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10 tips on what makes a great waiter!

Prabhash Bhatnagar
Prabhash Bhatnagar

Hotel Waiter

As a hotel with a restaurant, you would know that a large part of the guest experience depends on the interaction with the waiter. Then, why not have a checklist for the waiting staff at your hotel or restaurant?

Discover 10 tips that make a great waiter:

Menu knowledge

There isn’t anything more annoying than asking your server what the special is and him saying, “I’m so sorry, let me just go and ask the chef”. Arghhhhh. This shows poor preparation, a lack of care, and bad communication.

Love of food

If you ask the server about a dish, he must be able to ‘sell’ it and be excited about it. It is so frustrating for chefs to create amazing dishes and the waiting staff not to share their enthusiasm. It is really up to the servers to sell the dishes, this must be addressed effectively. (Chefs must realize this and take correct measures to ensure it happens.)


Not to be confused with efficiency or manners, it’s just good old friendliness! Being happy that the customer is here, being happy to be serving them, happy to have a job, happy to be busy will all show on your face! Use their name; make sure they know yours. You are responsible for their dining experience; make sure they know that!


Good old fashioned manners are important: p’s and q’s, such as opening doors, pulling out seats, making eye contact and smiling. In other words, putting the customers’ needs and feelings before your own.


Be quick, but be gentle and careful. Don’t rush around noisily. Never stand in the kitchen for long periods of time waiting. You are out of the reach of your customer and are certainly not making the food come out any more quickly!

Attention to detail

Ask yourself; does the plate need to be wiped, is the glass smeary, is the cup chipped, did the coffee spill, are the flowers dead, is the table cloth dirty or does the floor need attention?


Keep your eyes open. Do we need a high chair? Are we short of a seat? Does the water glass need to be filled? Is the customer wondering where the toilets are? Are they not eating their meal for some reason? Are they trying to catch your eye? Are they looking around for something? Would they prefer another table? We should be able to catch any and every clue that the customer needs our attention.


A great waiter must be an organized waiter, managing time and tables. Which will be ready first, who is in a hurry, what could be quicker for the chef to prepare and therefore could be recommended? Who has more time and may be is happy to wait a little longer?

Team player

Waiters need each other to be efficient, and waiters must have a good relationship with the chefs. It can NOT be an ‘us and them’ situation. That would without doubt lead to miserable staff and an eventual failure! A waiter must stay in constant communication with managers, fellow team members and chefs.


Essentials include cleanliness of the station, crockery & cutlery, table as well as personal cleanliness. There is absolutely no excuse for failure in this area. This is the second most common complaint in the hospitality and catering industry, the first being staff unfriendliness. Both of these complaints cost nothing to remedy.

About the Author:

Joanna HallJoanna’s motto is Simple Excellence. Having grown up in the hospitality industry, she knows the trade inside out. Her passion is ‘customer experience’, and helping you improve this for your customers. As far as she is concerned, there is no excuse for poor customer service! She provides solutions, advice, assessment, inspiration, training and support in the customer service industry, specializing in hospitality and catering.

Her other passions in life are nutrition and fitness. When she is not working or training, you will find her enjoying the great outdoors with her daughter and friends. Connect with Joanna on or drop her an email on

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