Tip of the Day: Don’t Judge People’s Food Choices

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When asked ‘What is the worst thing a waiter or waitress can do while serving you?’, this is the response that was given:

“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)

Judging customer’s food choices 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 feel 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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The Results Are In!

Last week’s server poll brought in a lot of people from Twitter wanting to give their opinion and so a big thank you to Server Problems ( @itsaserverslife ) who re-tweeted the post bringing in many viewers! You rock!

So, in today’s news…the results are in to the question “What Do You Do When…A Customer Thanks You For Your Great Service”

Results Sept 11

A whopping 56% of the votes went towards “Thank them and say ‘I hope to see you again soon”.  I’m guessing the reason for this is that it actually is the most standard reply.  There may be another hidden reason behind it.  Either the servers are generally worried about giving their name to their guests or they don’t want to invite most customers back to see them (specifically).  Sometimes getting a different rush of customers can be rewarding.

I’m a little surprised by the 11% of voters who feel awkward about compliments.  I feel awkward when I first started as a waitress and realized that people actually do go out of their way to compliment servers who are good.  Most people won’t say anything at all, feeling too shy or wonder what it’s going to accomplish.  So, when a customer raves about your service, don’t feel awkward.  Feel proud that you did an amazing job!

15% of the voters believed that when people thank you for the good service, what they’re really doing is skimping out on the tip.  Actually, it happens a lot.  I’ve served tables that the timing was perfect, we laughed and made jokes together, the bill got higher and higher and I thought for sure I was going to get above the standard tipping percent.  Everything was excellent.  Then, when the check is handed back to me, everyone thanks me for the amazing service, “You’re one of the best waitresses we’ve had in a while”, and then …..BOOM! You open the check presenter only to find that they left you $20 on a $300 bill.  Great…..get my hopes up why don’t you?

19% of voters are just like me.  I’m really the kind of waitress to invite people back to see me.  Something that I’ve noticed is on Saturday and Sunday nights I sometimes get more tables than the rest of the waitstaff.  I remember clearly one Saturday night, there were 12 servers working.  It was the beginning of our shifts and I got the first table.  Then, all of a sudden, I’m getting a second one.  Apparently they asked for my section because they loved my service last time and remembered my name.  So I had two tables while everyone else had none.  The next people who walked in? You guessed it! Also asked for my section.  The other servers were furious, asking “Why are you getting all the tables?”.  I told them because I do my job properly.  They went off to complain to the manager. He just laughed at them. “What do you want me to do?” he said, “Tell the customers they can’t be served by her because it’s unfair to everyone else? I don’t think so.”

Everyone has a different way of serving, so I say…to each their own! Do what you feel is comfortable and what feels right to you as a server.

Why do you reply the way that you do?  Do you find it benefits you in any way?

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How Being a Hostess Taught Me to Be a Better Server

For 4 years before I started serving tables, I was a hostess.  Not just any regular, everyday hostess…I was deemed Head Hostess.  This title pretty much meant that I was in charge of verifying all reservations, seating rotation, setting up large parties, organizing the wait list, and distributing tables evenly among the servers.  It was, in my experience, a difficult job.  The multitasking  and workload, however, was not what made it challenging.  It was handling the customers (along with their complaints) and most of all…dealing with the servers.

In my restaurant, the waiters and waitresses are not allowed to go up to the front desk and bother the hostesses.  Any problems with tables or fairness were supposed to be brought up to the Floor Manager and from the Floor Manager to the Hostess.  However, when the Floor Manager was busy chatting up a storm with regular customers or taking care of a customer complaint with a certain waiter, servers would flock to the front entrance like a bunch of vultures and harass the hostesses.  Why does he have more tables than me? What do you mean my reservation canceled…give me another one! I don’t want any more tables, I want to get out of here early.

On slow days, I would constantly hear their complaints about customers.  They would be all riled up because a table left them $8 on $102 or their table was just having two coffees and sharing a soup.  I’d hear all these horror stories about guests dining and dashing, dishing out impossible demands, and even belittling them as people.  After days of hearing all of these tales of woe, I decided then and there that I did NOT want to be a server.

But, when the time came that I had learned everything I possible could about being a Hostess, I figured it was time for me to learn something a little more challenging.  Knowing what I knew about the difficulty of being a server, I thought that maybe it would be different for me. So, I started learning the menu, how to punch in orders, and the timing of the plates.

