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The 5 Common Complaints in a Restaurant and How the Waiter Can Avoid Them

Jun 23, 2008
Every Food and Beverage waiter relies on what a customer tips , not on their hourly wage, in order to make a decent living. So with the consumer's eroding disposable income and more restaurants to choose from in history , it is imperative the waiter provides great service to get that person to leave a good tip. A waiter always has to be thinking ahead, highly organized, and able to prioritize quickly on the fly if they are to succeed. Most important of all is to avoid the service complaint.

Having been on the front lines since 1980 serving guests in all different kind of venues here are my top five things a waiter can do to ensure the successful outcome to a dining experience. You may be surprised at what my top five are.

The first complaint that usually surfaces is when a waiter has not acknowledged the table yet and they have been sitting there wondering if anyone will come over. This is always a bad start so the waiter always must go to the table and even if they are too busy at that moment to stay, they must tell the guest they will be right with them as soon as they can.

Even if it takes a few minutes to get back to them they are expecting you now, but be ready to take the whole order when you get back. Drinks and all. Don't let them wait further. If they are not in a hurry they may only want to have drinks but in some restaurants where people just want to eat and run then take the whole order. You probably would want that anyway if you have a big, busy section.

The second complaint can occur if there is a delay in the food order coming out of the kitchen. A lot of waiters at this point, noticing that their guests are becoming mean looking, avoid the customer at all cost until the food is ready. Don't ! Check with the kitchen and get the time as to when it will be ready. Go over to the table and tell them when it will be coming out and apologize for the delay.

The third complaint that takes place is usually when the food is immediately delivered and something does not come out the way the guest ordered it. To avoid this complaint make sure you take your time and listen to what the guest is ordering and write it down properly. If you do not understand something ask them to repeat it and then repeat it back to them especially if it has special instructions. I always write everything down. I never rely on my memory as what could happen is you have an order memorized and while heading to the terminal someone interrupts you and presto you are trying to remember what was just in your head.

The fourth complaint will happen if you do not do a table check that takes place approximately 3-5 minutes after they have started eating. Let's say they received the steak they ordered which is fine but was it cooked at the required doneness? Make the eye contact and if the guest is answering in not so a positive fashion offer to get the meal correctly cooked. At this moment you have done your job correctly. You wrote the order out correctly, punched it up right, it came out fine but the kitchen did not do their part.So we have to fix the problem and get the meal redone. Get the manager to deliver the cook up as we call it in the business.The point here is do your table checks!

The fifth complaint happens when during the table checks you are not offering to replenish their drinks, remove empty glasses , and filling up their water glass. Nothing worse than a guest with an empty glass of anything in front of them.

Notice I did not mention menu knowledge,wine knowledge or any kind of education whatsoever. If a waiter does not do the above 5 the guest will not care how much a waiter knows. Remember people do not care how much you know only how much you care. That is service on a high level.

Always affirm with the guest while clearing their plates on how they appeared to enjoy their meal and get their reaction. Let the guests dictate the conversation on a topic of their choice.Be friendly and never appear to be stressed out. Always make eye contact with the guest.

During the meal service I shut up while the guests are eating. Remember they are there to enjoy their own company not myself.I believe if a waiter follows
these five service rules and does their job with a smooth delivery they will make money.
About the Author
His motivational speaking engagements are both funny and informative. Find out more about Steve Nicolle at his website which is at http://www.stevetalks.ca
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