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A good waitress can make the job seem easy. She glides through the restaurant making small talk, engaging customers, filling orders and delivering meals: all without ever losing her smile. Entering into the service industry is not a career move for everyone. However, if you love to help and interact with people on a regular basis, waitressing can be a rewarding experience. Knowing a few tips and tricks of the trade can propel you from a good waitress to a great one.
You have no doubt heard the saying that first impressions are lasting. When you greet your customers, this is your chance to establish a tone for the remainder of your time together. Endeavor to be upbeat and friendly. Even if the establishment where you work is a casual one, avoid being overly familiar with customers. It is better to err on the side of formality than to risk offending someone by using slang or other wording that may offend. Allow the diners to set the tone for your interaction; some tables will be friendlier than others.
How much of the menu you are required to commit to memory will vary according to your employer. It is a good idea, though, to sample some of the food that your restaurant serves in order to enable you to make informed recommendations to customers. It is also beneficial to study the menu and any specials that are going on in case you are presented with questions. If you get a question that you don't know the answer to, don't guess; be honest and offer to obtain the information from a coworker or supervisor.
You never want your customers to feel forgotten or ignored after they have received their meals. It takes some practice, but you should learn how to remain attentive without hovering and becoming a nuisance. Watch for beverages that need refilling, and check in periodically to ensure that things are going smoothly and to respond to any requests.
Make up your mind that you will always remain professional with your customers. This is a commitment that may prove more difficult on some days than others. Rowdy children, rude customers and just bad days in general can make it tempting to be sour and indifferent about your job performance. This is a mistake. Customers who frequent your establishment will remember you as a waitress who they did not enjoy dealing with, and they may avoid being seated at one of your tables in the future. Customers are also less likely to tip well if they did not feel welcomed and did not enjoy their dining experience. It can be difficult to do, but to the best of your ability you should try to remain upbeat and positive. Even the worst customers will leave eventually, so endure the unpleasantness and look forward to the next guests, who may be a pleasure to deal with.
Treat your customers with attention and friendliness until the moment they step out the door. Allow for each party to naturally wind down with their dining experience, and present the check in a quiet, subtle way. Make an offer of additional coffee or beverages, and then allow the customers to leave when they are ready. Once the people at your tables are leaving, be sure to thank them for coming and to wish them a good day or evening.
Charmiane Wilson's writing career began in 1992 as a contributing reporter and writer to "Hollywood Beat" entertainment magazine. This position lasted until 2005, when she returned to her passion of writing fiction. Her novel, "A Series of Prayers," was published in late 2008. She holds an associate degree in business from Axia College.