Waitstaff Training: Serving from the Guest Perspective


One of the tricks to good service is anticipating what guests want before they know what they want. In your waitstaff training, remind team members that they don’t have to be mind readers, but they do need to search for cues. Go over these restaurant training tips at your next team meeting:

  • Empty glass, full glass. We all know what empty glasses signal, but how often do we offer a soft drink or water after the second (or third) cocktail is declined? And what about full glasses? When wine glasses (or other cocktails) are still full minutes later, ask the customer if the drink was satisfactory or if she would like something else.
  • Stuffed briefcase or little black dress? Business dinners often want the meal served quickly so there’s time and space to go over work issues after the dishes are cleared. Conversely, people meeting socially often prefer to spread out the dining experience and enjoy each other before the food arrives.
  • Little people, fast food. When young children are present you can assume that Mom and Dad want the food there as soon as possible. If the adult entrees will take longer, ask if they’d like the children’s orders more quickly. If that’s not possible, bring out bread, crackers or other items to hold them over.
  • Ask. “Are you in a hurry to get to work?”, “Is this a special evening?” and simply, “How can I help make this a great night for you?”
  • Two-bite check back. Check back within two bites to make sure the food suits each guest. While you’re at it, scan the table for condiments needed before the guest has to ask.

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