Working as a server can be a fun and fulfilling job, but only if you’re really prepared. Here are the top skills you need to increase your employability and ultimately, help you be a better server.
If you don’t like being around people, serving isn’t the job for you. Being a server requires you to interact with everyone: customers, management, kitchen staff, hosts/hostesses, and other servers. And—as is the case with most customer service positions—not all of these people are pleasant. Be polite and friendly, and learn how to resolve conflicts (such as customers receiving the wrong order, disliking their food, et cetera) in diplomatic ways (such as offering a free dessert or a percentage off the bill).
Think about all the best servers you’ve had as a customer. What were they like? Chances are, they were incredibly attentive—without being too friendly. An attentive server anticipates customer needs. For example, when you finished your cup of coffee, someone comes over to give you a refill from a fresh pot. The ability to pay attention to—and not forget about—customers is paramount in serving. (In some cases, you’ll also need to know when someone has had too much to drink.)
With few exceptions, most servers have to settle bills and make change. Most of the time systems and calculators will do this for you, but in some places, things are done the old-school way. (With pens and paper and those kinds of things.) So brush up on your arithmetic.
Taking and serving orders, cleaning front areas, processing payments, responding to customer requests—believe it or not, servers have to do all of these things (and sometimes more). During busy shifts you’ll have to take care of multiple tables, meaning you’ll be doing all of this while trying not to mix up orders or leave customers waiting. If you have difficulty switching between tasks, get practicing!