How to be the Best Restaurant Server – 25 Tips and Tricks (Proven)

While waiting tables during college, I paid off all of my student loans and saved for a down payment on a property. I learned how to be the finest restaurant waitress by myself.

Waiting tables has a lot of benefits and a lot of downsides. Let’s start with the advantages of waiting tables:

  • You get paid right away if you work a shift, get paid in tips, and then take home money.
  • I prefer not to work at a desk since I enjoy being on my feet and doing exercise.
  • Over time, you will establish friendships with regular customers after meeting incredible people.
  • You have complete control over your fate; the harder and smarter you work, the more money you will earn.
  • Working with people allows you to meet and interact with a variety of intriguing people on a daily basis.
  • You get paid in tips that you can take home with you in addition to the money you would make on an hourly basis.
  • Holidays As people are celebrating the holidays, they tend to spend and tip more, leaving you with more spare income.
  • Flexibility Once you’ve gained the requisite experience to work as a server, you can use it to work in almost any restaurant. These establishments are always on the lookout for servers, and you get to choose where you wish to work.
  • While many corporate professions demand you to remain available even after you leave work, servers are only required to be available when they are on the job. The remainder of the time is theirs to do with as they wish.
  • Free or discounted food and drinks A large number of servers receive free or discounted food and drinks on a daily basis from a variety of establishments.
  • Even if you don’t have much experience, server training is simple and the entry barriers are low.

Nevertheless, not everything about working as a server is as appealing as these features suggest. The following are some of the disadvantages of working as a restaurant server:

  • Working hours are inconvenient; you will almost certainly be required to work evenings, weekends, and holidays. The majority of restaurants are open all year.
  • Meet some obnoxious diners who will test your patience and limits.
  • Waiters’ salaries are not particularly high. If you work part-time, you will only be able to cover your monthly costs and will not be able to save much money.
  • Night shifts If you work at a 24-hour diner, you may be forced to work occasional night shifts for extra money, which might be exhausting.
  • Long shifts can be mentally and physically draining. You’ll be on your feet all day, which means you’ll be fatigued and lethargic at the end of the day.
  • Replacements Because servers are replaceable, you must be careful not to make too many mistakes on the job.
  • Benefits As a server, you may not receive any benefits if you work part-time or have recently started working full-time.

How to Wait Tables

If you’re new to waiting tables, take a look at this quick overview.

25 Ways on How to Be a Great Server

I learnt how to wait tables properly. Being a wonderful server proved to be a consistent success for me every night I worked and at every restaurant.

1. Tips are Unpredictable

When a party sits at your table, don’t judge or guess your tip. I’ve been surprised numerous times when I believed someone was going to leave me a very high or very low tip. Always treat everyone as if they were your guest, and you’ll win more often than you lose.

It’s a great way to last at any serving job if you keep your expectations in check. While you should always be kind and nice to everyone who goes through the door, you shouldn’t expect people to be as generous with their money as you are with your warmth.

2. Find the Weakest Link at the Table

It’s a mixed blessing to have a large party in your sector. On the one hand, your tables are full, and you’ll probably get a good tip. Parties, on the other hand, have a tendency to order slowly and linger. The most difficult element is convincing them to place an order so you can begin the process of supplying food.

My strategy is to identify the table’s weakest link. There are usually two or three different talks going on at any given time, and someone is always caught in the center of both or neither. Approach that person first and take their order. Do not inquire, Are you ready to place an order? Instead, suggest something like, “What would you like to have for dinner tonight?” They are delighted to speak with you and place their order because they are hoping to strike up a conversation over dinner. Then everyone else begins to take their menus, and the dominoes begin to fall into place.

This is an important psychological strategy to remember, and it will need you to use your observational skills. But, be careful not to appear aggressive and ask people to order too quickly, as this may lower the amount of tip they want to leave when you’re finished.

3. Turning Tables is from Beginning to End

I am always shocked and aggravated on how long it takes for a server to give me my check and process my credit card for my meal.  Service speed and efficiency are from beginning to end.

A excellent waitress will greet you and take your order right away, but many struggle to collect money. The more tables you turn, the more money you’ll make. Allowing the payment to be collected should not prevent you from turning the tables. Keep track of which tables have been cleared and arrive with the bill when they are finished.

4. Make Connections, Share Stories, Conversation Starters

Make an effort to get to know your fellow diners and form a tiny bond with them. If they have children, mention that you have children as well. If they’re going to see a movie, tell them about the one you just saw and provide a recommendation. If they’re sporting a college jersey, strike up a conversation about athletics or anything like.

They may appear only once, or they may become regular diners. It’s possible that you’ll both realize you have something in common.

I met the President of a non-profit organization while waiting tables, and he eventually provided me grant money every year while I was in college. When I finished from college, I met another gentleman who provided an introduction for my first corporate job.

5. Efficiency Doesn’t Mean Rushed

There is a distinct distinction between being an efficient server when serving a table and rushing a guest out.

