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One of the key elements of a customer's experience in a restaurant is the level of service offered by the wait staff. If you are a server, your primary responsibility is to ensure that all your customers are happy and their needs are met. You must also have a pleasant disposition and possess the flexibility to to respond to a variety of demands from your customers. However, your most important duty is to ensure that you accurately take your customer's order so he receives the dish exactly the way he wants.
Prepare your order pad. Some restaurants may have a preconfigured pad with a sequential order of seats for all the tables at your station. If not, ensure that you have your own method of order-taking, such as a clockwise system or a coding system based on the number of guests, that assures everyone receives the correct dish.
Greet the guests at the table with a smile as you make eye contact with each of them. State the specials of the day and make several recommendations. Ask if anyone has questions about an item on the menu.
Take the first order from the female guests, if applicable. If there are no women at the table, take the order based on your restaurant's sequential system or from the male guest who seems most ready to order. If your customer is trying to decide among several menu items, provide assistance by explaining how each dish is prepared.
Repeat the order back to every guest to ensure it is accurate. If someone orders a dish that can be prepared several different ways – such as a steak – ask how the guest would like the item cooked. Repeating the order also allows you to ensure that you match each guest with the proper order.
Ask the diners if they would like to add anything to the order. Thank everyone, collect the menus and state that the meal will arrive shortly.
Know your restaurant's menu well so you can make recommendations, answer meal preparation questions and advise guests about possible allergic reactions due to the presence of ingredients such as nuts, dairy or wheat.
Do not tell a guest that a meal can be prepared in a special way unless you know that the chefs or cooks can do it. Otherwise, you could create resentment in the guest and may spoil her dining experience.
Sampson Quain is a screenwriter and filmmaker who began writing in 1996. He has sold feature and television scripts to a variety of studios and networks including Columbia, HBO, NBC, Paramount and Lionsgate. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in screenwriting from the University of Southern California.