What’s Your Order? : Shake, Shake, Shake…


What’s You Order is where The Waitress Confessions leaves telling the tales of the service industry up to you!

If you’d like to be part of this segment and share your story,  just write to us!


Dear Waitress…

Okay, so I’ve been hostessing for three years now to make money for college. I’ll have a few more expenses coming this fall, so when offered a second job at a different restaurant as a server, I took it.

Now I’m not new to serving. My mother owned and operated a restaurant for 40 years before she retired. So obviously being around the industry my whole life, I know the difference between good service and bad service. I just needed to learn the menu and any required phrases when I took this job.

So I’m serving one night, and this couple comes in. First off, the floor changed and I was not told this. More so, the floor chart was shoved to the side and not displayed where I could actually see it. So they sat there for a bit before I got to them. I apologized and got their shakes and burgers out asap. I came back multiple times to make sure everything was okay. “Oh yes, everything is good, thank you.” was what I was told. It was when they ordered a shake to-go that things went bad. They waited for-ever for that shake because the shake person was behind. I did everything I could besides going back there and and forcing him to make it. That’s when they asked the manager to come over, and they told him that both the food and the service was horrible. He comped their check, and then after they got their shake, they left – without leaving any tip.

Now okay, I’m not saying I didn’t make any mistakes here. I could have been more attentive to the stations, and I could have asked the manager to make the shake. BUT at the same time, and I’ve seen this countless countless times at my other job too, the couple could have TOLD me their was something wrong with their food BEFORE they ate it all. We are servers, not mind readers. If customers do not tell us there is a problem, then we can not help them. Fortunately my manager was understanding, especially since I’ve been giving great service to all my other customers. However some are not so lucky. Obviously if there’s a complaint on the service then it’s on us.

It just tears me up that full grown adults cannot speak for themselves when they have a problem, and then get upset when said problem isn’t magically fixed. Even if it’s just a small thing, TELL US! Not only will you get a great dining experience, but we will know that you are 100% happy with your meal.

Sincerely,
Angela

 

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Waiters’ top 20 ways to not be a horrible restaurant customer

Ralph DailyA coworker of mine showed me this article in our local newspaper and just had to share it with me and the rest of the staff.  Most of us can relate to it, so I seriously encourage you, as a server, to take a look and realize that you are not alone with these feelings! Most of them are completely normal. Some we agree with, some we don’t, but it’s important for us to feel like there are other people out there going through the exact same thing day after day.

There are so many things that customers do, whether intentionally or not, that really irks us as servers.

If you are going out to a restaurant, please check out these Waiters’ top 20 ways to not be a horrible restaurant customer.

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Ellen Degeneres Gives Waitress a New Car!

Sometimes a little goes a long way…

As waiters and waitresses, we need to do our best to remember that sometimes all the little things we do for our guests can go a long way.  We can brighten someone’s day, help make two people’s first date go smoothly with good food and good drinks, sometimes give a little something on the house when it’s someone’s birthday or anniversary, etc.  Just a smile can change someone’s mood for the better.  Every little bit counts.

Now, we may not all have someone like Ellen notice and give us a $10,000 tip or a brand new car, but we should still do all the small things that make everyone’s life just a little easier.  The perks of being a server.

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This Week’s Customer Complaint

In your opinion, what is the worst thing a waiter or waitress can do while serving you?

Busy Waiter

“Not be present and attentive.  If the only time I see them is when they take my order, bring my food and take my payment, then they might as well be behind a counter asking if I want small, medium or large. Otherwise, check in – often.”   -Richard (Businessman)

Our Thoughts…

Great service is what should set restaurants apart from fast food chains and take-out restaurants. Checking in is one of the most important steps in service and one that should never be forgotten.  All guests want to feel like they’re special and that you’re genuinely concerned about their dining experience.  A quick “Is everything alright here? Can I get you anything else?” can make a whole difference in the eyes of your customers.

Photo credit: Ralph Daily 2011

This Week’s Customer Confession

In your opinion, what is the worst thing a waiter or waitress can do while serving you?

