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How To Be a Good Waitress/Waiter

waiters serving food

If your career as a Waiter or Waitress is just beginning, you could probably use some help on how to excel at the role. While your key responsibilities are clear, there’s more you need to learn to take your service from ordinary to extraordinary.

This article will tell you everything you need to know on how to be a good Waitress or Waiter.

7 Key Tips To Become a Better Waitress

When you first get a job as a Waiter or Waitress, the restaurant will train you to take and deliver orders. But there’s more to the role than that.

The following tips will help you do your primary duties effectively and ensure customers leave the place with a smile on their face.

1. Entertain Customer Requests

As a Waiter or Waitress, it’s important to go above expectations when responding to customer requests.

If they want to customize their order, help them do so and clearly state what the establishment can and cannot do. Then check with the kitchen staff whether their request can be accommodated.

If so, reassure the customer that they’ll receive what they’ve asked for. It can also help if you recommend a dish from the menu that you like the best.

2. Know the Restaurant’s Menu

Waiters or Waitresses should know the menu inside out. This includes not only what’s available but also details about each dish.

You should be able to tell them how it’s prepared and name all the ingredients. Learn which meals have potential allergens and be ready to inform customers of them if necessary.

Stay up-to-date with any changes in the menu and do some research on the dishes that have been added.

If you work in a bar, you can also benefit from learning more about cocktails and other drinks that are being served.

3. Greet Customers Enthusiastically

In the restaurant industry, nothing is worth more than a good first impression. Luckily, it’s easy to set a positive tone right from the start.

A genuine and enthusiastic greeting is always guaranteed to do the trick. Smile warmly and make eye contact when approaching customers for the first time.

After you do that, you can ask them how their day is going or if there’s a special occasion.

Paying attention to the customer’s mood and adjusting your greeting accordingly can help as well.

waitress taking an order

4. Anticipate Customer Needs

A good Waiter or Waitress pays close attention to effectively gauge what the customer wants or needs. Even when they don’t ask for something, there are some subtle signs that they may require your assistance.

If the customer took a glance at the dessert menu – it may indicate they want to order something from it. When their glass is empty, it’s highly likely that they would want a refill or another type of drink.

As a Waiter or Waitress, it’s essential to act on little things like these while also paying attention to the customers’ general behavior.

5. Upsell With Courtesy

Upselling is a common practice in restaurants but, as mentioned in the previous item, the last thing you want to do is be pushy or aggressive.

Waiters and Waitresses should know how to take a subtle approach when recommending dishes or suggesting additional items.

As long as you’re polite and not intrusive, you can help the restaurant make more sales and improve customers’ orders.

6. Respond to Criticism Gracefully

Unfortunately, things can always go wrong when working in a restaurant.

If a customer isn’t satisfied with their order or your service, it’s important to handle the situation in the right way. Listen to their concerns and apologize sincerely.

Once you do that, check whether there’s something you can do to fix the situation. If you realize there was a mistake with their order, offer to replace the dish or suggest an alternative.

Responding to criticism with grace can easily turn a negative experience into a positive one.

7. Prioritize and Multitask

Working in busy establishments such as restaurants often includes juggling multiple responsibilities. You have to take orders, deliver food and process payments.

Doing all this while delivering satisfactory service isn’t always easy.

To ensure this doesn’t become an issue, learn how to prioritize effectively and work on your multitasking skills.

Start by checking for dirty dishes you can take to the kitchen every time you deliver an order. Also, always check whether there are any tables that need immediate attention and handle them first.

Essential Skills for a Good Waitress

Just like their duties, the Waiter’s or Waitress’s skills should go beyond just taking orders and delivering food. From customer experience skills to some personal attributes, acquiring these abilities can significantly impact your service quality:

Active Listening

One of the foundational skills for Waiters and Waitresses is active listening.

It’s important to pay attention to everything customers are saying and understand their specific needs and preferences. Do that and they’ll be satisfied with your service.

If something in their order is unclear, ask questions to improve your understanding.