As I started learning more and more and watched the best waiters work, I started to notice how horrible some of them actually were.  As I circulated within the restaurant, I was getting stopped by a lot of guests complaining that they had no utensils, were low on water, that their food was taking too long,  and that they couldn’t find their waitress.  Even though I was a Hostess and could have said “It won’t be long, I’ll get your server”, I stepped up to the plate and decided to handle these things personally. I would get the water pitchers and make my way through the whole restaurant filling up glasses.  I made sure everyone had utensils.  I checked with the Expiditor if food was taking too long.  If someone wanted another drink, I took their order and sent off the order to the bar.

Slowly I started to notice the things you need to do as a server…and the things you should NEVER do.  When it came time for my training, I already had a great overview of what was expected of me.  I never neglected filling up water glasses.  I never talked in the back, ignoring my customers.  I always made myself available to them and any other table in the restaurant.  I picked up visual cues and could tell when a customers was ready to pay or was getting up in search of the bathrooms.  Anticipating the guests needs became a strong point for me.

The hostesses loved me because I would never go up and harass them about getting more customers.  They would clear off my tables and reset it and sit more people all because I would watch the door for them when they’d run off to eat something in the back.  It was a give and take relationship with them and because I knew the challenges of being a hostess and how the servers try any way possible to get them to fold and give them new tables, in their eyes I was the best waitress to get along with.  Soon after, I became a bridge between servers and hostesses.  Complaints from waiters about hostesses started coming to me and instead of brushing them off I’d explain to them why their table changed places or why one waitress had more tables (because she had all the tables by the windows – customers love that section).  I took the load off of them for quite some time and I think they appreciated the silence for once.

Being a Hostess and walking around the restaurant taught me how to be a better server.  I was like a fly on the wall, learning the job from only the very best and learning how to take care of neglected customers from the very worst.  Without being a hostess, I’m not sure if I’d be the waitress I am today.  I may have started at a low end restaurant, without a decent training and no restaurant experience.  I could have been one of those servers, the ones who don’t give a damn about customer service…only the money in their pocket.  So, when I’m passing by the front desk sometimes and I see a girl applying for a job as a waitress (even though she has no experience), I wonder why they don’t apply for the Hostess job instead.  Maybe they don’t realize that sometimes that is the best way to get the job you want.  Start slow and work your way up.  Like I did.

So, my advice to anyone looking to get into the restaurant business for the first time is this:  take any job you can get.  Most places ask for a minimum amount of years of experiences in order to be a server, but can take you with no experience in another position.  You’ll have to work hard and prove yourself to the managers and owners, but from my experience a lot of restaurants like to hire within the restaurant.  We need new waitresses.  Well, how about Kayla over there? She’s been working hostess for 3 years, maybe she can handle it.

Any experience you can gather up will only improve your service later on.  You could go from dishwasher, to kitchen, to bar, to waiter and then… Voilà!  Your a waiter who knows how everything works and how things are run in the restaurant.  Are you in one of those positions now? Don’t sell yourself short, it may just be a stepping stone to yet another experience…serving tables and serving them well.

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To Write or Not to Write? The Pros and Cons of Memorizing Orders

fan4228379043Some servers have the amazing ability of listening to a table’s order and remembering every small detail without ever touching a paper and pen.  Some can take orders of up to at least 10 people without even batting an eye.  No matter how many exceptions, replacements, or changes the customers make these waiters will somehow manage to get the order rung up .Personally, that just boggles my mind.

As a waitress (and a person for that matter) who’s afraid to forget the simplest little thing, I am constantly writing everything down.  My fear is that I’ll carelessly make a mistake and forget to order a glass of wine or order a steak well-done instead of medium-well.  So, with that fear deep-rooted in my system, I make it a point to write down all my orders even if I’m taking the order for a table of one.

Every waiter and waitress has their own system of taking down orders whether it be just doodling on your order sheet while memorizing every point or penning every single word the customer says.  If you have a great memory and are just starting out as a waiter/waitress in training, you may want to consider the pros and cons of memorizing orders.

PRO

The eye contact that you keep with a customer while taking their order is extremely important.  Some waiters just stare at their order sheet the whole time while writing down orders which leaves the customers feeling short-changed on the “service with a smile”.  Some are capable of writing without looking down too many times, which is an improvement at least, but memorizing your orders can give you complete control over your eye contact with your guests, creating a very friendly and open service for them.

