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Working in hospitality – Waiter/ waitress training

Updated on December 9, 2009

When you work in hospitality, you want to do your job as well as you possibly can, because this means more tip money. In this article I will try to explain some waiter/ waitress training pointers.

The most basic thing about waitressing is keeping your guests happy. If you keep a smile on their face, they will leave the restaurant with a good feeling. They will tip you, they will come back, and they will tell others to go eat there too.

When a guest enters the restaurant, try to acknowledge them within 10 seconds. This may seem like a short time, but go stand somewhere and count. It feels quite long. If you are busy with other guests or carrying plates or drinks, just smile or wave at them, or tell them you will be with them shortly.

Walk up to them and welcome them to the restaurant. Ask if they had a booking, and seat them, either at their booked table or a free table if they didn’t book. Give them a menu and offer them some water. Always offer sparkling or still. People usually ask for tap water, but hey, you tried to upsell. Sometimes they will want to order other drinks straight away as well. Other times they need a minute to look at the menu first.

After you bring out the drinks, come back to order food. Have a quick look at the table first. Are they still checking their menu’s? Give them some more time. Did they already put their menu’s down and decided on their meals. Go and take their orders.

Always offer them entrees first and point out any specials you have going on. They may not want entrees, but you mentioning it will make them look at it again. And they might just order some anyway. With the main courses always try and offer some sides for the table as well. Like a salad, or some extra fries. These are often appreciated by the guests, and it will make your manager love you for making more money off your tables. Don’t be too pushy though, as guests will never appreciate this. Guests will often ask you questions about the food or the drinks. Make sure you know the answers to these questions. And if you don’t, never make something up, just go and ask your manager or the chef. People will also often ask you what you recommend. So tell them your favourite dish and why it is so special. You will find most people will go for whatever you recommend.

When they receive their food, go and make sure everything is ok and wish them a good meal. Also offer new drinks. If something turns out to be wrong with the meal, ask them what and why, and take the meal back. Either let the kitchen re-do the meal, or ask them if they want something else. Sometimes things go wrong, orders get mixed up, food is not hot enough, or burned. This happens, don’t beat yourself up over it. Just apologize to the guest and try to fix it, either by offering them something else, giving them free coffee or desert, or something else. I often find that if you can fix something to a guests satisfaction, they leave happier than when everything went ok. And it certainly does not always cost you your tip. Just stay calm and friendly.

Wait until everyone has finished their meals, before you start clearing the table. Ask them if they enjoyed it and then take away their plates. After you have cleared the entire table, ask them if they would like some desserts. If so, order them. If not, ask them if they want anything else, like coffee or something else to drink. Often, if they don’t want anything they will ask you for the bill now. When they ask for the bill, make sure you get it to them as soon as possible.

All through the night you have to make sure you are visible for the guests, so they can easily call you if they want anything. Even if there is no one to specifically attend to, just go around collecting empty glasses, or stand at the door to greet people. And of course, always serve with a smile!

I hope these pointers will help you out. For me they work great, and I love waitressing. I love talking and joking with the guests, my collegues, and I love the large amounts of tip I take home at the end of the night. All in all, I love working in hospitality!


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    • profile image

      Laura 6 years ago

      Very nice, thank you

    • Mieka profile image

      Mieka 7 years ago

      Thanks Tammy, that is very nice of you. I'm glad the article helped you out, and hopefully it will help many others too! Good luck with your work as a server!

    • profile image

      Tammy Hinesley 7 years ago

      I think your article is outstanding.I am looking to find articles to help servers gain more knowledge and have useful information to better themselves and their career.Thank you for your insights,this will be helpful to help other servers

    • profile image

      Brayden  7 years ago

      Thank you so much for this. It is a great column and greatly taken into account. Thank you once again.