Busy Waiter“Question what I order.  It’s happened before that I ask for something a little unusual (add this, take this off) and the server will say ‘Are you sure that’s what you want?’ It really annoys me because the answer is ‘Yes. This is what I want, otherwise I wouldn’t order it.’  Please don’t judge my choices.”  – Emily (Store Supervisor)

Our Thoughts…

Judging customers choices of food can be extremely insulting.  Making comments such as “That’s a lot of food, are you sure you want that?” or “Not the best choice of wine, but if that’s what you want…” can be taken very badly, leaving the customer feeling self-conscious and anxious. Instead of asking the customer if they are sure of their order, repeat it back to them and wait for confirmation that the order is correct, especially when it comes to “strange” or “weird” food orders.   Never make your guests doubt their orders based on your personal tastes.

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Photo credit: Ralph Daily 2011

 

This Week’s Customer Complaint

In your opinion, what is the worst thing a waiter or waitress can do while serving you?

customers2“Purposely ignore me.  I was at a restaurant one day before 4 o’clock on a Sunday. The waitress took our order, brought our food, but then never came back. We had no utensils or napkins either.  After waiting a while, we saw her walking around and tried to get her attention, but soon as she saw our hands raised she just walked away.  We had to ask someone else to get it. Then, after our meal, we wanted another drink, but we couldn’t find our waitress anywhere. She didn’t even bring us our bill and at that point we decided to leave.  So, we went to the front to pay and saw her by the kitchen chatting up a storm with her co-workers. She saw us leaving and purposely looked away and continued her conversation.  We left and never looked back.”  -Laura (Massage Therapist)

Our thoughts…

This is a clear example of servers purposely ignoring their customers.  Both the guests and the server know it’s happening, which creates a very hostile environment.  Now, not only did the waitress’ lack of work ethic leave the customers feeling neglected, but it also lost the restaurant more sales.  Instead of checking in on her guests every so often and up-selling, this particular waitress treated work more like a social outing.  If you’re honestly looking to build up your clientele, do not purposely ignore them. If you see them trying to get your attention, get to them as fast as possible.  Keep on top of your tables and be readily available to anticipate your guests’ needs. Read more

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This Week’s Server Poll: What Do You Do When…

Leave a comment below to let us know how you handle compliments from customers.

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Calling All Waiters and Waitresses!

It’s poll time!

The Waitress Confessions is looking for your opinion! When you go out to eat and are served by a decent server, are you a good customer to have…or a bad one? Cm’on …..let’s be honest!

If you have more to say, please feel free to contact us! We may even use post your deep thoughts and concerns in a post (credit given…of course).

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Tricks to Learning Your Menu

One of the most important things to do as a server is Learn Your Menu.  When customers have questions about which items can be altered, side dishes, does it come with soup or salad, you need to be prepared.  The “let me go check” answer or lying to them is just going to get you in trouble down the road.  It wastes your time and your customer’s time.

If you’re having problems memorizing all the details and specifications of the menu, here are a few tricks to make learning your menu that much easier.

Trick # 1 : Write or type out the menu

It may seem redundant and a little over the top, but that was the best way for me to learn my menu.  Some people need to write things down in order to remember them for later.  Take your menu home with you and copy it all out.  Especially the descriptions. That way, when a customer asks “What’s your seafood linguini like?”, you can name the description right off the top of your head, including any little other tidbits you may know.

The worst kind of reply would be “Well…it’s linguini with seafood in it”.  Avoid that response as much as possible.  Think about it. What kind of sauce is it?  What kind of seafood is in it exactly? What is the portion like? Is it served with anything else?  Typing or writing out the menu along with the descriptions may be a way to learn your menu that you never thought of.

Trick #2 : Study with a partner

If you’re lucky enough, another waiter or waitress (if you’re training than possibly your trainer) may be up for studying the menu with you.  If not, a friend will do but keep in mind they won’t be able to answer your questions if doubt does pop into your mind.  Get the other person to quiz you, ask you questions that a real customer would, role play and act out the whole ordering process.  The more you do this, the more comfortable you’ll feel about the menu and what to respond to customers.

