While many servers take their jobs, being part of a waitstaff, lightly, an important and beneficial practice is to be prepared for your next shift. If you’ve spent any amount of time being employed as a waitress, server, bus boy, or even host or hostess, you know each day or night at work can be different. There are the super-slow Tuesday lunch shift, where you wonder why you even came in that day, to the all-hell-breaking-loose Friday night shift, where it seems like everyone is hungover, cranky, “in the weeds” and can’t spare a moment to help anyone else out who’s working the floor.
This stress and uncertainly is a big part of the reason why many servers just show up to work to get it over with. One way to practically guarantee a great shift is to leave the bad mood, the attitude and the laziness at home. You may not realize it, but having a good attitude, a sort of brightness that rubs off on other people around you, is crucial to making more money in the service industry.
I promise you, more smiles, even if you have to fake them, will equal better tips.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
A good idea is to find a “teammate” at work. Find someone who has your back and, in return, you have theirs. Help each other run food, clean tables, grab tea pitcher, fill the ice bin, etc.
Knowing you won’t be left “in the weeds” can help you stay levelheaded and make that smile you’re wearing a lot easier to keep on.
Perfect Your Greeting.
If you have a bland, robotic approach when you first greet your table, you’re basically telling your guests you have no intention of doing anything but the bare minimum to ensure they have an acceptable time. Acceptable doesn’t get you awesome tips. An awesome time gets you awesome tips. You want to immediately give your table the impression that they’re not going to have a thing to worry about while they dine except for enjoying their meal.
You’re the table’s lifeline to what they need. Make them feel confident, from the get-go, that they’re going to be taken care of. After you offer them the daily special, or make a recommendation, ask them what they’d like to drink and walk away with them knowing you won’t be disappearing. Your first exit from the table should be the beginning of the table talking glowingly about their server. This is a great start so keep it up. You want to make such a good impression, they couldn’t even fathom skimping on their tip later.
You know how you can best manage all your tables. You never want to let a table try to dictate how you do things. The minute you let a table control how you efficiently manage your table is the minute YOU LOSE CONTROL. One “difficult” table, if given the opportunity to tell you how to do your job, can lead to four difficult, unhappy tables. The end result is a butterfly effect that leaves you with a section full of unhappy tables. Unhappy tables don’t tip well.
If your customers want an appetizer, go put that order in. You can return in a short while to take their entree orders. Think about what happens, almost every time, you take the orders for both those coarses at the same time? You’ll likely end up with a table who’s not finished their appetizers when you bring out the entrees. Tables usually aren’t happy when their table is crammed tight with dishes. They may think they’re doing something smart when they order everything at once, but you’re the one who works there and you know you’re not going to let any mistakes happen. 5.
Keep those glasses full and make sure no one is without the condiments they like. When you drop of the food (or before), ask them what condiments they’d like. Doesn’t it feel horrible when you check in on a table that has been letting their food get cold while waiting on you to come back so they can ask you for steak sauce? Also, don’t forget those extra napkins! You know they want them.
After 5 or 10 minutes, after they’ve started to dig in, check in and make sure everything is to their liking. If they’re happy, give them some space. If they need something, get it for them as quickly as possible.
The Finishing Touch.
Your table is stuffed. They’ve enjoyed good food and great service. Don’t slack off now. This is the home stretch. Head on over to the table and ask, in an assuming manner as is if they definitely want some, “So, what will you be having for dessert tonight? Is it going to be the cheesecake or the tiramisu?” If they say they’re too full, ask them if they’d like to order something to take home. Express to them how you’d hate to think they’ll get hungry for a snack later and regret not having one of your delicious desserts.
If the answer is still no, let them know, if there’s nothing else you can do for them, you’ll go prepare they’re ticket and be right back. On your way to the computer, clear any remaining dishes from the table.
Drop the check off with a big smile and let them know how you hope they enjoyed their visit and hope they come back and see you really soon. Go ahead and mention how you hope you helped them have an enjoyable meal and it was a pleasure serving them. Now, walk away and don’t look back. Your tables don’t like it when they can see you watching them as they gather their method of payment. Give your table a few minutes then go check on them. If the table has left your payment in cash, and have gotten up from the table, take the book to somewhere remotely private and see how you did.
It’s tacky to open your book and count cash in front of other tables. It’s tasteless to put on any type of show if the tip is good, or isn’t very good. However much that table tipped you, don’t let it change your positive attitude with you’ve shown your other tables.
If the payment is a credit or debit card, let your table know you’ll be right back. Your table is ready to leave so be sure you run their card and get it back to them. Also, make sure you have a pen. It’s a bad move to show up to a table with their check then have to dig around for a pen. You don’t want their last impression of you to be anything less than gleaming. thank them once again then go take care of your other tables.
If you can keep this routine up, each and every shift, I’m certain you’ll see a substantial improvement in your tips.