CON

If you’re planning on memorizing orders, keep in mind that you are more likely to make mistakes.  The amount of times I’ve seen a server run up to the kitchen and say something around the lines of “My bad, guys. It was supposed to be the salmon, not the tuna” is staggering.  It could end up happening more often than you’d probably like to admit and can maintain a certain amount of hostility between you and your coworkers.  Not to mention the managers will be wondering how all these mistakes are affecting their food costs.

PRO

With no pen and paper glued to your hands at every moment of service, your free hands allow you to do other things while taking drink and dessert orders.  You could be tidying up your tables of any clutter, picking up empty beer glasses, or picking up menus.  The ability to multitask in the restaurant business is a big bonus on your side if you are able to do many things at once.  Plus, the length of the service with diminish slightly by just having the free hands to clear the table and memorize coffee orders at the same time, making it easier to turn your tables and serve more customers.

CON

Sometimes, as you’re leaving a table to enter the order into the computer system, someone may stop you along the way preventing you from getting to the computer while the order is still fresh in your mind.  Maybe a customer will have a complaint and stop you for a whole 5 minutes before giving you a chance to ring up the order.  What happens then?  Your mind gets completely distracted by the complaint that you stand at the computer holding your head thinking “What did she order? What appetizer did he want?  Did he want fries or rice with his steak?”.  Sometimes you’ll remember…sometimes you’ll just forget.  Forgetting an order can be extremely embarrassing and seems pretty unprofessional if you need to go up to the guests a second time to ask that they ordered.

PRO

Memorizing your orders can save a lot of time when it comes to ringing up your order.  Instead of constantly referring to your order sheet, you’re simply punching in your orders without missing a beat to glance down at what you’ve written.  This can save time on your service and once again allows for a quicker service, which means your customers are receiving their orders sooner than other therefore satisfied with the fact that they aren’t waiting longer for their food to arrive.  Every second or minute saved counts for a lot in the restaurant business.

CON

Not writing down an order can make your customers nervous.  One night I went out to eat at a restaurant.  We were a table of 6 people and the waitress just took our order by memory.  I asked for a few things on the side since it was my first experience at that particular establishment and wasn’t sure about the sauces offered with my plate.  I felt worried that may order may be wrong, but decided to give her the benefit of of the doubt.  When it came time to the appetizers, I received a salad instead of the soup and my steak came turned out medium-well instead of medium-rare.  In my mind, if you aren’t going to write anything down then you’d better make sure that you’ve remembered everything 100%.  Sure, people make mistakes and I understand that more than anyone, but other guests may not be so forgiving.  When customers see that you’re relying solely on your memory for taking orders, they have that knowledge to use against you when things go wrong and may even approach a manager about it, suggesting that you write everyone down from that moment on.

CON

When taking orders, servers know that it’s best to repeat orders back to the customers as they go along to avoid any mistakes or misunderstandings.  When an order comes out wrong, your manager may ask you something around the lines of “Well, what did the customer order?”.  Your answer may be “She definitely said she wanted the mashed potatoes, but when the plate got there she said she asked for a baked potato.”  The manager might then proceed to ask what you had written down on your order sheet in order to see if you either a) punched it in wrong or b) wrote it down wrong.  When you’ve done everything by memory, the manager is then just taking your word for it and may jump to the conclusion that you’re the one who made the mistake.  If you’re repeating the order back to the customer and writing it down properly, he may then assume that it’s just the customer creating a problem for nothing and will be more inclined to believe you when you say you got the order right.

Remember…

Everybody makes mistakes, even if you’re the type of server to write each order down on paper.  The thing to keep in mind is that you’re only human, so do the best that you can no matter which order-taking process you choose to use as a server.  Think about what kind of waiter you want to be and go from there.

Good Luck!

The Waitress Confessions

 

 

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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Waitstaff Portrait

8 Tips on How to Train a New Waiter/Waitress

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Work Ethic: Minimize Your Trips and Maximize Your Steps

blurry restoWaiters and waitresses are constantly being thrown all around the restaurant.  Fetch this, pick up that, take orders, run plates, etc.  It’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle and can wind up looking like a chicken with its head cut off.  The key to being a productive and organized server is learning to Minimize Your Trips and Maximize your steps.

