The reputation of any restaurant depends upon its service, servers, and the rest of the staff. The service that servers provide has a great impact on customers and their experience at any restaurant. Even if the food a restaurant serves is delicious, a rude or inexperienced server can ruin the whole dining experience.
Following are some common mistakes made by servers that they must look out for and improve:
1. Bad Communication
When a customer enters a restaurant, the first mistake a server can make is not communicating and greeting them well. The server may use the wrong words for greeting, or the way of greeting can be quite unwelcoming. For example, instead of saying, “Welcome to (restaurant name), my name is (server’s name), how many people will be dining here today?” a server says, “How many people will be eating here today;” it would seem pretty unfriendly and unwelcoming.
Greetings should be made in a very friendly and cooperative manner so that the customers feel at ease. Moreover, for better communication, servers should be able to keep eye contact, smile, and be friendly with the customers. They should remember that the first impression of any place is established by how its staff greets their customers.
2. Paying Unequal Attention to Different Customers
It is usually unintentional; however, it can leave a bad image of the server on customers. Sometimes servers pay more attention to good-looking or opposite-sex customers and ignore others. It can be a big problem for a restaurant, as customers who are ignored may feel bad about the server’s behavior. Therefore, servers must ensure equal respect and attention for all customers.
3. Being Unable to Recommend a Meal
Servers can never recommend a meal that they have never tried themselves, so we can blame the management for not guiding their staff about the menu properly. Every restaurant management should share the crafting methods they used in their menu so that the servers know how to describe the dishes on the menu.
It takes both money and time to train the staff. If the management cannot do so, they shouldn’t complain when servers are unable to suggest any meal, either.
4. Mixing up Orders or Taking Wrong Orders
This is the craziest mistake a server can make, but sometimes it’s not even their fault; it can be the chef’s mistake too. No matter whose fault it is, a server must not let that wrong order reach the table. It is better to write down the whole order properly instead of relying on your memory.
Today, technology has advanced so much, and such mistakes don’t really happen when servers take orders through the restaurant POS system. Hence, these mistakes can be avoided by providing the staff with such tools and proper training.
5. Unsolicited Opinions
Being friendly is different from giving unsolicited opinions. A server shouldn’t go to a table and start chatting about their personal life with them. For example, asking two customers about their relationship or going up to them who is eating alone and saying, “just one?”
Instead, servers should be more careful about what they say or ask. They should stay professional and ask only the questions related to their job.
Sometimes servers don’t focus much on their hygiene, which is enough to gross out the customers. It can be the body odor or dirty nails that can make customers question the restaurant’s hygiene and its staff. A server has to be present in front of a customer as he/she is the one representing the quality and hygiene of a place. Therefore, they need to be careful about the way they look and smell.
Restaurant management should also keep the hygiene standards high and make their servers look clean and sleek. Moreover, servers should avoid touching their face and wiping hands with clothes.
7. Not Being Able to Understand the Tables
Different people have different needs; just like that, a friend’s group needs more attention in a restaurant than a couple who needs more time to themselves. Servers often misunderstand situations and end up making customers feel ignored. This is why it is necessary for a server to know whether certain customers need personal space or their attention.
8. Taking the Glass Away to Re-Fill
Taking away the glasses from customers’ tables to re-fill can make them uncomfortable. It is better to bring the water or drink to the table and re-fill in front of them. Moreover, servers should remember that glasses should be held by the lower half. Touching the top of glass makes it seem unhygienic, and customers may not want to drink in such glasses either.
9. Making the Restaurant Look like it is closed before the Closing Hours
Servers get too relaxed during the closing hours and often make it look like the restaurant is closed even when it isn’t. They should stay attentive until the last customer has finished his/her meal. There is no doubt that staff wants to leave for home, but they cannot make a customer feel uneasy. Moreover, servers shouldn’t be rude or negative towards customers who come in a little time before closing, and most importantly, they should not refuse to take an order. As a server, a person must avoid doing things like:
- Turning the music off
- Turning the lights off while customers are still eating
- Placing chairs on tables
- Restock items on tables with customers
It’s better to wait for a few minutes than ruin someone’s experience at your restaurant.
10. The Do’s and Don’ts of a Server
For a mistake-free service, the following are some things a server should do and avoid respectively.
- Keep track of time while taking orders (it is better to wear a watch)
- Go the extra mile if needed
- Apologize if a mistake happens
- Give the customers enough time to decide what they want to order
- Stay friendly, hygienic, and pleasant
- Don’t try too hard to impress the customers
- Don’t point out a person (in a group) who isn’t eating or drinking
- Don’t assume the person you think is going to pay will pay
- Don’t pass comments on the bill
- Don’t offer anything for free that isn’t free in real
Working as a server can be full of complications, and it can be quite stressful for many. However, restaurant management should understand and help their staff to overcome these difficulties. Proper training and access to the right tools can decrease such mistakes. If they don’t make the servers work for extra time (without paying extra) and avoid changing menus, again and again, it can be a lot easier to provide quality service.
Moreover, if a server somehow makes a mistake, instead of punishing or firing him/her, it’s better to make them understand and correct the mistake. It’s compassion that can help servers and other staff does better than before.