Trick #3 : Make a photocopy of the menu

When making a photocopy of the menu, it allows you to jot down notes on the actual menu so that when you’re reading through it, you have visual cues on what you should be remembering.  Highlight items, underline portion sizes, put stars next to the most popular plates, etc.  Come up with a system that works for you.

Trick #4 : Read the WHOLE menu

Another trick that may sound obvious, but a lot of times servers just glance at the plates or the wine list, memorizing the names and descriptions.  But what about those small little details in fine print?  Sometimes menus have words written all over it and it’s hard to get through it all, but make sure you know every single word on there, including the small print that hardly anyone glances at.  You don’t ever want a customer to know the menu more than you do.  So if there are exceptions in the small print, added costs to meals written in italics, side dishes that are NOT included with the meal then you need to know them 100%

Good luck!

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8 Tips on How to Train a New Waiter/Waitress

Waitstaff Portrait
Photo Credit: DWinton 2005

There’s a certain sense of pride you should have if your boss has assigned a server-in-training to you.  It means that you’re doing your job well and are capable of showing someone else the ropes.   So take a moment to congratulate yourself: you are a great server!

But what happens when you’re unsure of how exactly to train someone?  You may have been doing the job for so long that you know everything as if second nature, so teaching someone else without forgetting something can be a little nerve wracking.  Some restaurants have a strict training policy, but others kind of just throw you into it, so be prepared no matter which category your job falls into.

Of course, there are a few things to keep in mind when training:  does the person you’re training have experience…or not? At first, I would suggest treating each new employee as if they’re learning for the first time and work from there.  The more experience you see, the less you’ll be teaching about how to be an actual server and the more you’ll be teaching about the working system of your particular restaurant.

Either way, here are a few 8 tips on how to train a new waiter/waitress.   If you’re a server-in-training and need a few tips, you may want to read our article titled 9 Tips for a Waiter/Waitress In Training

TIP #1:  Get organized

There are so many things that need to be taught that some of us don’t even know where to begin.  If you have enough notice from your boss on when the first day of training is, take some time before then to make a list of everything that needs to be shown to the newcomer.  What’s the first thing you want to show them?  What are the most important things that the trainee should memorize?  What do they need to learn first in order to learn the way the restaurant is run?

Here’s an example of a list of priorities, starting with the first day of training:

  • Menu Knowledge
  • Wine List Knowledge (if applicable)
  • Floor Plan Knowledge (table numbers, bar area, sections, etc.)
  • Tour of the restaurant (so the trainee knows where everything is: bathrooms, stock rooms, fridges, stations, etc)
  • How to clock in and clock out
  • Cleaning tasks and side works
  • Tables (presentation, cleaning, preparations, etc)
  • The “running” system of the restaurants (how to run drinks from the bar, salads, soups, hot food, etc)
  • How to greet customers
  • How to take orders
  • How to ring up the orders (POS System)
  • Any steps of service (check backs, recooks, how to handle any complaints, etc)
  • Serving coffee and dessert
  • Presenting the check
  • Closing duties
  • Closing cleaning tasks and restocking
  • Sales report at the end of the shift
  • Rules of the restaurant

Make sure you follow a certain schedule so that they training makes sense.  You don’t want to start showing them how to take orders if they haven’t even begun to memorize the menu (although, in my opinion, the trainee should have at least 85% of the menu memorized by their first day of training. Tip of the Day: Learn Your Menu.)  Following your list of priorities will help you make sure you didn’t skip a step.

TIP #2:  Shadowing

A very important step.  Have your trainee “shadow” your every move.  Before they even take an order, have them watch every step you take.  Tell them to note how you speak with the customers, your tone of voice, your facial features, your posture, etc.  Every little thing is important and if your restaurant has a way of presenting specials, up-selling promotions, or even describing the catch of the day make sure that your trainee knows the proper way to do these things.  Consistency is very important in the restaurant business.

Also, when it comes time to picking up the speed and running drinks and food, it’s important that your trainee recognizes the pace of your particular restaurant and learns how to keep up with it.  At a quickly paced restaurant, the last thing you want is for your trainee to get stuck in 2nd gear when they should be shifting it up a few notches.  Tell them to keep up with you and that you want then 2 steps behind at all times.

