Proper Serving Etiquette

Being a good server is not just about taking an order from the customer and relaying the order to the kitchen. No, being a good server is about providing an experience for your guest. As such, there is a proper etiquette involved. Everything from how you introduce yourself to your guest, how well you know the menu, the interaction between you and other staff members, and the terminology you choose to use will affect the experience of your guest. If you want to supply a five star experience for your guest then you need to be self conscious on all of your interactions. You must be respectful, courteous, and attentive to your customers at all times.

Proper Introductions
When introducing yourself to a new table it is important that your guests have had a moment to get properly settled, but not wait too long for your first interaction.  Greeting your table must happen within a 5 minute window. Upon greeting your table the first thing you must remember is to smile. Welcome your guests with sincerity and tell them your name. Following by an inquiry of starting a drink order. Ex: “Hello, my name is Nancy and I will be your server this evening. May I offer you sparkling or bottled water this evening?” or “Would you like to hear our drink, and entrée specials this evening?” As the server, you are in charge of the flow of service, and you are in charge of what you can sell. The customer cannot purchase a drink or entrée special if they are unaware there is one. Also as the Server, it is your job to know the menu, and products so that you may pass on the value the customer is receiving.

Key Phrases and Responses
When interacting with your guests it is important that you use the proper key phrases. There is a psychology in the way your message is received, and it is your job to ensure that your guests feel both taken care of, and receive the correct message that you are trying to convey.

Use key words such as:

  • May I…?
  • Would you like…?
  • May I offer you…?
  • May I remove your plate?
  • Would you care for….?
  • Shall I?
  • Yes, or course (When a guest requests or asks for something)
  • Absolutely (When a guest requests or asks for something)

Avoid phrases/responses such as:

  • Are you done?
  • Are you still working on that?
  • Ain’t ..
  • No Problem.. (of course it’s not a problem. It’s your job. NEVER respond with this phrase. Ever!)

Professionalism on the floor

It is important to remember that while you are working; ALL EYES ARE ON YOU! Your interaction with other staff members, your posture, and your appearance are all open for interpretation while you are on the sales floor. You must remember to hold a professional façade while working.

That means: 

  1. Foul/Improper language and grammar is forbidden
  2. No speaking of personal experiences within earshot of guest
  3. Do not speak ill of another guest (that’s very disrespectful and unprofessional)
  4. No leaning on counters
  5. Keep your hands OUT of your pockets
  6. No consuming Food or Beverage where guests can see you (There are break stations, and break times available for this)

The guests that frequent your establishment are what ultimately pay your paycheck. Without satisfied guest, you will loose your client base, and without a client base, your company with run out of business. The quality of service starts with you. You are the face of the business, and you need to remember to treat your guests with the respect they deserve.

Realize not all guests are easy to serve, but at the end of the day; if you can honestly say you did your best to supply the highest quality of service, then you should be proud of your position, and the value you bring to your company.

Providing the Right Atmosphere for your customers; learning how to ‘set the mood’

Supplying the correct presentation is essential to any business and any misrepresentation can lead to unhappy or otherwise disgruntled customers. It is for this reason you must learn how to ‘set the mood’. Just as it is important to set the mood when building a new romantic relationship; it is also very important to set the mood when building your customer’s relationship with you and your company. Having the correct staff in place (those that know how to ‘set the mood’) will ensure happy customers and repeat business.

So, how do you Set the mood?
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Serving Food Not Germs

Servers are in Charge of handling and delivering food. They serve as the ‘Middle Man’ between the customers and the kitchen. The Customers trust the servers and their establishment to uphold a clean and healthy atmosphere.

Germs spread rapidly. Some can even be life threatening. A person likely to have a compromised immune system would be a child or a senior citizen. These particular individuals are at a higher risk for illness.
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I’m a Server, Not a Dumb Waiter


What is it about a sunny day that makes me feel like I can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone? As I drive down the road I watch in envy as the tourists, and weekenders stroll by past the shops; enjoying the day, and soaking in the sun.
Do I need to wait til I’m retired in order to have weekends and sunny days off? The last thing I want to do is be stuck in a building all day serving those who have become more successful at life than me, and then come home to my family at night after everyone is in bed. Coupled with a low salary and an ever sloping self esteem. I’d say I will soon be on my way to the nut house. I’m sure many of you have had these thoughts at one time or another.
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