Prevention is better than cure | How To Be A Good Server Blog | <</div> Prevention is better than cure | How To Be A Good Server Blog Prevention is better than cure | How To Be A Good Server Blog

Prevention is better than cure

Prevention is better than cureAttention to detail in a restaurant is not just about how a dish looks on a plate, spotting a dirty napkin under a table, or making sure you’re opening the correct bottle of wine a table ordered.  It can, and does go a little deeper.

Our job requires a high level of attention to detail, we are expected to not only see what we see, but what our guests see too. However, things our guests don’t see could be something that they should be made aware of.

Prevention is better than cure:

Prov. It is better to try to keep a bad thing from happening than it is to fix the bad thing once it has happened.

What sparked the inspiration for writing this post was a situation I was recently in while on shift. We were coming into the rush period, and within a short amount of time the kitchen had a full board of orders. While I was out on the line looking at the mass amount of orders lining up, I checked to see where down the line my tables were, they were close to the end.

An earlier post I wrote titled “What are your kitchen times” will help you with this situation.

So after I saw what was going on in the back of house, I decided to take initiative and speak with my tables (I also informed my manager of what I was going to do). Despite that one of my tables ordered just 4 minutes ago, another table 5 minutes ago, and yet another table 7 minutes ago I went to each table and told all of them the same thing:

Sorry to interrupt, I just thought I would give you a heads up, there are a lot of orders in front of you because of some parties we have in the restaurant now, so your meals may take longer than expected, or they may not.  I’m sorry but I will do everything I can to get your meals out to you in a reasonable time.

So here’s what this did for me:

  • It gave me a starting point, which from then on I could keep my tables in constant communication to how long their meals would take, reassuring them that I would do what I could to get it out to them.
  • It allowed the guests to be mentally prepared for a potential wait, and not letting it get to a point of them having to ask impatiently “How long for our food?”.
  • It gave me some time to help buss tables, run food and drinks and do whatever I could to help quicken service.
  • It demonstrates a level of care for the guest.  It lets them know that I am paying attention and doing everything in my power to make sure they have the best experience possible.

The important thing you must do is to keep your tables informed constantly, check in with the kitchen to see how things are coming along, then go out and give your tables an update. 

Out of those three tables I told that there would be a wait on food, one of them got their meals around the normal time it would take, the other two tables took an average of 8 minutes longer than usual, all three of them thanked me for keeping them in the loop and as a result tipped very well.

I will say that not everyone you tell this to will react with such acceptance, but in all honesty I think it’s better they know sooner, and not later.

One last point about telling your tables about possible delays is to only tell them if there may actually be a wait. Don’t just throw it out there in a hope that when they get their meal in the normal time it comes off as if you were the hero that made it happen. Guests are smart and if you get caught out in your lie it doesn’t look good.



Click here to join the community of servers on How To Be A Good Server Blog’s Facebook page

Click here to follow Nathan on Twitter

Click here to leave your comment on this post

Featured image by Nathan Partyka

Related Posts

  • The power of a bar communication book (Guest post)The power of a bar communication book (Guest post) While I'm on vacation I have some guest posters who wrote something for the blog which is related to the service industry. This one comes from E.C. and it's for the bartenders out there, however this idea is also used by managers and also by some service teams. A […]
  • How to increase tips – Tip 9How to increase tips – Tip 9 Let's start this post with a quote from someone you may have heard of before. “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it's the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It's probably the most important thing in a person.” - Audrey […]
  • That can be done betterThat can be done better From restaurant to restaurant there are small differences in the ways certain things are done, like where server stations are positioned, how the coffee station is organized, how the line out back is set up etc. The restaurant should be setup and laid out so it […]

4 Comments to “Prevention is better than cure”

  1. mamamag says:

    I do this all the time. People always feel more at ease with it. I find as long as you recognise your tables ” I just have to put this order in and I will be right with you” they are generally fine. What i hate about a busy kitchen is when the food comes out not looking 100% and Im expected to serve it, knowing i would turn it away myself. Doesn’t happen often but once is enough

    • Nathan says:

      It’s true mamamag, I do understand that it’s hard at times to work at an ultra fast pace and put up food looking as perfect as it should, but hopefully whoever is running the food takes a moment to wipe a plate or at least try to make things as presentable as possible.

      I know that if a server is straight up honest with me about what’s going on, then I’m totally cool. It’s when they “guesstimate” or say “It’s coming right up” that can make it a little frustrating for people.

  2. Ava says:

    A great idea and well executed. The guest is always more appreciative when they know you actually care. 🙂

Share your comment below