TIP #3: Answer their questions

No matter how naive the question may seem, just answer it in a polite way.    It may seem like common sense to you, but remember that every restaurant is different and they just want to know how things run at their new place of work.  The more questions they ask, the better.  Take note, however, if they are asking the same questions over and over.  They are there to learn and soak up as much knowledge as they can, but if they can’t retain any of the things you are teaching them, it may be a red flag.

TIP #4 : Ask questions

This is the best way for new servers to learn, especially when it comes to learning the menu.  Ask them to describe certain dishes for you.  If they stumble or come out with a wishy-washy description, show them the correct way of describing the restaurants meals and tell them to practice.  Ask them to name all the beers the restaurant offers on tap.  They may respond, for example, like this “Uh…Heineken…um, Guinness….” so be prepared to show off a little and show them how you list off all the beers.  Asking questions before customers get a chance to ask them is the best way for them to prepared when it comes time for them to take orders.  Feel free to ask questions out of the blue and don’t be afraid to put them on the spot.  During a rush, they’ll need to be prepared so catch them off guard so when the time comes they aren’t flailing for answers.

TIP #5: Role play

Pretend you are a customer and go through a dry run of taking a table’s order.  Have them come up to you (pretending to be a customer) and act out a service.  If you think it’s silly…well it is a little.  But it’s the best way for you to get an idea of how they will be once faced with real customers.  Remember, they will be practicing on your tables, so you want them to make as little mistakes as possible.  A dry run will help you to correct any bad habits, mistakes, and allow you to make suggestions.  Also, it will give the trainee a chance to get out their nerves before heading over to their first table.

TIP #6: Shadow them

Once the training has been done and you are ready to see them in action,  let them take the reigns for a while.  Inform them that they will be handling everything from A to Z and you’ll be following them to make sure that they are serving the guests properly.  Be ready to jump in when they aren’t sure and take mental notes on anything that they are doing that doesn’t meet your restaurant’s standards.  At the end of the day, go over what they need to work on, point out any strong points or things that they did perfectly, and ask if they have any questions or comments about how they believe their service was.

TIP #7: Give them space

If your trainee is catching on quickly and is starting to really get a feel for the job, give them a bit of space.  Back off and let them take the wheel for a bit.  See how they do on their own.  Let them make a few minor mistakes so that they will learn (while making sure it doesn’t affect your customer’s dining experience of course). Make a few comments here and there such as “Hurry it up a bit” or “You forgot to order their drinks” and ask a few questions to help guide them such as “What are you forgetting on that table?” or “What’s your priority right now?”.  But other than that, pretend that they are working alone.  It’s the best way for you to see if they are capable of handling the job and the best way for them to get a real sense of what is expected of them.

TIP #8: Teach them how to Spoil Their Customers

Every restaurant has a different way of spoiling their customers.  Whether it be offering a drink on the house for a regular customer or going above and beyond the steps of service, there are always ways that you can teach someone how the restaurants customers prefer to be served.  Your trainee may have worked at a previous restaurant that wasn’t as keen about giving good service as you, so make sure they live up to the standards of the restaurant.

Now you’re all set for the basics of training a new waiter/waitress.  Of course, there are so many other little details, but this will help give you an overview of what to do and tricks on how to get the best out of your trainee.

Good luck!

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True Story: An Impossible Demand

This past Sunday, I went in for the lunch shift at the Hot Spot and got a table of 4 people.  They seemed nice enough as I approached them for their drink order, but as time passed I realized that these would be difficult customers to satisfy.  As nice as they were, they were extremely specific (and altogether picky like crazy) about their order and I worried that they may complain about everything from the timing of the service to the quality of the food.

First of all, they wanted their Brazilian Coffees to be hot.  “Put the coffee in the microwave if you have to,” they said.  So that’s what I did.  As much as I hate to nuke things in the microwave, I did what they asked.  The coffee seemed hot enough as I took it out and poured it into a sugar rimmed glass mug.  They didn’t want whipped cream, so I filled it to the top and took it to the table.

I set the coffee down in front of the two people who ordered it.  One of them took a sip right away and said it wasn’t hot enough, so I brought it back to heat it up for a minute and a half.  The coffee was boiling and bubbling, so I told the gentleman to be careful.  He touched the mug and seemed happy with how hot it was.

