In most restaurants, Servers are the first ones to come in contact with the customer on behalf of the establishment. Their main responsibility may be to take and run orders made by guests, but due to their constant interaction with customers they have extra duties to attend to. Servers are often tasked with several customer service activities, seating guests as they come, tending to any special needs they might have (e.g. assisting customers with reduced mobility), and answering to any questions or complaints guests may have, including taking complaints and suggestions and communicating them to the appropriate member of the staff.
Depending on the size of the restaurant and number of members in the staff, Servers will have different methods of collecting orders, taking care of special requests, charging the right meals to the correct table, and making the necessary corrections when the bill is wrong. Servers often work in close relation with the kitchen staff. They must always know what dishes are and aren’t available, what modifications and substitutions may be made on any particular dish, and the exact ingredient of each item in the menu in order to inform guests that may have allergies to certain foods.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Servers are required to complete.
- Greeting and serving customers once they’re seated:
- Presenting and describing menus and daily specials, suggesting any specialities, and answering any questions customers may have;
- making accurate recommendations on beverages to accompany guests’ meals, as well as presenting, opening, and pouring them;
- requesting and checking customers’ IDs in order to verify that they are of legal age of drinking alcohol;
- running orders to the kitchen or bar;
- bringing food and beverages to the table and ensuring that all orders are complete;
- providing special services depending on the dish that was requested (e.g. carving meat, pouring oil or spices on food, or flambéing certain dishes);
- bringing the bill to customer when requested and assisting them with payment procedures; and
- greeting guests and thanking them with genuine appreciation before they leave.
- Being the liaison between the kitchen and the dining room in order to ensure that a common vision is shared.
- Coordinating activities with the rest of the serving staff as well as kitchen and administrative personnel in order to provide customer with an excellent dining experience.
- Consulting with Executive Chefs and Restaurant Managers regarding daily specials and availability of dishes.
- Assisting in the prompt removal of dirty dishes, cutlery, and linen, as well as replacing them with new, clean ones.
- Communicating with customers:
- Getting feedback from customers in order to ensure satisfaction with both food and service;
- handling customers’ concerns with the support of the management team;
- anticipating and addressing customers’ service needs; and
- ensuring all information provided to the customer is current and accurate.
- Maintaining a warm and inviting environment for the customers’ enjoyment at all times, ensuring the best experience, so that they always come back for the first-class service.
- Managing administrative operations:
- Accepting and processing payment from clients for food and beverage; and
- using MICROS or any other point of sale software to record orders.
- Complying with all company safety and security policies and procedures:
- Completing safety training and certifications;
- reporting accidents, injuries, and unsafe work conditions to the Manager; and
- following all safety and sanitation policies when handling food and beverages.
- Preparing tables for new customers, ensuring that they have all the necessary dishes, cutlery, linen, and spices.
- Greeting and seating guests as they come, presenting the menu, and recommending daily specials.
- Answering any questions guests may have regarding dishes, ingredients, or services.
- Writing down orders from guests, taking in consideration any special request they may have.
- Running order to the kitchen and bar, and ensuring they are being processed.
- Bringing food to the table, using special tools, such as trays, when necessary.
- Presenting the bill when requested by the customer and assisting them in the payment process.
- Removing dirty dishes and cutlery once guests have finished eating.
The average Server salary is $25,856 per year or $13 per hour. This is around 0.8 times less than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $18,000 while most experienced workers make up to $36,000. These results are based on 1,128 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Sincere desire to please others and provide the best service possible:
- Being enthusiastic, outgoing, positive, and upbeat.
- Interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, especially verbally, in order to create a clear and communicative environment with customers;
- displaying strong customer service skills;
- being able to build professional relationships with customers in order to create a familiar atmosphere;
- speaking with customers or staff using clear, professional, and respectful language at all times; and
- being able to deal with a diverse group of people in potentially adversarial situations using a calm, polite, tactful, discreet, and effective approach.
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Having strong multitasking skills; being able to work under pressure in a dynamic, fast-paced environment;
- being highly responsible and reliable; and
- being organized, detail oriented, and structured.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills:
- Identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner; and
- being able to analyze customers in order to make the proper recommendations.
- Self-motivated, decisive, responsible, and always driven to provide the best service.
- Motor coordination and physical strength:
- Being able to spend an entire work shift on their feet carrying heavy trays, dishes, and drinks; and
- moving, lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, and placing objects weighing less than or equal to 25 pounds without assistance.
Aside from the skills listed above, Servers also need to focus all of their attention on the customer in order to provide the best service possible. This is often an entry-level job in the Food Services field, so very little formal education and experience is asked from candidates. However, general knowledge about food and beverages, especially wine, is always preferred. In-house job training is often available under the supervision and guidance of more experienced staff members.
Since Servers are involved in so many aspects of customer service, they are often expected to keep a clean and neat appearance. Depending on the category of the establishment, Servers may be discouraged from having visible tattoos, piercings, and facial hair. Many restaurants provide their employees with the necessary uniforms they are expected to wear during working hours.
Different restaurants have different needs, and with each necessity the tasks of the team of Servers may vary. Restaurants specializing in fast food are expected to be efficient and quick in the process of taking, running, and delivering an order. High-end restaurants offering a more refined experience require Servers with strong attention to details and a more specialized knowledge of the meal they are serving.
Servers must be able to work flexible schedules, including weekends, nights, and holidays, as well as to stand and walk for an 8 to 12-hour long shift.