Whenever I go out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it seems as if a good amount of servers don’t really care about taking care of their tables. I often see other guests being ignored when lifting their hand to get the waiter’s attention and scanning the dining room impatiently waiting to pay. It really surprises me because taking care of your tables should be easy – like second nature.
There are many little things that you can do to spoil your customers:
1. Make eye contact
It seems silly really, but if you’re walking around the restaurant with blinders on, you won’t notice when one of your guests is trying to grab your attention. As a customer, it must be extremely annoying when a waiter doesn’t acknowledge you. Even if you’re in the middle of bringing plates to another table, scan your section. If someone raises their hand, the least you can do is nod to let them know you’ll be going around to see them.
2. Refill water glasses / Ask if they would like another drink
Don’t wait for their water glass to be completely empty before refilling it. Of course, you don’t want to top it off after only a couple of sips, but if the glass is half empty, top it off with some fresh water before they have a chance to finish it all. Some people drink a lot of water, so try your best to accommodate them.
When drinks/beverages are down to 1/4 of the glass, ask if they’d like another. I’m not saying offer it on the house or anything of the sorts, but if a customer stops eating and is looking everywhere for you to order another drink, it’s a waste of time. Think of it, you’ll be satisfying your customers needs before they even realize it and up selling.
3. Learn regular customer’s likes and dislikes
If you have a good memory, this tip will really come in handy. If you’ve been in a certain restaurant long enough, you start to get to know the regular customers that come in and out of the restaurant on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Learn what they like and dislike. If you notice that they always pick out the mushrooms from their pasta and you know it’s possible to make the dish without the mushrooms, suggest to the customer that next time they can order it without mushrooms. Better yet, then next time you serve them try to remember to order the pasta without it. It will surprise them.
For example, I served a couple once and they ordered the chicken. I remembered them saying they loved it, so the next time they came, I remembered and asked “Will we be having the chicken this evening?”. They smiled and said “How did you remember that?”. I just smiled and made a lame joke, but they laughed and looked impressed. Then I noticed that they ordered the same bottle of wine as last time. I added that to my memory so that when they next time they came, I asked them right away if they’d like to start with that bottle of wine. They were speechless and said that from now on they were going to ask to be served by me. Honestly, it’s a win-win situation. Learn your customer’s likes and dislikes.
4. Serve at the customer’s pace
I can’t count the amount of times I’ve gone out to a restaurant only to have the waitress run up to me and ask if I want anything to drink before I even have a chance to sit down. That’s just annoying (“Can I at least sit down and look at the menu first?”). Timing can be difficult, especially since there are some people who know right away that they want a beer immediately (you know – it’s been a hard day). But at least give people a chance to sit. You’ll notice that guests who want a drink asap will settle in much faster than a couple dining in your restaurant for the first time.
Do not rush customers who are taking their time eating. Especially in a group, people will eat slowly while talking and enjoying their night out, so go at their pace. Instead of rushing appetizers, give your customers a chance to sip at their wine a bit or enjoy those few first sips of an ice cold beer.
When it comes to the bill, invite them to take their time so they don’t feel like you’re trying to rush them out the door. I understand needing to turn over your tables and that’s how you make your money, but most people won’t stay that long after receiving the bill unless they’re really chatting up a storm. That can be a problem when it comes to making money, but there’s nothing you can do to change that without obviously trying to kick them out (which is inappropriate). It’s annoying, but it happens. Don’t rush your guests.
5. Think of the little things
All the little things you can do to make your customer’s experience even better than they expected is a bonus. For example, let’s say you have a salad and the guest has 3 salad dressings to choose from. They seem unsure of which one to choose, worried that they may not like it, so why not try suggesting putting it on the side of the salad so that in case they don’t like it, they can change it. It’s a simple solution really and the guest will really appreciate the effort. All the little things like that add up and make for a happy customer.
Waiters, really make an effort to spoil your customers rotten. Give them the service they deserve and treat them with respect. They’ll definitely come back wanting more…and even ask to be served by you.