Then, the woman with the other coffee said (in a very disgusted voice, might I add) “Is there even any alcohol in here?”.  I was a little stunned and told her that I had put the correct amount, but if she wasn’t pleased with it i could get her some more.  “Well, yeah. I mean, there’s no alcohol in here at all.”

I sighed to myself.  Of course there was alcohol.  I’m not going to cheap out on that, but I also can’t make it half alcohol and half coffee (like some people may make at home).  “I’ll get you some more, ma’am.  It won’t be a problem at all,” I reassured her.

Before I could leave and get the alcohol for her, another man at the table told me they were ready to order, so I set down the tray I used to bring the drinks and took out my pad of paper and pen.  Their order was complicated and they were changing things around on the menu to suit their preferences, but I didn’t mind as much since they were the only table in the restaurant.  I also didn’t feel like arguing with them that normally we don’t put ketchup on our burgers.

As soon as I was taking the menus from them and about to walk away from the table, the woman with the coffee said “Excuse me, but is that alcohol coming?”

Cue the crickets.

I didn’t speak for a moment because I was shocked at her question.  I could not believe what she was asking.  How could the alcohol possibly get to the table without me leaving to go order it, let alone get it from the bar.  Did she think I could have sent out a discreet signal to someone to get it right away?  Did she think I could somehow communicate with the bar that she wanted more? How could she possibly think that it could get there if I never even left the table?  It seemed like such a ridiculous question to me.  I guess some people don’t have much common sense in how things work.  It is impossible for me to get something if I haven’t even left the table.  If I could use The Force, I would.  But I can’t.

So I said “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I haven’t even had a chance to leave the table yet, but I’ll get it for you right away.”

“Well, don’t forget it.” She replied.

All I could do was repeat “I’ll get it right away ma’am”.

So I pretty much ran to the bar and prepared it for her and took it to the table.

“How is it?” I asked as she added it to her mug.

“It’s good enough, I guess.” She said.

The rest of the service was pretty much the same way.  Complaints about the soup not being hot enough, the fact that I didn’t bring bread to the table (we only bring bread if the customers ask), asking what we give for free for birthdays and saying a chocolate cake wasn’t good enough, etc.

Every waiter has had customers like this.  And sometimes it’s a little infuriating.  People need to realize that we are only human, we only have two hands, and we are not mind readers.  I really tried my best, and it still didn’t seem good enough.

TIPS FOR CUSTOMERS

Think about what you are asking from a server.  Is your demand physically impossible? If so…then take a moment to maybe rephrase your request.

TIP FOR SERVERS

Try to keep your cool.

The Waitress Confessions

True Story: Mourning Flowers

“Im down…”  she replied. “My husband is dying” 

A few months ago, a regular customer of mine ( a lady of around 60 years old) came to the restaurant to eat.  I didn’t notice her until another waitress asked me “Does she usually take the small order or the regular meal?”  I really had no idea what she was talking about at first.  I quickly finished cleaning my section so I could go over and say hello.

She’s only been coming every Sunday for the past 2-3 weeks, and every time by herself, and always orders a Bloody Caesar (with double vodka) to start.  Last time, she offered to buy me one!  I told her that was really sweet, but we aren’t allowed to drink on the job.  She understood and told me that she was really thankful for the wonderful service.  I was touched.  She said she would come back to see me because I was a really sweet waitress.
Yesterday, however, when I went over to say hello she didn’t seem like herself.

“Hello there! How are you today?” I asked.

She shook her head and played around with a magazine and bouquet of flowers she had on the table.

“I’m…down.” She replied. “My husband is dying…”

I didn’t really know what to say, except  that I was sorry to hear that.  I’ve never really been good at knowing what to say in those types of situations, especially with people I don’t really know.  She proceeded to tell me that she didn’t know what to do.  She was so depressed, even though it had been a long time coming.   The way I see it, no one can ever be fully prepared for that, no matter how long you might know it will happen.

