Here's a newsflash for servers. Your job is to do more than make drinks and take orders. You are here to "serve" your guests. They don't just come to your restaurant to eat - they come for the experience.

And, you hold the key to this. Your service is the experience. So, how do you give your customers the experience they want? It's simple - read the table.

Yes, read the table and gauge what type of experience your guests want.

How do you read the table? It starts with reading the mood of the guests. You can capture clues from your guests' dress, body language and eye contact. This information gives you a guess as to what type of service your guest expects. For example:

· A group of intent looking business people probably prefer the “take our order, bring our food and refills” approach.

· Vacationers want to know about things to do, how long the restaurant’s been around and suggestions for what to eat.

· The family celebrating a birthday will want to linger and engage in conversation and attention from the server.

· A couple or single parent with young children may appreciate a server diverting the attention of their kids for a moment or two.

· Someone who glances at a watch or doesn’t put down his or her phone indicates quick, no frills service.

Reading the Table Takes Service a Step Further
Reading the table helps you notice the small details, such as who may pay the check or if a guest is left-handed. Knowing small details like this helps you add that extra touch of service, which results in better financial success for you. Seeing yourself as a salesperson benefits both you and the restaurant with higher sales and better tips.

Ask for Sections that Meet Your Personality

Restaurants are designed to accommodate different numbers of guests, but they are also designed with the types of guests. For instance, when I waited tables, I always requested to work in the bar area or to take the big groups. I considered myself a specialist in taking care of people who liked to have fun (drinkers) and big groups (I love big, loud groups as I'm from a large family).

Matching yourself to your guests results in connecting with them. This means they get a positive experience, and you get to have fun creating this experience.

Start Every Shift with a Goal - Give Your Guests an Experience

One of my former managers had us do a line-up before every shift. We all had to discuss our goals for the evening. He reminded us that it was our job to help the customer remember our "experience," not just our food.

These simple strategies can really boost your tip return and give you a better focus for your customers.

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  • Service itself is rewarding, but developing a keen awareness for what it takes to match servers and guests is another step towards success.
  • Nice outlook Amanda, I could see a lot of value going into a training program where the emphasis is about "reading" their tables. The key I think would be having a standard of incredible service and then from there the server should tailor the service according to the customer, which I feel great servers already do. I really like the lineup before the shift, I have had a lot of success in having a leader set the tone for the nightly experiences and placing a reminder to the group that it isnt about anything but the customer experience!
  • Thanks, Ty! Tweet away!
  • Great post Amanda! I'm hoping people really see this and take notes! As a matter of fact if you don't mind I'm going to Tweet it out!
    Have a great weekend!
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