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Though part of the oft-disrespected service industry, the job of waitress requires organization skills, strong interpersonal communication abilities and the deftness to handle many demands at once. It is very important for a restaurant to have good waitresses and waiters, as these are often the only people with whom diners interact and their behavior alone can ruin an otherwise good meal.
The waitress is the face of the restaurant for her customers, and the way she treats and interacts with them will go a long way toward their enjoyment of the restaurant. A waitress should greet customers warmly and make them feel as though they are the only table she has, taking the time to find out if the meal is a special occasion, what mood the group is in, and whether or not they are in a hurry. Waitresses will face complaints and difficult customers even when they are bringing their A game, so they must be willing to smile and empathize even in the face of rudeness.
Organization and Attention to Detail
This quality is extremely important, as waitresses deal with a vast amount of information that they must keep organized -- one little slip means the wrong meal gets delivered, the food is prepared not to the guest’s desire or an entire table’s order disappears. Waitresses have several tables at once, all seated at different times and at different points in their meal. This requires waitresses to know when to deliver menus, when it’s time for drinks, when dessert may be approaching and who is waiting for the bill, all for different groups. The tools of the trade -- a pen and pad -- haven’t changed in decades, requiring a waitress to keep a lot of things straight in her head, creating seamless meals for many different people all at once.
Professionalism is shown on the dining room floor while dealing with customers, making guests feel important and giving smooth service, and it is also demonstrated behind the scenes. A waitress must be a good team player, being generous and helpful toward other waitstaff and maintaining good relationships with her own support staff, such as the chefs, bartenders and busboys. In addition, she should be punctual and reliable, not leaving her colleagues short-staffed, and be willing to cover other shifts when asked. Waitresses may also be asked to do side jobs for which they don’t get tips, and good waitresses, with the restaurant’s overall success in mind, will help out with these chores.
Being a waitress is a very physical job and an important quality is to have a lot of stamina. Waitresses are on their feet for their entire shift, and nearly never stop walking. In addition to this, they sometimes carry heavy trays, lug around highchairs and help out in the back room to move product. At the same time, a waitress should never let on to any of her diners that she is worn out, nor let it affect her demeanor.
Mason Kaho has been writing for over 15 years, since he was an editor for his school newspaper and worked in his university's office of communications. He has a master's degree in public policy and has published many online items for science-based organizations.