So You Want To Be A Waiter

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Quick tip

When you take back your guest’s check after running the credit card, do two things – look at the signature block and take note of the name. If the signature block says “Check for ID”, ask them for ID when you get back. They will love you for it. And you’ll be one of the few people who ever asks them. This sets you apart from the crowd and is the final cement block in the foundation you have carefully built, a foundation of trust and care for the guest. There’s no way for me to quantify it, but I don’t think that it can do anything but help the tip.

I also give the check holder back and say something like, “Here you go Ms. Rogers. Thank you”. You’d be surprised how few waiters use the person’s name after having it handed to them on a silver credit card platter. It’s a pretty common adage that there’s nothing that a person likes to hear than his or her name. People almost perk up at the use of their name, especially when they haven’t told you.

Finally, I also shake their hand and give a little head nod. That’s something that I think seals the professional relationship that you have established.

One caveat – if it’s a difficult name, you do this at your own risk. Nobody likes their name butchered. I worked with a waiter named Villegas (like the famous golfer). He said that when he dined out, he would even reduce the tip if someone butchered his name by saying VIL e gus instead of Ve JAY gus. And this is a WAITER saying this. So be very careful, and if you have any doubt, don’t do it. I will sometimes give it a shot and say something like, “”Is it Mr. Bu LOAN ya” (for Bologna), as I did Sunday night. The wife perked up and said, with a note of puzzlement and happiness, “You said it exactly right! Nobody ever gets it right”! I turned to the husband and said, “Well, there’s the actor Joe Bologna, so I figured it was probably the same”. what I didn’t say is what i was thinking, “Would people actually think it was Bu LOAN ee like the lunch meat”?

Start doing these simple things and I think you’ll see better tips. At the very least, you’ll feel a more personal connection with your tables and it will help you recognize and greet guests who come back. It might help you build your call party list.

Quick hint

Sometimes we as waiters will pre-print a ticket right around dessert time in order to have the check ready to present to the guest in case they don’t get dessert. This is a way to be efficient, but we have to be careful about getting rid of the ticket should they get dessert or coffee. Otherwise, you could be on the hook for those items ordered after you printed the check. This seems like basic common sense, but it’s easy to forget to reprint the check and get rid of the earlier check, especially if you get busy or are juggling several tables with pre-printed checks. It’s also easy to print the new check but not get rid of the old one and accidentally present the wrong check to the guest.

So, get in the habit of reprinting the check each time that you order something and get rid of the previous check. I’ve had to reprint a check as many as three times and each time, I’ll make sure that I throw away the previous check.

Also, get in the habit of checking the check to make sure that you’ve rung in all coffees, espressos or anything that you don’t get from a chit from the kitchen or the bar, i.e. anything that you or your server assistant prepares yourself.

Quick Tip

In these less-than-stellar financial times, sometimes you just need a little motivation and support.

An easy way to get it is to print up an extra copy of the bill from a great table that you had and keep it in your server book. It might be a deuce that spent a fortune, or it might be someone who gave you a great tip.

Seeing that in your order book (if you keep one) is a great way to reconnect with feelings of success and postiveness.