Sharp Memory

Waiters and Waitresses often take multiple orders at a time. You have to remember all of them and not forget any special requests or preferences they named.

With sharp memory, you’ll be able to do all this and ensure everyone at the restaurant gets accurate and personalized service.

As a beginner, it’s a good idea to write down any big orders. As you gain more experience, you’ll be able to remember them more easily.


A job in this role requires all your focus to be on your customers. Not only should you deliver the best possible service at all times but you should also be able to notice any signals they give you and act accordingly.

To do this right, pay attention to their body language, facial expressions and verbal cues.


Whether it’s a sudden rush of customers or a big change in the menu, it’s up to Waiters and Waitresses to adjust and deliver exceptional service no matter what.

Being flexible means you can adapt quickly in such situations without letting anything disrupt your service.

Flexibility also encompasses taking on new duties when required and helping busy co-workers by taking on extra tables.

Positive Attitude

As mentioned before, showing a positive attitude when greeting customers is a must. However, your attitude should never go down after the initial greeting.

Do everything you can to maintain a friendly and welcoming atmosphere and bring all orders with a smile on your face.

A positive attitude will also help you de-escalate any difficult situations that might come up.

waiter taking an order

Improving Service and Increasing Tips

When customers are happy they’re more likely to give higher tips. This is usually between 15-20% of the total bill and can be a nice addition to the Waiter/Waitress salary.

To earn those tips, you have to keep improving your service. Below are some advice that can help you do this:

Be Efficient and Personable

While it may not always be easy to achieve, a good Waiter or Waitress should be both efficient and personable.

This means you should be able to deliver all orders accurately and in a timely fashion, but still find time to offer more personalized service to customers.

The best way to get this personal touch is by showing genuine interest in their dining experience and engaging in small talk with customers who seem to be in a good mood.

Repeat Orders Accurately

One of the simplest ways to improve your service is to repeat customers’ orders back to them. This not only helps prevent mistakes but also shows that you’re paying close attention to them.

It’s also a quick and easy way to give customers the opportunity to correct any order before your co-workers start preparing the order.

Work as a Team

Basketball legend Michael Jordan said that teamwork is one of the keys to winning championships – and that also applies in the restaurant industry.

It takes good communication with your colleagues and a positive working environment to ensure every order is delivered correctly and promptly.

Being a good colleague also means you’re ready to take on other team members’ tasks when the time allows it. They’ll appreciate it and be ready to return the favor when you need assistance.

Another good idea is to make a habit of sharing any relevant information about tables and customers with your co-workers.

Practical Advice for Success as a Waiter/Waitress

Lastly, following some simple practical pieces of advice can completely change a customer’s perspective of both you and the restaurant.

Below are some you can start employing as soon as your next shift:

Introduce Yourself by Name

To make your service super personalized, introduce yourself by name when greeting customers. This not only establishes your role but also helps you create a good connection with them right from the start.

Once you’ve introduced yourself, tell them you’re there to help and ready to answer any questions they have.

Always Carry a Notepad

Even if you have great memorization skills, it’s sometimes better to jot down big orders and special requests just to make sure everything is delivered with accuracy.

Aprons that are a part of the Waiter and Waitress uniform often have large pockets, so carrying a notepad around shouldn’t be a problem.

You can also use it to take notes on customer feedback or any other information that can help be helpful.

waiter taking notes

Get To Know the Regulars

Most restaurants have regular customers. If this is the case in the one where you work, remembering their names and usual orders can make them feel valued and appreciated.

Sometimes, spending a few minutes chatting with regulars can help you get through your shift and leave the workplace with a better sense of accomplishment.

Try to take a mental note every time they order something. Once you know what they normally order, you can start asking them whether they want the usual.

How To Be a Good Waitress: Summary

There’s so much to learn about this position and you can even start before you take on your first Waiter or Waitress job.

The advice from this article will help you develop the essential skills and adjust your service to meet all the needs of your customers, ensuring they have a pleasant dining experience.

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