Anyone can be a waiter. You write down orders, deliver food and hand over a bill. However, if you want to know how to make enough tips to pay your bills, keep reading. Your personality plays an integral part in how will you are tipped. You will need to learn to be observant and adaptable to each party that you serve.
There are two different aspects of how you serve that will affect your tips. The first is the timing of the attention you give to your customers. The second is your ability to assess what types of customers are sitting at your tables. Every restaurant has different rules and service standards. You may have four tables at one and another may ask you to handle six or more. There may be a separate employee responsible for only taking out dinners. Regardless of differences, the following tips can be adhered to no matter what the rules of the establishment.
There are several important times to be in contact with your patrons:
1) The Arrival – Once a party arrives at one of your tables, wait until they are seated and prepared to pay attention to announce you are their server. Always introduce yourself by name. If you are too busy to do this at the said moment, be sure to stop at the table to say your name and explain that you will be with them shortly to take their order. This is the time when you might announce specials, take drink orders or answer any questions about the menu. Take a look at who is sitting down. If it’s an office crowd out for lunch, they will want fast service. If there are kids at the table, be sure to bring crayons and paper as soon as possible to keep them entertained and to help the parents get situated. Observing the people at your table for a minute can clue you in on how to serve them appropriately.
2) The Order – Give the party time to choose their order. The universal sign that wait staff recognizes is that the menus are closed and on the table to indicate they are ready. However, the general public isn’t aware of this rule. Use your instincts, if more than five minutes go by and they still have their heads buried in menus, stop by and ask if they have any questions, but do not ask if they are ready, as they most likely are not. If the answer is no, you can say you’ll be back when they are ready to order. When your table is ready, take orders in a clockwise manner for easy delivery of food. Look at and address the first person and say “Let’s start with you.” Do not leave this choice to your customers or you may receive too much information at once or have random orders from all over the table.
3) Delivery – Whether you have a good memory or a bad one, you are not required to remember what each person ordered, but it definitely helps. When handing out food, use a steady hand, never touch the food and always warn if a plate is hot. After all food is on the table, do not walk away, yet. Make sure everyone has looked at their food and ask if everything looks right. Follow up by asking if condiments or drink refills are needed. This will also help avoid additional trips to the table when you are trying to handle other customers.
4) The Check-In – You will want to check on your table after they have had a chance to dig in to make sure things are ok. About a quarter to halfway through the meal, ask how everything is and if they need anything. Take the time to look at each person. It only takes a second to see if they are happy with their food or not.
5) End of the meal – Once the customers are finished, ask the standard dessert or coffee question. Wait for the answer before pulling out their check. Having the check in hand only shows your impatience to get rid of them. You can always get it ready out of view, then provide when asked. When you do finally hand them the check, be sure to smile, wish them a good day and thank them for coming in. Your mother taught you manners, so use them!
Most of all, be sure to smile. Not a fake I-just-want-good-tips kind of smile, either. Each patron is a person, just like you. They are at the restaurant to avoid cooking, doing dishes and to have a good time. If you treat them as such, you will always see more tips in your pocket.