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Waiting-On Staff and the Right Impression

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 31 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Restaurant Business Staff

Your waiting staff represents you and your restaurant to your customers, so it is important that they make the right first impression.

As the restaurant owner, it is your responsibility to recruit and train the right people. Just as a good waitress can help make a good meal out more enjoyable, so too can a surly waiter spoil an otherwise lively evening.

It is most important to point out that waiters and waitresses are usually working because they want to earn some money. They are usually students looking for some way to fund their studies or pay for fun and holidays, so do not forget that. All too often business owners think that their staff should be as passionate about their business as they are. They will be – nearly – if you pay well and pay on time. Do not make a fuss about paying and do not make them wait to be paid, otherwise they will leave or be demotivated – neither of which is good for your business.

Training Your Waiting Staff

While a bit of natural charm and dexterity certainly helps, good waiter and waitress staff are made and not born. You can only expect your waiting staff to be as good as the training you give them, so make it count.

Customers are usually happy with a relatively relaxed waiting style nowadays, although if your restaurant is terribly high class, you will need to make sure your waiting staff are trained accordingly.

Train your staff on how to carry plates, to serve from the left and to clear plates in an unobtrusive manner. There is nothing worse than finishing your meal and then the waiter or waitress clears the plates on top of each other in front of you.

Appearance Matters

Whilst you must be careful not be ageist in your recruitment, waiting staff that take care of their appearance are more appealing to customers.

Make it clear what you expect in terms of appearance from your waiting staff – be clean, clean shoes, well pressed clothing and neat and tidy hair. It is far easier to control this if you provide and launder a uniform, or a blouse or shirt at the very least.

You must also make sure that they do not have dirty fingernails, perfume that is too strong or are wearing make up that is inappropriate to your establishment.

The Importance of Manners

The manners of your waiters and waitresses will make a great difference to the success of your restaurant. Train your staff to greet customers in a friendly manner as soon as they walk in to your restaurant.

Good manners include smiling and being polite, even to difficult customers and understanding how best to handle problematic situations. Make it clear to your waiting staff that you are there to support them and will deal with any issues arising that they are not comfortable with.

If one of your waiting staff is having a difficult time, or is poorly while they are at work, allow them to go and have a cup of coffee to regain their composure, rather than forcing them to struggle through their shift. You will help to gain their loyalty without having to jeopardise the quality of your restaurant service.

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