Server Training Basics

Beside the 10 Steps of Customer Service, what else is there to being a Server?

Server Basics

Greet every customer the moment the door opens! While this goes back to step 1 of the10-steps, it's worth emphasizing again. Why? It lets customers know they've been seen, and gives them hope they will receive service quickly. Even when the store is super busy, don't work with blinders on as though you didn't see the new customer! Look up and greet, and point out a seat, or indicate where and when a seat may become available.

Nice Words

Talking nicely and using good language shows respect. Use these standard phrases with customers.

No "Sweetie. Honey. Hun. Dear"

Unless it's your significant other, children, parents, friends, -- not a stranger at the table, never utter these mushy terms of endearment. Customers don't like it, and some are actually offended by it. What should you use? Nothing, or sir, or mam, or their name, if you know it.

Service with a Smile

More Tips for Successful Customer Service

  1. Show kindness
  2. Let Customers Have Their Say
  3. Keep your cool. Never argue back to a customer! Getting angry will make the situation worse!


Customer:  "My ordered still hasn't arrived. I want my money back."

You:  "I'm sorry, let me check on it immediately."

Getting a Complaint

Disgruntled Image Late in getting to the customer? Food took too long? Forgot a beverage? It's not the occasional lapse in service that results in us loosing customers, it's failure to show sincere concern.

Recover from a Complaint

Apology Card Image

Follow this two-step process in order to "recover" the situation:

  1. Take Action.  It doesn't matter whose fault it is. Resolve it!

    • "Thank you for waiting, how can I help you?"
    • "I'm sorry about that, let me fix it!"

  2. Issue an Apology Card. Use the opportunity to drive home the point that we value our customers.

Image Restaurant Manager

Is the Manager Here?

We don't always have a manager on duty. So if you get "I want to talk to a manager", ...know that you and others are capable of handling customer service issues. So rather than to say the manager isn't here right now, say: "I am capable of solving your problem. how may I help you?".

Coffee Refills

Be a "Runner"

It takes longer to prepare the food than it takes to take the order. So the kitchen becomes a "bottleneck".  So to expedite things, "run" back and assist and coordinate the activities of the cook. The faster the food comes out, the faster people are served and will more likely tip and turnover the table.

Pre-Clear Dishes

Dishes Everywhere

Does this look appealing --->?

This is what happens when the server doesn't  "pre-clear" the customer's main dish while the customer is still seated. As you can see, pre-clearing is a a vital step to keeping the restaurant looking tidy.

Where to Pre-clear the Dishes

Bus Pan ImageDon't clutter the sink with dirty dishes. Pre-clear into a bus pan. Keep bus pans handy on the lower shelf of the customer counter and at a nearby bus-cart.

Maintain the Sanitizing Solution Bucket

Red Bucket and Test StripsUse a clean wiping cloth and the bleach water in the red bucket to wipe and sanitize the:

Check the Bleach Water Solution in the Red Bucket

All wiping cloths should be stored in the red bucket with chlorine/water sanitizing solution. Change the bucket often and test the solution, every 2 hours or more depending on usage. Use test strips found on the wall. It's a simple process of inserting a test strip as the water comes out of the dispenser. It should read between 50-100 ppm, and definitely not less than 50 ppm.

Reset Tables

Set Table

Doesn't this look nice --->?

Clear and reset tables before anything else. Before doing dishes, before taking breaks. The place needs to look organized and presentable.

  1. Wipe the table
  2. Pull the condiments away from the menu holder and wipe underneath
  3. Arrange the setups
  4. Set out placemat and rolled silverware
  5. Table tent in the middle

All tables and the counter seats must have placemats and table tents at all times!

Like This!Tables Not Set

Not this! Tables Not Set

Answering the Phone and Phone OrdersTelephone Image

Please make every effort to excuse yourself and answer the phone.

How to Answer the Phone

" Hello, George Webb's on __(street)___, _this is (name)_"

No Immediate Hold Please!

Also please, when you answer, don't immediately say "can you hold" and set the phone down. Allow the customer to state why they are calling. Then, if you must put them on hold, say: "I have another order, I'll be right back with you."

Phone Orders

The phone must be answered and orders taken. When an order roughly exceeds $40, politely inform the customer: "for orders over roughly $40 we ask you to come into the restaurant to place the order, or consider placing the order online at It's convenient and fast. Other options to suggest are Door Dash, Uber Eats, or Grub Hub which all have pick up service as well as delivery service.

Table Sections

When there are two or more servers on duty, and the restaurant is busy, you can loosely divide up the restaurant into sections so that each of you can focus on the customers in your section. However, you must continue to work as a team, helping each other as needed, and not avoid helping each other when there is an imbalance as to the number of customers in one section vs another section.

Customer Hand-Off at Change of Shift

The customers don't care about your end-of-shift getting ready to go home issues. Hand-off customers to the new shift with care:

  1. Continue to take orders, entering them into the POS system right up to the end of the shift.
  2. Point out to the next server where each customer is at in the10-steps to service
  3. Point out any pending orders on the POS or in the kitchen.
  4. Transfer pending orders in the POS to the new server.

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