• Share

29 Server Tips and Tricks | How to be a Good One

Servers have a tough job. The best servers can handle many tasks simultaneously, be good with people and read minds. They also significantly affect the restaurant’s bottom line through server tips.

Server personality is usually an innate quality, but the knowledge of wines and menu items can be learned. So, how to be a good server?

According to three restaurant industry insiders, there are several steps that servers can take to provide extraordinary service.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from this blog:

  • To increase tips, servers should keep in mind that people are not motivated by the pay. Servers need to find other ways of encouraging their customers.
  • Working as a server is often tricky because of the high demands. The servers must multitask, work fast and serve many tables at once.
  • 21 server tips and tricks

How to be a better server? Let’s dive in! 

Deliver perfect service every shift With Lightspeed, you can create and customize your menu and floor plan, take orders and fire them to the kitchen instantly, accept payment, and split the bill however customers want. It’s the POS for modern restaurants. Discover Lightspeed

Deliver perfect service every shift

With Lightspeed, you can create and customize your menu in any way that suits the style of food being served. Orders are taken quickly with no lag time between making and putting them into the kitchen for cooking. Payment is handled smoothly through a split-the-bill feature or individual costs if preferred.

server tips

How to get more server tips 

Because most restaurants tip, servers are in a unique position to earn more server tips on any given information. Here are five ways you can increase your earnings: -Serve up the dessert menu sooner than later so guests have time to think about what they want and get their wallets out -Stand with an open body language, which is inviting for customers who may be shy or introverted

  • Connect with your customers
  • Offer a unique experience to customers, and they will be more likely to buy from you again.
  • Never make assumptions
  • Be efficient
  • Handle campers diplomatically

Connect with your customers

It can be hard to keep your head in the game as a server with so many things going on. But remember that making guests happy is what matters.

The best servers are the ones who make each customer feel like they’re special. These employees get more server tips, bring in repeat customers and sell tables because they know how to connect with people.

The first step to being a good server is remembering the customer’s name. A 2009 study found that those who did this saw an increase in their server tips by 23%. Click To Tweet

Studies have shown that if you make your guests laugh, they will leave a higher tip. Humor can also create positive memories and increase the chance of them becoregulars.

Upsell customers using personal experiences

Great upsellers ask discovery questions, listen intently to their answers and recommend menu items based on the information provided. These can be very successful because they are not pushing high-priced options onto people who do not want them.

One way to upsell is by showing how an item will enhance the dining experience.

The server could ask the customer, “Would you like a glass of wine with your meal?” or inAlternatively, can tell them about an excellent Pinot Noir that would go well with their filet mignon.

Giving context to the wine and relating it back to your experience with tasting and pairing wines is one way of convincing guests to order. It’s not about what tastes good but how well a specific type of food will pair with their meal.

Never make assumptions 

A great server never assumes what a guest will order and always asks for confirmation.

When you are on the floor, guests see servers as an encyclopedia. They will ask questions about your specials and appetizers that they have not seen before.

When you take the time to ask your customers about their preferences, it creates opportunities for upselling and more generous server tips. Additionally, taking that time will help connect with them which heightens the probability of getting repeat business or receiving positive reviews online.

Be efficient

Turning tables is key to a restaurant’s success, but there needs to be an appropriate balance between turning tables and rushing guests. Following the steps of service will help you keep your table turn time within the average range while still providing quality customer service—and profits.

When it’s busy, you can’t just rely on your previous experience to be a good server.

  • When a guest arrives, the server greets them and takes their drink order.
  • The waiter or waitress takes their order, and they are given a drink while waiting for the food.
  • When the server is done with their job, they will check to see if guests need anything else before leaving.
  • When a guest is done with their meal, the server asks if they need anything else.
  • After a meal is delivered, the server checks in with the guest to ensure they are satisfied and ask if anything else is needed.

Great servers know how to be efficient and never waste a movement. They always have something that needs to go from the dining room or kitchen, even if they are assigned with one specific area. This helps build relationships between members of front-of-house and back-of-place teams.

Handle campers diplomatically

When your guests are enjoying themselves and having a great time, they may not know that their staying for so long affects the turnover rate of tables.

Some servers despise campers. They are guests who stay at their table after they have paid for their meal, which can annoy a server.

As a server, you never want to be rude and make guests feel unwelcome. Sometimes, the best way is to honestly let them know that other customers made reservations before they did.


How to be a good restaurant server

We interviewed restaurant insiders, and they said that the best servers are motivated by three things:

  • Be adaptable
  • Be likable 
  • Know your menu

Be adaptable

The best restaurant waiters can change their approach based on the needs of each customer.