When it comes to efficiency, that means welcoming them right away, bringing their drinks right away, answering questions and taking their order when they’re ready, taking a dessert order when their entrée are finished, and collecting payment once their meal is finished. On their table, do not stack courses and plates. If they haven’t eaten their salad or appetizer, don’t bring their main and clog the table with more plates. It’s tacky, and it irritates diners unless they expressly state that they’re in a rush.

I understand that timing in the kitchen can be difficult at times. Food might fly out the kitchen window on slow nights, and it can take a long time on busy weekends. By gaining experience, you can learn how to be the finest restaurant server.

6. Punctuality Pays

You will be one of management’s top employees if you arrive on time for your shift, wear a pressed and clean uniform, and don’t miss shifts. I consistently arrived 15-20 minutes early, had my shirt professionally pressed at the cleaners, and never missed a shift. In exchange, I was always given the greatest shifts, sections, and a higher hourly base income.

Additionally, don’t be one of those persons that arrives an hour late every year when daylight savings time ends. When the clocks fall back, those same people don’t show up an hour earlier.

7. All Employees are Equal

Every member of your team plays a role in your success. Who sits at your table is decided by the host and hostess. For example, a ten-person party is planned, and the hostess selects who will attend. On a sluggish night, they may make or break you.

Cooks are frequently underappreciated, despite the fact that they are the hardest workers in the restaurant and earn less than the majority of the workforce. Respectfully treat them! The cook is your best friend when you make a mistake or have a challenging custom-made request. These might mean the difference between a customer waiting for food and a bad tip.

During the busiest evenings, the manager creates the timetable and chooses who works the best portions.

8. Remember the Past Customers

Most eateries rely on repeat customers to stay afloat. The finest servers will learn the names and faces of their regular clients. I used to have a large number of repeat clients. As I saw them pull up on the street, I’d dash to the kitchen and prepare them their usual drinks, which I’d have ready for them when they went in.

Humans enjoy being remembered and honored. They ate it up because it reminded them of the show Cheers. My tips were always higher because I made them feel special and valued as individuals.

9. Be Honest, Very Honest…Just Don’t Let the Chef Hear You

When a server tells me everything on the menu is delicious, my wife knows I cringe. Not every item is a ten, no matter how good a restaurant or chef is. There must be some decent food. Customers should know!

There were always one or two fair specials, which I informed diners about. They were grateful for the heads up. The diner would tell me how much they valued my candor.

Why wouldn’t I want them to try the most delectable dishes on the menu? If they order a nice dinner, I’ll almost certainly get a higher tip, and hopefully they’ll return. It’s a win-win situation!

1o. Knowledge Builds Respect

Know what’s on the menu. Understand substances and sensitivities, especially in today’s world. Find out which recipes contain peanuts, sesame, shellfish, dairy, and other ingredients. Instead of guessing, know.

Also, no one wants to hear your personal food preferences or dietary habits.  For example, if someone asks you what’s good on the menu, don’t say, “I don’t eat meat …I don’t like fish …and don’t like this type of food.”  You immediately lose credibility and the diner wishes they had a different server.

I’d prefer a different, better server that knows the menu and enjoys their employer’s cuisine.

11. Don’t Disappear

Don’t disappear for long periods of time. Constantly keep an eye on your surroundings and check with your tables at natural vantage spots.

Check to see if they require a drink refill before the entree arrives. Check to check whether everything tastes well and if they require any additional items, such as condiments, once the meal is served. Bring the check and collect payment as soon as the dessert is finished.

Most folks are eager to leave as soon as their lunch is finished. Slow them down so you can turn the tables on them. A great server will be able to determine the appropriate service pace for each table.

12. Never Be Empty Handed

I learnt early on that you should never leave the kitchen without something. You can always take an empty dish or drink from a table, I assure it.

I also promise that you should never return to your tables without a pitcher of water or another item that your tables require. Restaurant servers who are at the top of their game will save time and reduce the number of steps taken around the floor. You can improve customer satisfaction by bringing and removing items from tables.

13. Set Goals

It is necessary for everyone to begin somewhere. Set monetary goals slowly and figure out how you’ll get there. You’ll be shadowing other servers when you first start at each restaurant. Keep a careful eye on the best servers to see what sets them apart from the rest.

It isn’t rocket science, but there is a method to being the best restaurant waiter.

14th. Don’t try to make money by hustling expensive items.

Don’t be the server who exclusively suggests the priciest items on the menu. It’s obnoxious and transparent. Instead than focusing just on the lobster and steaks, highlight the top items from each menu segment.

You’ll get a lot more respect as a result of your efforts, and you’ll end up with more satisfied customers and higher tips.

15. Ask Manager to Treat Regular Customers

From time to time, you’ll need to recognize regular customers. Demonstrate your gratitude. Inquire with your boss about purchasing a second round of drinks for them. Bring them a complimentary dessert? Most good restaurant managers will agree with your suggestion because they know how to treat regular customers.

