Every server has their own tricks of their trade, and as one myself, I’ve always believed that your personality is a quintessential part of your success with customers. So, for part two of the series, I’ll run through some ways I try to add personality while serving, plus share a few of the tricks I use to sway guests to my favor.
Honesty is the Best Policy
I believe honesty is always best. But sometimes serving requires a little creativity when it comes to truth-telling. One of the hardest parts of being a server is being asked a question you either don’t know the answer to or one you do, but it may cost you valuable points with the table.
Some people flat out lie, which if you’re an expert BS-er might work, but I don’t recommend it.
When the tough questions are asked, some people flat out lie, which if you’re an expert BS-er might work, but I don’t recommend it. Instead, I suggest evasion.
For example, let’s say that you’re drawing a blank when a table asks about the ingredients in a certain dish. Instead of making up a lie, which can be dangerous, or admitting that you don’t know, which can look amateur, go with something like, “We actually just changed that on the menu, so let me check with the kitchen.” This way, you’re providing the correct answer without sacrificing your morals or your tip.
Pro-tip: Keep your cool no matter what. It’s all about retaining confidence while finding the best way to avoid showing incompetence.
Greeting Your Table
Taking control of your table right off the bat is a great way to connect with your customers and be more efficient. So, when I greet a table, the first thing I say is “Hey y’all, is this your first time joining us at [insert restaurant name here]?”
If the answer is YES, I follow up with: “if you’d like me to run over the menu I’d be more than happy to give you some suggestions or guide you on how to best access the menu.” In doing so, I’m being helpful without seeming too pushy and offering the table the option of being autonomous.
If they do want help with the menu, I start by offering a few options from each section (appetizers, entrees, desserts, drinks) that I personally enjoy and know well enough to elaborate on. By making the first move and providing suggestions you’re comfortable with, you’ll come off as knowledgeable and be providing great customer service. This is a great way to set yourself up for success.
I’m being helpful without seeming too pushy and offering the table the option of being autonomous.
If the answer is no, and they’ve been to the restaurant before, I take a more passive approach and mention, “Well, if you need any suggestions or have questions, I’m here for you.” It may seem simple but using the right verbiage here is key. You want to them to feel like they’re being taken care of without coming off as intrusive.
It seems simple, but just by peaking their interest in you, you’re building a relationship beyond guest and server. This is a prime example of using your personality to your advantage.
Relatability is Good Service
For me, good service is about the experience for the guest. By bringing a strong, vibrant personality to every table, not only are you going to enjoy your job much more but the customer will also be more likely to relax. If everyone is happy and kept entertained, it makes for easier service and makes mistakes (if they happen) more forgivable.
If everyone is happy and kept entertained, it makes for easier service.
First, I like to gauge the table. If they seem pretty carefree and I feel relatively comfortable around them, I know it’s okay to be relaxed in my service, meaning I let a bit more of my personality come through. On the flip side, if the table seems stiff or uptight, I’m much more formal in my service. This will definitely take some practice to develop, but using how you feel around a table is a good place to start.
For those more relaxed tables, a joke I sometimes like to play on someone who spilled their drink is bringing their new one in a kid’s cup. It’s simple but it’s a hit and the table will love you for it.
Dealing With Difficult Customers
Be sure to give these guests extra attention and go out of your way to show that you are giving them that extra effort. Be obvious about it because, usually, they just want to be treated better than anyone else.
Make sure to highlight what special actions you’re doing for them. For instance, “Miss, I went ahead and put the sauce on the side in case you didn’t want this dish to be too spicy.”
Taking special care of difficult guests, or the person who is paying or in charge will ensure your success, their trust in you and most likely will lead to a higher tip average.
When a customer is overly rude or extremely needy, kill them with kindness.
When a customer is overly rude or extremely needy, kill them with kindness. Be OVERLY apologetic and kind. For instance, if a customer were to say, “Um, excuse me, I asked for a LIME, not a LEMON in my vodka soda!” My response would be, “Oh my god, miss, I am SOOO sorry. That is ENTIRELY my fault, I’m so sorry, I’ll get that for you right away.”
You still want to seem genuine but take an overzealous approach. It’ll either cater to their ego or make them feel a bit ridiculous for fussing about something so minute. Either way, you’ll come out on top!
Dropping the check is a scary, crucial part of service. First and foremost, you must be careful not to make your guests feel rushed, but also make sure you’re not dragging your feet.
Check for cues, like napkins on the table or pushed away plates. Another sign that the table is ready for the check is if one, or all, of the guests at the table are looking around the restaurant. They’re probably waiting for you!
Also when dropping the check, I like to say a little something nice.
Also when dropping the check, I like to say a little something nice. Depending on the table, I add “Thanks for not sucking,” or “If all my tables were like you then I’d have a very easy job.” For a more formal approach, I go with “You were a delight, I truly enjoyed having you.”
There is a great range of things to say to your guests at this point, but remember, it’s crucial to first read your table as to appropriate the right choice of words.
It must be noted that these are my personal tricks and are catered to my personality. It is important to find what works for you and how to best pair your personality with your tables’. I hope these tricks and lessons help you be the best server you can be!
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