Thursday, December 28, 2006

How to Be a Waiter

Working in a restaurant environment can be tough work, especially when you have a nagging boss, complaining customers, limited time, and horrible co-workers. Yet, so many people are applying for this job, whether they know how to do it or not. If you are a good multi-tasker, this would be an excellent job choice. If not, why not?

1. Always be well-groomed and keep your clothes clean and wrinkle-free.

2. Tie your apron around your waist to carry straws, tickets, chopsticks, etc. Check to confirm you are carrying enough supplies to last a couple hours.

3. If a hostess is not present, greet customers with a smile as they enter the establishment. Maintain balanced eye-contact, but avoid staring too much.

4. As you seat them at their table, perhaps stir up small conversation as you proceed to take their drink orders.

5. Hastily get their drinks delivered to their table. Give them a few minutes to peruse the menu, then take their meal order.

6. Be sure the customer has napkins, silverware, a menu, and ashtray if in smoking section.

7. Don't overly badger the customers. Avoid going into eagle-hawk mode. Customers hate to be ogled at. How would you feel if someone was glaring at you as you ate your meal?

8. If a table wants something they will glance around to look for you. If you stay alert and watch (not stare) your tables as you walk the floor most costomers will make eye contact as a signal that they need you. This can give them the feeling like you're paying attention without hovering or badgering them. When their good food and conversation is over, they will start looking around at other diners or the walls. This can tell you when to clear plates, offer desserts or drop the check.

9. When they are finished with their meal, ask them if you can get them anything else. If they say no, promptly give them their check and wish them a good day. All pressure sales will be made before they ask for the check or not at all.


* If you have spare time: If two people are sitting at a table and one goes to the restroom or excuses her- or himself for a moment, and if the other person looks even slightly uncomfortable or awkward siting alone, go by and make small talk until the partner comes back or as long as you can before another table needs attention. (Do not fail to keep an eye on other tables while doing this.)

* Even if not required in training, memorize the menu cover to cover ASAP. Talk to the kitchen to familiarize yourself with any specials. Taste sauces if possible.

* If you are not busy at the moment and notice a customer at another table is in need of something, assist them. If you help out your fellow waiters, they will be more likely to help you out as well. Good service (no matter who provides it) will ensure that customers will come back - that's keeping your paychecks coming.

* Striking up friendly chat is usually recommended, but keep in mind that some customers desire privacy more than others and may become irritated by intrusions.

* Customers can boil up and become upset over the most miniscule things, such as the wrong drink order. When this happens, stay calm and correct the situation and apologize to the customer. You may find the LEADS policy helpful:
o Listen to the customer's complaint.
o Empathize with the concern ("I know it can be frustrating when you get the wrong order...").
o Apologize personally for the problem, even if it isn't your fault.
o Do what it takes to make it right with the customer, such as offering a free appetizer or other cheap item, or reducing the bill (check with your manager).
o Stand by your promise.

* Never tell a customer you will do something or "be right back" and not do it. Do not promise to do something, anything, and not do it.

* Interaction and cooperation among co-workers is crucial in the speed of the deliverance of food. Be kind to others, though they may be sour.

* Answering the phone may be part of the waiter's job. Clearly speak into the receiver to be understood, and make sure you understand what the customer wants. Always write down the customer's phone number.

* Use caution when writing down orders. If the kitchen gets the incorrect orders, the waiter will be the one responsible for the payment of the incorrect food. Plus, you might have an angry customer waiting.

* Tip your bartender and busboy well. Remember good drinks and quick service = good mood = good tips. If you don't have a busboy, try your hardest to keep their water/tea glasses filled without being intrusive.

* If you work in a smoking restaurant, always carry a lighter. If a woman pulls out a cigarette, light it for her—small detail, big impact. Keep your eye on the ashtray; if it is even a little dirty, bring a fresh one and replace the old one without being intrusive. If another person lights a cigarette, bring over an extra ashtray—don't ask, just discreetly place it on the table. If you have a busboy that you tip well, then you can ask him/her to keep a lookout for it.

* Even when having pleasant conversation with co-workers, face your tables so you can see if they motion or start looking for something. If customers see you with your back turned, chit-chatting with a friend, they are more likely to be annoyed and feel they are not receiving good service.

* Keep a spare shirt or tie at the restaurant. Accidents happen and a sloppy waiter is not good for the appetite.

* If someone forgot to make tea and there is only enough for half a glass or a little more, add more ice and fill the rest with water. Customers appreciate fast service more than anything. Go back and start the tea. If they notice the tea is weak (most won't), tell them you will start a fresh brew just for them.