In my 25 years’ career as a waiter, I have learned that you only need a handful of the right tools in your pocket to make you stand out above the rest, and make the most money, too.
First, we need to start putting everything in writing. And we need to start with a mantra; something to get you going, fire-up, and keep you on the cutting edge during your shift.
You see, most people don’t have a plan. They don’t know where they are going, and then they wonder why things aren’t working out for them. So, we should always get into the right frame of mind before we even get started.
This is my mantra, and you are welcome to use it,
“Stage, you are about to go on stage… are you prepared? Yes I am!”
Fires me up every time!
And, minimizes the chances of me making mistakes because my mindset is right. Repeating it to yourself just before your first table will give you great momentum and the right spirit to serve.
Here are a few other (basic, but necessary) things I would like you to start doing that will make you a better waiter:
a). Greet guests within 90 seconds
b). Ask water preference
c). Write it down
d). Get water and deliver it
e). Ask for cocktail or wine preference
f). Write it down
g). Get cocktail/wine and deliver it
h). Refill water
i). Talk about the specials for the evening
j). Inquire, and make sure the guest is satisfied with their choice of cocktail/wine
k). Ask guest if they have questions you can answer for them about the specials
l). Take the order
m). Write down the order (in detail)!
n). Refill water
o). Ask if guest cares for a fresh cocktail/wine
p). Etc etc
I am not going to throw everything at you in this article, but here is my point: knowing what you have to do every simple step of the way mitigates errors and makes you a better waiter. Then, the guests will come to rely on you because you are the one that always gets it right. No errors.
Yes, sticking to a framework and writing things down is a very rote process, I know. But, in about 30 days you will become a force of nature. Near perfect service – every time!
You will have command of the dining room floor, and your guests, manager and owners will notice, too.
Charlie Parker said it best:
“Master the instrument, master the music, then forget all that and just play.”
And my dream for you is that you get so good and refined at the art and science of being a restaurant server that all you do is play. Meaning, that your work is so precise, refined, and carefully crafted that your service literally slows down (but it’s actually speeding up), and you can see every single detail – to the point of being so far-seeing that you turn into an orchestra conductor. The person on the podium that everyone is watching; waiting for your next step.
One final note: treat your section as if it were your very own business. Look after it. Care for it. Make love to it. Be a team player, always, but never rely on anyone to tell you this and that. Rely on yourself to be fully aware and conscious – at all times.
Scan. Scan. Scan. Scan the room and your section. You want to get to the point of having your fingers on the pulse of your section i.e. your business, at all times!
Conclusion: Being a better waiter means having better habits. Having better habits means that you will stand head-and-shoulders above the rest. Guests, managers and owners will always want you around because you make their lives easier. Because when you are around, there are no worries.
In my course The Valdivieso Method: Discover the Proven Secrets of the Highest-paid Professional Restaurant Server on the Planet The Valdivieso Method, I show you exactly how to be a better waiter and can help you reach that six-figure level of income (working only four dinner shifts a week!). I’ll show you what kinds of restaurants are good, which ones suck, and everything you need to know about the process.
About the Author: Eric Valdivieso is the world’s foremost expert in the hospitality field. With over 25 years of front-line service experience in the hospitality industry, Eric went to culinary and acting school.
He worked for Marriott Hotels, starting as a Busboy and went on to become a Server, Bartender, Banquet waiter, Line cook, Bellman, Doorman, Manager, Maitre D’, and back too serving again.
He has also read over one-thousand books about behavioral science, psychology, and engineering. In particular, Eric studied the masters namely W. Edwards Demming, Tai Chi Ohno, Alfred Adler, Shigeo Shingo, Daniel Kahneman, Abraham Maslow, Richard Thaler, Martin Seligman, Robert Cialdini and many, many others.
Eric then incorporated everything he learned into his practice of serving guests and reached a six-figure income as a waiter.