How to be a good waiter
- The kitchen is your home base. Every sortie should encompass three things: (1) bring something from the kitchen to a table, (2) collect information from a customer, and (3) return something from a table back to the kitchen. Making each sortie a three-part trip effectively triples your efficiency, and you will suddenly discover you can cover many more tables, with better service, and less effort.
- Your most important skill is your peripheral vision. Get in the habit of always looking around; you never know who might be signaling you, and for what. Peripheral vision is especially necessary when you are in a hurry, because there are few things more aggravating to the diner than having his or her waiter zoom past obliviously on the way to some other assignment.
- Periodically make a circuit of the room past each table. Don't stop and hover; just slow briefly and glance at each table to give its diners a chance to catch your eye if they want something.
- Be friendly but not intrusive. Let the customer define the relationship. Some customers want speed; others want to slow down. Some are extroverts who want to talk with you; others are animatedly absorbed in their own conversation and do not want to be distracted; still others are contemplative and just want quiet. Adapt your style to theirs.
- Be helpful. You are the expert who knows the menu; the customer is the neophyte. But in being helpful, do not condescend; customers should be presumed to be ignorant but intelligent (regardless of contrary evidence).
- Convey a sense that you are having a good time. Customers' moods are influenced by their waiter's moods.
- If asked for advice about the menu, be accurate. Make recommendations as if you were advising your best friend how to find the best value. Don't encourage a diner to have something you think will disappoint him or her.
- If you pass a table whose diners need something but you are too busy to stop, acknowledge them and say you will be right back. People wait much more patiently when they have been acknowledged.