Erik Baylis, owner of Big Onion Hospitality which operates eight restaurants, says that the most essential quality for a server is being able to adapt and not be afraid. He gives an example: one table may want friendly small talk while another wants their meal as soon as possible.

Caroline Markham, general manager at Eastern Standard in Boston, says that a quality of an excellent server is being able to read their customers and match the service style.

Being a waiter is more than just taking orders and delivering food. It also means lending a helping hand to your team when they need it, from clearing tables or running drinks for the bartender.

Baylis advises his staff to treat customers as if they were coming into their own homes. He says that “if I came over to your house, you would be hospitable and take care of me without hesitation. You wouldn’t say it was the job for someone else in the household.”

Be likable

A positive attitude is essential to not only getting sales but also keeping them.

“Carol Thomas, co-partner at Rock Creek Restaurant and Buffalo Café in Twin Falls, Idaho ,says that asking a candidate how they would handle anangrye customer is often the best way to gauge their skills. If someone answers with something like ‘I don’t want complaints from customers because I can’t deal with them” then you know it’s not going to work out.

server tips

Thomas says that a good server knows how to maintain their composure in front of customers, diffuse the situation and use feedback from other servers or supervisors as an opportunity for improvement.

Know your menu

Eastern Standard has an excellent training program for front-of-house staff to ensure that young, inexperienced employees who work the floor are capable and well-versed in Eastern Standard’s standards.

When training new servers, the difficulty is not just to teach them how to take care of guests but also getto getat guest excited about dining out.

“At the beginning of their training, we focus on teaching them how to follow basic mechanical steps and how to use our POS system. After that point, they are taught about customer service—including projecting knowledge, warmth ,and confidence with guests.”

Twice a day, managers and other staff members give servers presentations on topics that can help them be more knowledgeable about their food. For example, recentl,y they gave the history of beef tartare to show its origins in order for it to be better paired with wine.

After every meeting, Markham tries to spend 15-30 minutes bonding with the staff. He has found that this activity can be participatory and not a lecture.

It isessentialt to have a thorough understanding of the product, but it will not be enough on its own. Click To Tweet

“A lot of restaurantsmake a mistakee in thinking that because they offer a huge beer selection, their servers will be knowledgeable about all 300 beers. They don’t realize how impossible it is to find someone who knows every single thing,” Baylis says.

A server should be willing to ask about a beer or other menu item they don’t know, but the restaurant also provides wine and beer classes companywide so that employees can learn more.

To be successful in any restaurant, you need to have a lot of skills. Adaptability is essential because each establishment values different things and will reward your work accordingly.


21 server tips and tricks

Serving is a tough job. These are the best server tips for good service:

  • Studies show that adding a “thank you” to your guest’s check can increase their server tips by 13%.
  • Remember that your guests want to feel like they are being attended to, and it is worth investing the time into getting a sense of their preferences. You can also suggest drinks, appetizers, entrees, or desserts if you have any expertise in those areas.
  • Keep a positive attitude and greet guests with your best smile.
  • I would recommend a dish based on their preferences and my experience.
  • When a guest becomes a repeat customer, remember their name and face. They will be impressed that you took the time to learn them.
  • Have a system in place to identify and reward your VIPs.
  • When you are interacting with your guests, make sure to take the time to listen.
  • Always smile at your guests.
  • When guests are talking, it is best not to interrupt them,.
  • Never touch the part of a dish that will be eaten from. This includes plates, glasses and silverware.
  • The worst thing you can say when someone asks a question i,s “I don’t know.” If you are unsure of the answer, respond with “let me find out.”
  • Never take a plate with food on it away from the table without asking first. If you are asked to remove it, ask what was wrong.
  • I have a restaurant that swears all constantly andery successful.
  • Provide the same service to every customer.
  • When you’re at a restaurant, never let your guests order more than they can eat. Advise them on what’s best and how much of it to get.
  • When you see someone who needs help, go over and give them a hand. Your colleagues will love you for it.
  • When you are not using the entire table, take out some of the settings to make it easier for people sitting at your place.
  • When there is a shortage of food or drink, let your guests know as soon as possible so they don’,t get disappointed when it shows up on the menu.
  • If one of your guest’s requests to speak with a manager, don’t take it personally.
  • The placement of the check isessentialt. Placing it in a visible spot, even if it’s out-of-the way, can give off your personal biases and may show favoritism to certain people.
  • To be a successful restaurant manager, you need to know your point of sale system inside and out. It is the tool that will allow you to runthe  service with ease.