Congratulations on getting your first waitressing job! There are many important steps to take in order to become an expert waitress. These instructions will help your training process run smoothly.
Step 1: Materials
Now that you have entered into the restaurant world, you will need to go out and get a few materials.
• A “servers book”: the book is a black leather book with folds in it, pretty much like a small folder. This is where you will keep your cheat-sheets of information that you don't have memorized, notepads, cash, and credit card receipts.
• Notepads: You will keep a notepad inside your server book to write your orders down, specials if you have any, also any cheat-sheets about things you may need to remember while standing at your table.
• A wine opener
• An apron to hold all of the above while you are working. We will provide you with a new apron in order for the severs to all have the same exact one.
(All items mentioned are pictured above)
Step 2: Learn Your Menu
There are several steps within step 2 because learning the menu is one of the most important aspects of being a waitress. The menu should be memorized.
1. Know every single item on the menu
2. Know the prices of everything
3. Know all the ingredients in each item and how it is prepared
4. Know if any sauce, utensil, or extra that may come on the side with any item
• Ex: ketchup, honey mustard, lobster cracker, etc.
5. Know all questions that need to be asked when an item is ordered
• Ex: How would you like that cooked? Would you like fries or coleslaw with that?
1. Know what types of non-alcoholic drinks you have and what brand name they are
• Ex: pepsi or coke
2. Know what wines you have
3. Know the brands of hard alcohols you have
4. Know the different types of mixed drinks
5. Know “bar” lingo
• Ex: margarita on the rocks (rocks means ice), a screwdriver (vodka and orange juice), bay breeze (cranberry and pineapple juice)
Step 3: Learn How to Use the Computer System
Some computer systems are tricky. Take the time to practice using the computer system and get familiar with things such as how to put in orders and close out a table.
Step 4: Set Up Your Server Station and Your Tables
Be sure that your tables are clean and the server station is organized and stocked before your shift and after your shift. Also, all side work should be completed before and after your shift in order for a smooth transition to next shift of waitresses coming in.
Some examples of side work are
• Cutting lemons
• Making fresh coffee
• Stocking the straws
• Refilling the condiment bottles
• Stocking the sugar caddies
• Refilling the salt and pepper shakers
• Take out the garbage and recycling
• Wipe down the tables
Anything that you may need during your shift will most likely be stored in the server station. This makes it easier and faster for you to provide your tables with anything small that they may ask you for.
Step 5: Begin to Serve: Approaching and Drinks
The best way to get better at serving is to practice, practice, practice!
1. First, approach your table with confidence! Introduce yourself and offer your customers a drink.
- Always try to “upsell” and offer a specialty cocktail
2. Write down their drink orders.
3. State the specials, once again trying to “upsell”, and then leave to go get the drinks.
- Tell them to take some time to think about the specials and that you will be right back with their drinks.
4. Put the drink orders into the computer and then go to the bar to wait for them to be made.
5. Bring your drinks back to your table.
Step 6: Appetizers
6. Ask if anyone would like to start off with an appetizer.
7. If yes, take the appetizer order down and tell them you will be back shortly, then immediately put the order into the computer. If no, ask if everyone is ready to order and take the meal order, then immediately put that into the computer (if the table does not want an appetizer skip to step 12).
8. If your table does order an appetizer, get small appetizer plates and bring them to your table. Now, you will ask if everyone is ready to place a meal order, and then you will write it all down.
a. If your table is getting an appetizer before their meal, do not put the meal order into the computer until after the appetizer is served to the table. This will give the customers time to eat and digest before their meal comes out.
9. Check the kitchen for when your appetizer is ready, when it is, put any sauces that may go with it on the plate, and then bring it to the table. Ask if you can get them anything else.
10. Half way through their eating, go over and check on how the appetizer is to be sure everything is okay.
11. When everyone is finished with the appetizers, take all the plates away.
Step 7: Meals
12. After you clear the appetizer plates, bring out any condiments that may be needed for the meals.
Ex: ketchup, steak sauce, cheese, etc.
13. Check on the kitchen to see when your meal order is up. When ready, make sure everything is on each plate and bring the meals out to your table.
14. Place the meals on the table and ask if anyone would like a drink refill. If yes, immediately put the refill orders into the computer.
15. After, go to the bar to pick up the freshly made drinks and bring them back to your table.
16. Again, ask the table how everything is and if you can get them anything else.
17. When everyone is finished with their meals, remove all plates, utensils, dirty napkins, and empty glasses from the table.
Step 8: Dessert and Check
18. Last, ask if anyone at the table would like to order dessert coffee or tea.
19. If someone would like a dessert, first put it into the computer.
20. Then make the dessert and bring it over to your table.
21. Half way through dessert bring the check over to the table and thank your customers.
22. Give the customers a few minutes (5 minutes) to look over the bill and put either cash or a credit card in the checkbook.
23. After 5 minutes or so go over and pick up the book and close out the table on the computer according to how they paid for the bill.
24. If the customers paid with cash, bring them back their change and thank them for dining with you.
25. If the customer paid with a credit card, print out the credit card slip and bring it back over to the table with a pen, once again, thank your customers for dining with you.
-After the singing of the credit card slip, do not forget to close out the credit card transaction and save all slips to hand in at the end of your shift.
26. Once the customers leave be sure to quickly clear and clean off the table. If there is a wait this will need to be done immediately, if there is not a wait, it still should be cleared as soon as possible.
27. THE END! You have successfully completed serving a table.
Step 9: Study and Practice
The only way to get better at waitressing is to do it over and over again. You must be knowledgeable of the restaurant you are working at in order to gain a full understanding of your work environment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking a question will only show that you are interested in learning. All of your co-workers and managers will be glad to help you! Everyone becomes very close while working in a restaurant together, we all help each other.
Step 10: Things to Be Aware of When Being a Waitress
Here are some tips to keep in mind that will benefit you in your waitressing career.
• Always smile and be polite to your customers
o Not every customer will be the nicest but as long as you do your best and have a positive attitude it will provide the best customer service.
o Do not call the customers “guys”, be respectful and refer to them as folks, gentlemen, or ladies
• Be on top of what you need to get done
o Be smart and logical about every move you make so you don’t fall behind
o Don’t make 6 trips for different things when you could have only made 1
o Stay calm and know all of your information and steps to serving and you should not get overwhelmed
A tip to dealing with a rush is to ask others for help. Everyone is there to help you and you are there to help them. The managers are always willing to lend a hand. If you need help just ask for it and someone will be sure to assist you.
• Do not be lazy
o Don’t ever just stand around, if you are not busy, study the menu, the wines, the alcohol, or the computer system
o In the restaurant business there is a saying, “there is always something that can be cleaned”, if you are bored, CLEAN SOMETHING
Step 11: DONE!
Hopefully these steps will successfully help in your process of becoming a waitress. Don’t forget that no one is perfect the first time, but practice makes perfect. Good luck and have fun!