Finding a job can be challenging. Sometimes we have to do what it takes to get by and work where we can. Throughout my college days, I wanted to make a little bit of cash to fund my hobbies, pay for dates, and help pay for tuition. Therefore, I made the decision to become a waiter at a local stake house!
Although trust me, being a waiter is one of the most rewarding jobs you can have. At least, that’s what I would tell someone that asks if they should be a waiter for a bit.
Being A Waiter In Atlanta
Typically, this job is for younger people working their way through college, or people just looking to make a little extra side cash. Although, being a waiter full time is quite challenging to make a decent living off of. I mean you are potentially setting yourself up to make $0 a working night if the restaurant is slow or you just get unlucky. Not very likely, but I still don’t like those odds.
Therefore, you need to have a good plan for how you are going to make money as a waiter. You need to have a system in place to deal with certain types of customers, and to make sure always get a decent tip. If you can master some of these skills, keep a smile on your face, and remember the correct order, I am fairly sure you will make plenty of money working in a restaurant.
Here are my 5 tips for waiters in Atlanta to survive the difficult and unpredictable restaurant industry.
Ask About Their Visit
This is one of the absolute first things you should do when you greet a table.
It is very simple, but it can tell you a lot about how this table is going to go and what to expect. Typically, I would walk up to a table and say something along the lines of,
“Hi welcome to the Grill, my name is Zach and I will be taking care of you guys. Have y’all dined with us before?”
After that, I would usually say something like this on a Tuesday:
“Any special occasions for dining with us tonight or just celebrating Tuesday?”
They would usually say something like no or something witty which gives me some good information to go off of. You see, I am a witty fellow, and if I am not careful I can quickly turn off a table or make them feel uncomfortable. Throwing out something silly or funny right off the back will usually let me know one of two things:
First, either this table is up for a good time and likes jokes, or second clearly they do not and are just here to eat. Both are fine, but clearly the more you can communicate and interact the a table, the better experience they will hopefully have. The idea is to get people to open up and feel like they are at home!
In addition, if they are there for a special occasion, then you are now aware and can try to get them something for free like a dessert! That was our policy at least.
Suggest A Personal Favorite
The next thing you need to do is – get a feel for what they want to eat, and suggest a personal favorite.
As a waiter representing your restaurant it is completely your job to not only let people know about the menu, but to make personal recommendations about the best menu items. More often than not, the people you are taking care of have only tried a limited number of items on the menu. You on the other hand should be a near expert from eating at the restaurant after most of your shifts like I did.
Your customers really have no chance of knowing the best menu items, but you do. I would almost always chat with my customers about what they are feeling like tonight, suggest a few things they might not have considered, and then cater to what they want but customizing some items. I can not tell you how many times I have just changed around someones order because they just didn’t really know what they wanted.
Now, this can also be a double edge sword, so be careful suggesting certain menu items that might have extremely strong tastes or high prices. I do not think I ever mentioned our most expensive items on the menu to customers. Mainly because the most expensive items were not the best! Ironically, the best things on our menu were usually average priced, and people looked over them.
In addition to suggesting a delicious meal, you build trust with the customer. From doing so, that person will probably tip you better, and be more open to chatting with you next time they come in!
Say Thank You Not You’re Sorry – Use Your Manger
Whew, this is a rough one. If you work in a restaurant then you know that people get angry about the silliest things.
I was fortunate enough to work at a higher end restaurant, but even there I got cussed out a time or two. Not a lot, but I can distinctively remember a customer cussing me out because he didn’t like his salad. He’s honestly lucky no one did anything to it after we brought him three new ones.
Although, there are methods to prevent people from getting angry. One of those is taught pretty often these days, and it is to say “Thank you for your patience” instead of saying “Oh, I am so sorry.”
This might sound silly, but what it does psychologically is amazing. When you thank someone and act genuine about it, even when they are being rude, it almost resets their mind in a way. It makes them think, differently in terms of being praised and how they should be acting.
Although, when you say, “Oh, I am so sorry” it is an enabling phrase. What this does to someone is mentally lets them know, they are in the right, and they are allowed to act intolerably.
Don’t Always Upsell
Like mentioned above, you do not always want to sell the most expensive items.
Most of the time if you try to do this, the customer will immediately ignore you and you lose trust with them. Remember, this is a human being you are dealing with, and you have a very limited amount of time with that person. In that time you need to establish trust, well being, and purpose. You must give them honest suggestions for their benefit, not for a higher tip.
Likewise, you need to establish a sense of well being for the person. You do this by being genuine and asking things like how their meal came out, if there is anything you could do for them, how their day has been. Things that just confer a sense of interest in their well being will also help.
The last point is to establish a purpose for the visit. It is very easy to just get caught up and waste a lot of time at a table. While this is great, you actually do not want a table lingering around for too long. Also keep the meal on track with what comes next, and make the meal move of a journey for them just to relax on.
Sometimes if a table had been hanging out too long, I would just drop off the receipt and say something simple like, “No rush, I just want this here for y’all when you are ready. If you need anything else, I would be happy to help you!”
Simple and concise is best to keep the meal moving forward.
Create Regulars – Remember Names
The last tip I would give is to get to know your customers.
This may take a while especially if you are working at a new location or just getting hired. Although, I would start from the very get go of making a point to learn some of your customer’s names. I would say around 20% – 30% of the guests I had at my restaurant became regulars over time that I would see at least every other week.
That is actually a pretty common thing, and if you pay attention you will start to see trends of when certain people come in. It was always fascinating to me, but it allowed me to meet and get to know some pretty incredible people. Funny enough, I got to know one of the richest people in Georgia, I got to know the guy that help contracted a lot of the development for the airport, and I got to meet a famous celebrity that would come in often with her grandma.
You truly do not know who you will get to meet, but out of all of those people – they were not my favorite. My two favorite couples that I got to know were elder couples. One gentleman would sit and drink a full pot of coffee and tell me about his days at West Point.
The other gentleman of the other couple would tell me amazing stories of his life and joke casually with me. I can honestly say, it was a pleasure to get to know my regulars and become a small part of their lives.
I suggest doing this. It will make your job so much more rewarding and give you people to not only serve food for, but to care for.
Tips For Waiters in Atlanta
These are my tips for Atlanta waiters. They might be obvious to some, but to other they may seem unthinkable. Take the time to develop your people skills, develop your understanding of psychology and interaction, and build your network while you’re at it.
Working at a restaurants is a gift that I learned to appreciate looking back on. You might just do the same one day.