Finally, it keeps frequent customers coming back, encourages them to refer their friends to the restaurant, and increases your tips.

16. Don’t Say, No, If You Can Say, Yes

This proposal is far easier to make than it is to carry out.

I once took my children to a casual eatery where they served grilled pork chop sandwiches and burgers. We took our little children, but there was no children’s menu. We asked them to make grilled cheese sandwiches for us. We don’t have that on the menu, said the server. Do you have buns for the burgers, I inquired? Do you have any cheese on hand? Can you make a grilled cheese sandwich with those ingredients?

Even if he was still bewildered, someone in the back had figured it out in a way. Try to accommodate the customer’s wishes if you have the ingredients.

17. All Servers That Need Staff Must Ask For Help

Wine might be difficult to understand. If a diner asks what wine goes well with a specific meal and you are unsure, inquire. Request a different server. As the management of your restaurant? Inquire with the restaurant’s owner or chef.

If a guest is knowledgeable enough to inquire, they will be able to tell if you are leading them in the incorrect direction. I’ve received a lot of wine education over the years, but I’m still no expert. It’s not about ego; it’s about the satisfaction of the guests.

18. Full Plate is No Good 

You are not a robot, but a server. If you see someone not eating their meal and you’re passing by, inquire as to whether it’s good or if something is wrong. I’m amazed at how many terrible servers pick up a full plate of unfinished food and don’t say anything after everyone else has finished.

You may not agree with the answer or the reason for their dislike of the food, but you must listen and correct the problem. If you don’t prepare the food and have the experience right away, no one wins. The restaurant customer is unlikely to return, and you are likely to receive a lower tip as a result of their dissatisfaction.

19. Stop the Blame Game

When something goes wrong, the most typical excuse is to blame the kitchen. Customers with more experience are wiser than that. Most folks have heard that explanation enough times when eating out. Consumers can typically figure out who is to blame.

That doesn’t matter in the end; your tip is on the line. Quit blaming others and address the issue right away. A good server will aim to prevent problems from arising in the first place.

20. Be Aware of Guests Timing

Allow the customer, within reason, to set the pace. A large number of clients want to eat at a speedier pace. Some diners want to rush because they are going to see a movie, need to get somewhere else, or are dining with children and are short on time. Be aware and, if required, inquire.

It’s beneficial to both of you if they want to speed up the service. The faster you turn the table, the more tables you can turn and the more money you will make.

21. Write Down the Order

You’d be surprised at how many folks I’ve dealt with that fail to record the customer’s order. I’ve witnessed servers take a 2-1/2 course meal for an 8-10 person group without taking a single order. What are the chances that the waiter will recall all 16 to 30 choices perfectly? There aren’t many of them.

By failing to write down the orders, bad servers believe they are impressing the guests. It’s especially stupid when the orders are wrong 99% of the time. The guests are particularly irritated because it could have been avoided.

22. Repeat the Customers Order Back

Although it may seem obvious, you should repeat (or parrot) the customer’s food and beverage order to the guest. This lowers the chances of you misinterpreting the order. It also increases the guest’s trust in you and their ability to receive exactly what they wanted.

23. Place the Check in the Middle of the Table

Too many servers have placed the check in front of the spouse alone. The spouse becomes enraged because she had intended to pay. It’s the twenty-first century, and men and women both foot the bill. Here are some ideas:

  • At their birthday supper, the husband is treating them.
  • Perhaps one person is in charge of all financial matters.
  • Perhaps someone left their wallet at home.
  • They’re on their first date, and they’re splitting the bill.

There are numerous reasons why you should not assume that one individual or another is responsible for paying the payment. When it comes time to pay and leave a tip, you want to finish strong. Don’t insult anyone at the tables.

Put the check in an inconspicuous location.

24. Smile and Speak with Enthusiasm

According to Forbes Magazine, you have “.”  You don’t want to be perceived as boring, lackluster, or disinterested from the start.

With a smile and a warm and enthusiastic hello, greet your table. Of course, don’t go overboard or you’ll come across as phony.

25. How to be a Good Waitress When Busy

If you’re too busy, ask another server or your manager for assistance. They don’t get it when the host and hostesses seat numerous people in your second at the same time. Then you have to greet three tables at once and take three drink orders…all at once. It’s nearly impossible to do so without upsetting the final table, who have been waiting for a long time to be greeted.

Excellent servers who require assistance will inquire. Because it has happened to everyone, the rest of the staff understands completely. It’s referred to as “being in the weeds” in the restaurant industry. Get out of the weeds as soon as possible and seek assistance before the diners become irritated.

If you want your diners to have a great time, it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for assistance.

I’ve seen other good servers make these mistakes.

  • Pour champagne on the floor and let it run.

Please provide your thoughts on how to be the best restaurant waiter in the comments section below.


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