The quality of service provided by your waiters and waitresses has as much impact on a customer as the quality of your food. If your service staff are rude or constantly make mistakes, it can ruin the dining experience for the customer.

You can improve the table service in your restaurant by being aware of the mistakes that servers often make. This post will highlight the top 20 mistakes that restaurant servers can make and offer some advice for dealing with them.

Mistake #1 — Poor Greetings

The first mistake made by servers often occurs within 10 seconds of a customer arriving! A restaurant waiter or waitress may use an abrupt or unwelcoming greeting when customers arrive. A greeting like “How many people today?” isn’t particularly friendly. They would be better off welcoming customers with something like: “Welcome to our restaurant, my name is David, how many people will be in your party today?”. Servers should make good eye contact, smile and greet guests in a friendly way when welcoming them to the restaurant.

Mistake #2 — Being overly familiar with guests

While restaurant waiters and waitresses should be friendly with guests, they shouldn’t be overly familiar. They shouldn’t sit at the guest’s table when taking orders or touch them in any way. They should also stay out of the customer’s personal space.

Mistake #3 — Too Much Perfume or Cologne

Being served by a restaurant waiter or waitress wearing an obnoxious perfume or cologne can put a customer off their meal.

Mistake #4 — Servers With Poor Hygiene

At the other end of the scale, you can have restaurant servers who don’t care enough about their body odour! Make sure your staff members are well presented and clean. Tell each restaurant waiter or waitress to avoid touching their face or wiping their hands on their clothing.

Mistake #5 — Servers Paying More Attention to Certain Guests

Your servers should treat each guest with equal respect and appreciation. If you have servers who seem to pay more attention to good looking guests or ignore certain types of guests, you have a problem.

Mistake #6 — Expressing an Unwanted Opinion

Make sure your servers don’t make inappropriate comments when dealing with customers. They shouldn’t tell a guest that their perfume is nice or that they like their hair style.

Mistake #7 — Communicating Poorly

Servers must ensure they are communicating clearly with the customer and that the customer understands them. They need to avoid using slang words, speaking too quickly, or mumbling. They should speak in a formal manner without colloquialisms.

Mistake #8 — Rushing Customers Into Ordering

Customers will require at least a few minutes to choose their meals, so give them some time. Even if the restaurant is busy, your servers shouldn’t pressure guests into choosing their meal quickly.

Mistake #9 — Not Being Able to Recommend Meals

Customers have become accustomed to servers providing advice about the best meals on the menu. Even if the server doesn’t have a favourite dish, they should still be able to tell the customer which items are popular.

Mistake #10 — Making Misleading Comments About the Food

It is important that your servers know what is in the food. If a customer asks if a dish contains nuts, the server should know the answer. If the server makes misleading comments about the ingredients in a dish, it can ruin the dining experience for the customer.

Mistake #11 — Getting Orders Wrong

If you have noticed that some servers have a tendency to get orders wrong, pull them aside and try to understand what is causing the issue. Getting orders wrong is the quickest way for a server to get a tip deduction from a customer!

Mistake #12 — Handling Glasses Incorrectly

Many servers don’t realise that glasses should be only be handled by their lower half. Customers don’t want a restaurant waiter or waitress touching the top half of their glass as it seems unhygienic.

Mistake #13 — Being Unprepared

When delivering food, the server should bring the appropriate utensils. If they give a customer a steak but they have to wait 5 minutes for a steak knife, it will reflect poorly on the quality of your establishment.

Mistake #14 — Not Checking Everything is Satisfactory

Servers should check on the guests shortly after they have started their meals. The server simply needs to ask the guests if everything is satisfactory. The diners may have an issue with their food or require a refill on their drinks.

Mistake #15 — Not Refilling Drinks During The Meal

The most common request that customers will have after they start their meal is a refill on their drink. Servers should pay attention to the level of customer’s drinks and be ready to refill them.

Mistake #16 — Hovering Around The Table

It’s important to remember that most diners want to be left alone while they eat. The last thing they want is a restaurant waiter hovering over their shoulder while they enjoy their meal.

Mistake #17 — Pestering the Guest

Servers should avoid constantly asking customers if they need anything, especially while they are mid-way through a meal. Customers who require help will usually look around and make eye contact with a waiter or put their hand up to get attention. Look for those signals instead of checking in with the table every few minutes.

Mistake #18 — Ignoring the guest

At the other end of the spectrum you have servers who aren’t responsive to the customer’s requests. It can be especially bad for the customer if they see a server chatting with other employees or performing a mundane task instead of providing good service.

Mistake #19 — Making Guests Wait For Their Check

Your guests may have enjoyed a spectacular meal with excellent service, but if they are left waiting 15 or 20 minutes for a check, the entire experienced may be ruined. Your servers should deliver a bill to the table shortly after the meal is concluded.

Mistake #20 — Not Saying Goodbye

The final mistake that restaurant servers often make is not saying goodbye to their guests. They often let the customers wander out of the restaurant without a goodbye. Always have your servers thank the diners for their patronage.

Fixing Common Mistakes

The best approach for spotting these issues is to monitor your staff as they provide table service. If you notice any problems, talk to the specific employee or mention the problem at the next staff meeting. Don’t embarrass individual staff members at any staff meetings, it will destroy morale. Don’t make a deduction in a waiter or waitress salary for mistakes — this will also erode moral and increase staff turnover.

Instead, reward good table service from your waiters and waitresses. Read out positive comment cards at staff meetings, highlight positive reviews in the media, foster a collaborative and enjoyable environment in your restaurant. Consider lifting the waiter or waitress salary for staff members who are delivering exceptional service. Your staff is more likely to respond to honey rather than vinegar!

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