What does it mean to “Minimize Your Trips”?

Well, let’s say your Table #1 needs more water and Table #2 needs the debit machine to pay.  There are two ways you could possible go about this.

You could:

  • Get the water pitcher
  • Walk to Table #1 to fill up the glasses
  • Go back and put the water pitcher away
  • Pick up the debit machine
  • Walk to Table #2 and have them pay
  • Put back the debit machine and continue on your way

Or you could:

  • Pick up the water pitcher and debit machine
  • Fill the water on Table #1
  • Have Table #2 pay
  • Bring the water pitcher and debit machine back where they belong and continue on your way.

The second way is most obviously the better route to take. Going back and forth for things can end up wasting your time (and your customer’s time) which leads to a slower service, less sittings, therefore fewer tips in your pocket.

Take a good look at your section and your tables from afar, see what needs to be done, and plan accordingly.  You will always find yourself at one point or another going back and forth for things, but sometimes that’s out of your control (ex: a customer asks for another beer at the last second).

What does it mean to “Maximize Your Steps”?

Make every step you take count!  Walking by a table that is finished eating? Clear as much as you can.  Bringing water to a table? Walk by all your tables to refill water glasses before you put the pitcher away.  Do everything you can possible do while walking through your section before walking off to the bar or the back of the house.

this also applies to running drinks and plates.  Don’t just take one table’s beverage from the bar.  Take the initiative and bring several drink orders at once.  It clears the bar faster, the customers get their drinks quicker, and you don’t have to keep going back and forth for things.  Maximizing your steps helps minimize your trips.  Is there only one drink order at the bar?  You should be checking if there are any plates to run from the kitchen.  Keeping that “hands full” attitude will grab your managers attention, letting them know you can handle many different things at once. Remember, maximizing your steps helps minimize your trips.

Different restaurants, different rules…

Of course, these things vary from each restaurant you may work at.  In general, you do want to organize the priorities in your section without feeling like you keep going back and forth..back and forth.  Sometimes you just need to take a second and take in all the things you need to do, put them in order, and find the most effective way to get each task done.

Good luck!

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The Importance of Getting to Work On Time

Resto Red ChairsIt seems simple, doesn’t it?  Getting to work on time.  Although, for some people it just never seems to happen.  That coworker who strolls in 15 minutes late without a care in the world or the vet waiter who’s been there for 16 years and feels they can do whatever they want whenever they want.  We see it all the time and sometimes we even notice it in ourselves.

Tardiness drives me absolutely insane.  You know why? Because it’s one of the easiest things you can do to gain the respect of your boss and coworkers without them even realizing it.  Plus, it also has advantages for yourself.  Sometimes employees don’t really seem to grasp the importance of being on time and what they don’t realize is the benefits that come along with it.

First, you have more time to prepare for the day ahead.  That’s the real reason why the managers want to see you there on time (or even early).  In the restaurant business, you never know what can happen.  A group of 25 people can walk in at any minute and at all times you want to be ready for whatever rush is thrown at you.  When you get into work early and all systems are a go, you’ll look more professional when that unexpected rush comes in.  Your boss will be impressed.  Who knows, you may even score a bigger (or better) section next time.

Another reason to be on time is for those odd days where tables start coming in early.  This is mostly for shifts where you’re getting on the floor and there is already a waiter.  If he’s buried or in the weeds then hostesses will start seating people in your section giving you a couple extra tables for the night.  It helps out your coworker, plus puts a bit of extra cash in your pocket.

Last, it just shows a certain amount of respect for you job.  Your bosses want to see that you care about the restaurant and actually want to be there.  If they see an employee slacking off, coming in late, it shows them that they’d probably be better of hiring someone else.  If you value your job and want to keep it then make a point of getting to work on time for every shift.

If you are going to be late for important reasons, pick up the phone and call.  It’s the least you can do, but don’t make a habit out of it.  For emergencies only.

Do you think it’s important to be on time for your shift?  Leave a comment or tweet us!

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9 Tips for a Waiter/Waitress In Training

The Italian Wine and Food Advocates Alfresco DinnerSo, 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.

TIP#9  Smile.

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.

Remember…

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.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or if you have any tips of your own you can contact us  or tweet a tip to @WConfessions

The Waitress Confessions

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