The woman also told me that she had no family around, no friends, and that she was alone.  I told her that I work during the day on weekends and it’s relatively quiet (not too many people at that time), so if she felt up for having a quick bite to eat she could come to the restaurant and we could chat.  She said she would really love that.  She promised to bring me pictures of her grandchildren that live in Toronto.  I said I’d love to see them.

“Enough about this, I don’t want to burden you at all,” she told me.

“It’s not a burden,” I explained.

“I’m so glad I met you!” she said sweetly.  All I could do was smile.

Her waitress came by at that point and we all chatted for a bit.  A few minutes later we passed by the table again to check on her and she told us that she wanted us to have her flowers.  We denied them at first, saying it was too generous and she deserved to have some beautiful flowers around her house.  She explained that she already had too many.

“I’m an old woman!  Don’t argue with me!” she exclaimed as she thrust the bouquet into our hands.

So the other waitress and I accepted and thanked her for her generosity.  She headed home after…I hope that she got home safely.  She seemed pretty down.  I haven’t seen her since, but hope to see her once again to know that she’s okay.  I at least hope that maybe I cheered her up a little bit by lending an ear.  Everyone needs someone to talk to.

The Waitress Confessions

Dining Etiquette: How to Get Your Waiter’s Attention

There’s nothing more frustrating during your night out to eat than a waiter who is never around when you need them most.  Either you get the walk-by with no eye contact, the waiter who pretends they don’t see you, or a server that tells you “Sorry, I’m not your waiter.”

First of all, those sorts of things should never happen in a professional restaurant.  If you find yourself constantly being neglected, it may be time to find another restaurant to dine at.  But for all other regular circumstances, there’s are some key things you can do to make it easier to grab your server attention when you need something.

1.  Raising your hand

This is one of the simplest and basic ways to grab your server’s attention.  In order for this to work, however, your server must be on top of their game and circulating within their section, readily available for any sign you may be trying to give them.  But, you have to keep in mind that they are not mind readers and sometimes need a clear sign to know that you actually want something.  Be obvious with your hand raising.  Especially while dining out at a busy, rush filled restaurant.  Otherwise, the waiters may think you’re just tapping your hand on the table or talking with your hands.

2.  Learn your waiter’s name.

I’ve mentioned this before in another post called “Remember to Tip Your Waitress”.  As stated before, it’s actually encouraging for servers to be called by their name instead of something as rude as a finger snap.  Imagine your in a busy, loud restaurant and you need another beer.  You call out “Excuse me, Miss” but the waitress doesn’t catch what you said.  If you raise your hand and say “Excuse me, Ashley “, the chances are much better that they’ll notice you.

3.  Speak with a manager.

Of course, servers should be doing their utmost best to make sure your experience at the restaurant is a pleasant one.  If you’re a regular at a restaurant and sense that a server is disrespecting you or purposely ignoring you : ask to speak with the manager.  They may be able to switch your waiter or waitress and may even speak to the server who was ignoring you in the first place. If you find that you enjoy being served by a specific waiter, ask if it’s alright that you be put in their section each time you come.  Management loves to get feedback on the good…and the bad and will most probably do their best to try to give you the service you need as a guest.

4.  Treat your server with respect.

I can guarantee you right now that if you disrespect your server by snapping your fingers, yelling, making fun of them, or calling them names you will not receive the service you were expecting. I’ve seen waiters purposely ignore customers that were rudely snapping their fingers, so the solution is quite simple.  Don’t do it.  Period. If you are constantly getting bad service everywhere you go, take a step back and take a look at you table manners..  Are you making inappropriate jokes?  Do you find yourself swearing at them?  It may be time for a change in your dining etiquette.

There are always exceptions…

Servers are mostly responsible for being available for their guests.  The things, they aren’t machines.  They are responsible sometimes for quite a few tables and sometimes if one thing goes wrong, everything else gets dragged down with it.  If you see you server trying to take care of a problem with another guest, be patient and remember that they are doing their best in sometimes a crummy situation.  If you can help them out some of the time by making it obvious when you need something, it will make their jobs a lot easier and in return you’ll get the service you expect.

The Waitress Confessions

Waiters: Spoil Your Customers

Simon Pierce restaurant
Photo by sfadden

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.

The Waitress Confessions