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Restaurant Customers Are Our Focus

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Tips On The Topics Of Do’s & Don’ts for Servers

There are so many rules that a restaurant server should always follow.  No matter what style of restaurant that they work in.  Many servers don’t realize that it’s the smallest things during the course of service that can actually raise their tip percentage.  I’ve compiled a HUGE list, and am sharing on some small tidbits of knowledge to help.  I consider a lot of these guidelines to be basic in knowledge, but you would be surprised about how many Servers do NOT follow.  Most of this information is mainly geared towards casual and fine dining restaurants, but translates to any restaurant genre.  I look forward to your feedback!

General Guidelines And Procedures

  • When taking an order, always look the customer directly in the eyes, and stand erect with good posture.
  • Never lean or write on the table.
  • Never crouch down on your knees.
  • Never handle a glass by the rim with your hand over the drinking surface.  Do you want someone touching your glass where your lips are placed upon?
  • Never handle silverware with your hand over the eating surface.
  • When handling plates, never let your hand touch the eating surface or the food.  I use the “knuckle” approach.  By using the knuckle of your thumb and fingers spread underneath the rim of the plate, you delete the usage of your fingers.  It actually becomes sturdier in your hands.
  • Help your guests as much as possible. Be aware of the area’s favored bars, and know what movies or activities are going on nearby.  This helps create a rapport with your clients at the table.  This will also help create a repeat clientele for you and your section.  I’ve had people wait for a table in my section to open up to dine with me for my service!
  • Know your schedule. Know what time to be here for each shift.  This is the most basic of any job!  Just because you’re a server, doesn’t mean that you should show up late!  Do it at my restaurant, and you will get a crappy section.  Especially if it’s happened more than once.
  • Know what the daily specials are and what they cost.  Your guests will ask you this time and time again!  I also despise the usage of the word specials.  It gives the feeling that the food is on Sale, so I used the phrase “Today’s features are:”  Simple verbiage makes a huge difference.
  • Know the history of the restaurant.
  • Know the managers.
  • Avoid any long conversations at any particular table. This will only upset your other customers.  They will understand if you have to go!!  Do Not sacrifice service!
  • Clear your mind of everything except work when you walk in the door. When you’re at the table make sure you’re mind is at the table too. Guests can tell when their server is not totally mentally present with them at the table and it has a negative impact on the guests’ experience and the server’s tip.  Your attitude and appearance are your money makers!  Keep yourself in check and in line.
  • If you get behind, ask for assistance. You’ll never get in trouble for asking!  Your co-workers and management team are there to help you!  This is NOT a sign of weakness, but a sign that you’re striving for a great service.
  • Keep yourself geared up so that you are ready for any rush. Restaurants get the most of their complaints during the Restaurant’s slow period.
  • Don’t ever stand around or lean on anything. You can always be cleaning. Running clean-up, wiping shelves or the sales station, taking bus tubs to the back, etc. A server never goes into, or leaves, the kitchen empty handed. Full hands in, full hands out!
  • Always be sure that all your food is secure when you leave the kitchen. Never attempt to carry too much. Two safe trips are better than one catastrophe.
  • Always ENTER the kitchen keeping to the right. Always walk quickly, but never run. This will prevent serious accidents and extra work for everyone.
  • If an order is delayed in the kitchen, first inform the manager, and then tell your customers. The manager will go to the table and explain the situation as well. Get your stories straight. Never hide from your customers.  Do you want to be lied to?  Of course not!  Tell them the truth, and it will actually appease everyone!
  • Learn to use your time wisely. When in your station, check all the tables before going back to the kitchen. Don’t go to one table then go to the kitchen. Consolidate your trips. Fill up all glasses in your whole station, clear all plates, and then go on to something else. This is the secret to running volume and making more money.  Once you get the hang of it, you will be a multi-tasking king or queen!
  • Always try to take out complete orders. If the entire order is ready except for a side order, like a vegetable, take out the entrees and have someone follow you in a few seconds with the side order. Don’t let the entrees get cold because of a side order. Everything goes out hot.
  • Always remember that Ladies are First!  First to have order taken from, first to be served (food or beverage), and first to be cleared!
  • If your entire section clears at one time, don’t take orders from four or five new hits at once. You’ll end up running yourself to death for twenty minutes, and then have nothing to do for ten. Take one order, then go to the next table and tell them you will be right back to take THEIR order. Take drinks and appetizers out to the first table, and then go to the others. Never take three or four salads out t one time. This only means that you will have three or four orders of hot food coming out at the same time, which would be impossible to get out all at once. Think ahead.
  • Do not swamp the kitchen with a 1,000 orders at one time!  You actually have a lot of control, whether you know it or not!  You can literally kill a kitchen and create a long wait time.  Learn how to time your kitchen with who is on staff, the time it takes to make food, and the courses that your guests are on.  Fire your courses appropriately!

You won’t believe how patient people will be if they just see you. Don’t hide from your customers. If you use this method in taking orders, you will find that your food will be out more consistently on time, and you will give much better service over all. You will have
more time to converse with your customers. People look for more than just good service and food when they go out today. They want a total dining experience. They look for that little extra personal touch which only you as their server can give them. Never
spend more than two minutes away form your station. No server ever made any money in the kitchen. Anytime you wait on a customer, put yourself in their place and ask yourself if you would be happy with the job you did at that table. If one person asks for
something at a table, make sure you ask everyone at the table if they too would like that item. This will save you a lot of extra trips. If one person requests more tea, ask everyone at the table if they need more tea.  This is multi-tasking in its finest moment!  Always try to kill 2 birds (or 5 or 6) with 1 stone.  Make life easier for you by multi-tasking.  A lot of these steps will save you a lot of valuable time and energy.  Ever heard of not “Working harder, but think smarter?”  It’s true!  Look at your end results, and you can thank me later!


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