Work

9 Tips to Increase Your Performance as a Server

Previously I have discussed a few tips to increase server performance. While these still hold true – I’m going to expound on them. I work as a manager in the restaurant industry, these are based on things that I see my own staff doing or things I have discussed with them. Not only will these tips impress your manager but they are sure to impress your guests as well.

  1. Pay attention to the details –
    • Details are everything when you are serving a guest. They make the difference between having someone send something back to the kitchen or them loving the dish.
    • Attention to details encompasses knowing:
    • what ingredients the kitchen uses
    • checking your section for wobbling tables
    • making sure your station is filled and ready to go
    • doing your side-work properly so you set the next shift up for success
    • clearing the table when ready (this is not just the busser’s job)
  2. A great server Introduces themselves –
    • I had one of my servers recently tell me that they didn’t want to introduce themselves because it felt a bit much like working at Chili’s. I told them – You should introduce yourself because it gives a warm and welcoming feeling to your guests. This is the basis of starting a connection to up-selling.
    • When someone is standing overtop of you – you are already feeling a bit prickled ( you are uncomfortable because you are placed in a vulnerable position), the introduction makes you feel a bit more at ease.
  3. Smile –
    • Smiling does a lot. I’m not talking about looking like the Cheshire¬†Cat from Alice in Wonderland but you do need to smile when you take care of people. It makes them feel important and that you are there to help them.
  4. Preferences, Sensitivities, and Allergies –
    • It seems like everyone has an allergy of some sort. I tell my servers when they introduce themselves always start with “Welcome to ____________, my name is Hannah. I’ll be taking care of you tonight. Are there any preferences, sensitivities, or allergies I need to be aware of?” This immediately sets the tone for guests. They know you, they can trust you, and you have attention to detail. I have seen an increase in my servers tips when they use this on tables vs when they don’t. To be clear – a preference is like a diet – the customer is adhering to it but will not have an allergic reaction, a sensitivity – they may have a minor reaction but it won’t be bad – they can handle cross-contaimination, an allergy – they cannot have any cross-contaimination – it will result in a severe allergic reaction. This needs to be stated on the ticket to the kitchen as well and the manager should be made aware.
  5. Know your menu –
    • Make sure that you as the server know the menu. You know what is going into the dishes, what the kitchen can change. Be aware of the time frame – if it’s a rush – the kitchen may not want to change it. Make sure you know the bar menu. If you are still learning that’s fine, always say “I’m not sure but let me check for you.” It tells them that you don’t know but you are willing to go the extra mile to find out.
  6. Mis en place –
    • I know I have mentioned it before but it bears mentioning again. ALWAYS make sure your table is prepped. This means dropping dessert spoons as soon as they order, dropping a bowl for those seafood shells, or getting a chiller set up for white wine. The bussers/runners don’t have time for it and it is your job as a server. These little things are again – attention to details that make the difference between you and other servers.
  7. Good Wine Service –
    • This is more important to me because I live and work in California. This means that almost everyone out here knows about wine and how it should be served. That being said – good wine service starts from the beginning. You should always show the label and the bottle (cupping the bottom with your hand) to the person who ordered. When they say it’s alright hold the bottom and cut below the lip. Place the trash in your apron (never on the table) – do not twist the bottle when you cut it and never hold it by the neck (even when you are removing the cork). Pour a taste for the person who ordered. When they give the nod – you can pour clockwise, ending with that same person. Place the bottle and the cork on the table (or in the chiller if it’s a white). If you are nervous about the whole process and they are quite – ask them questions that force long answers “Where are you from?” “How do you like the area?” etc. It forces them to talk and takes the pressure off you.
  8. Know How to Up-sell –
    • You don’t need to pressure anyone to buy anything, but you should know how to up-sell. If they buy two glasses of the same wine, say “I noticed you want two glasses of the same wine, would you be interested in a bottle?” When it comes to dessert – always drop the menu with a recommendation. “The Churros are my favorite – they are like eating a baby angel.” I know it sounds weird but it sticks with people. When you describe the food – describe it in such a way that it makes their mouth water. Use words like:
      • decadent
      • moist
      • full of spice
      • hints of _______
    • basically you need to act like you are a Food Network star describing the food. That’s how you sell it. People want to know what’s the best. The items that I eat all the time I say are “_______________ soul food” (Insert whatever cultural restaurant you work for – example “Mexican Soul Food”) People know terms like that and they love hearing it.
    • You eat first with your ears, then your eyes, finally you eat with your mouth.
  9. Check the Food-
    • Make sure when the food comes out it is up to their liking. As soon as it’s dropped “Everything looks ok?” and after two bites “How is it tasting?” These prevent a guest from sitting there waiting like an idiot for the server to come back, just to say it was bad.
    • If they order a steak always – ALWAYS – ask them to cut into it to make sure the temperature is correct. Wait until they have done so and it is good before you walk away.

The reality is small things like these, which might seem large at the moment, make all the difference to your guests. They are bread and butter of a servers life. These will make your guests happier – they are more likely to return to you and that restaurant, they will increase your tips, and they will increase your standing with your manager.

Remember Good service isn’t an accident – Good service is on purpose.

Have tips or tricks? Please Share! 

 

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