a nice stroll in the park is not going to work. Keep in mind – your trainer will push you, and rightfully so. Keep up with their pace and don’t waste time. If you find your trainer moving quicker than you then you’re the one who needs to adjust your rhythm.
TIP #4 Be ready for grunt work.
You’re new, right? So you’ll have to a do a lot of the crappy jobs that people hate doing like preparing linens, silverware and glassware, filling condiments, restocking napkins, etc. Your trainer will make you clean their section, run their plates, and do any other cleaning duties or tasks they may have in store. You’ll have to really prove yourself, so don’t ever slack off or sneak off in back for a cigarette. Get rid of that cellphone and concentrate on working and working hard. Don’t even think about complaining. Your trainer and employers may be testing your limits to see how much you want the job and how much you can take. Also, you may get all the crummy shifts and hours that nobody wants. Be ready to take whatever shifts/sections/tables they give you.
TIP#5 Remember: Staff members will be hard on you.
Because you’re working in an industry where your coworkers rely on tips as their income, other waiters and waitresses will be hard on you if you make mistakes at their tables or if you’re in their way. It’s very possible that you’ll get snide comments or brushed off so be prepared for that. If you’re doing something wrong, chances are someone is going to tell you. Whether you’re garnishing a beverage with a lime instead of a lemon or bringing plates to the wrong table, someone will voice their disapproval and it may not be in the nicest way possible. Be ready to have a thick hide and learn from your mistakes.
TIP#6 Avoid asking questions that make you look bad.
I don’t mean don’t ask questions. You should be asking a lot of questions to show a genuine interest in learning the job and the correct way of doing things. What I mean is you should avoid asking questions that make it seem like you don’t care about the job or don’t even want to be there. Questions like:
- “What time do I finish?” This is my most hated question. You’ve barely been working 5 minutes and you’re already thinking about when you’re leaving. If you need to know for important reasons, that’s different, but find a way to make it seem like you don’t want to get out of there as soon as possible.
- “Do I really have to do that?” Your trainer is telling you that you need to do something. Just do it! They wouldn’t be telling you “You have to clean the chair legs before every shift” if you didn’t need to be done.
- “Can I eat something?” Um, you’re at work. You’re supposed to be working, not eating. Eat before or after your shift, not in the middle of training.
- “What kind of discount does the staff get?” This one isn’t as bad, but don’t ask it in the middle of training. You have more important things to learn other than the bonuses of working at that restaurant.
- “Can I take next weekend off?” The answer is no. Never ask for time off when you’re starting at a new place. If it’s something of importance, ask your employer and explain the situation to them. If it’s for your friend’s birthday party, keep that to yourself and do the hours they need from you.
TIP #7 Know your schedule.
Not showing up for a training because you didn’t know you were working is unacceptable. It’s not only frustrating for the restaurant, but for you as well. They will most likely not have you back. When getting your schedule for training, make sure you double check that you have the correct days and hours. Get the phone number to contact the person giving you your hours so that you can call in case you’re unsure. Be prepared. There are no excuses.
TIP#8 Focus on your job
The worst thing you can do is start yapping away with coworkers about what you did that weekend or telling your life story to your trainer while you should be paying attention to your customers and what you should be learning. Talking and telling stories will distract you from ordering food on time, seeing new tables being seated in your section, and remembering customer’s requests. Stay focused. Be friendly, but your priority is work, not socializing.
It’s really important to show that you’re happy to be there and working so smile! Also, it shows everyone that you are capable of having a good relationships with the customers, that you’re friendly, and easy to work with. A smile can go such a long way so don’t forget to let it shine.
Getting trained to be a server at a restaurant doesn’t necessarily mean you got the job, so make sure you’re constantly doing your best. Hopefully these tips will help give you a bit of perspective before starting your first day.