Waiting staff have a lot on their plates – literally.

Far from simply taking and delivering orders, they’re the face of the business; they need to be prompt, friendly, reliable and overtly dedicated to the job.

A poor dining experience can either be their doing or something they can turn around.

Sometimes, it’s a thankless job; often, it’s showered with praise.

But what makes a great waiter or waitress? We think there are ten duties your waiting staff need to master in order to help take your restaurant to even great heights:

1. Menu expertise

“What’s the soup of the day?” is about as simple as diner queries come these days.

Waiting staff should expect questions relating to accompanying sauces, recommended wine choices and even calorie counts. Modern diners will throw all sorts of menu-related queries their way, and they need to be ready with the answers.

2. Memorable welcomes

The dining experience starts from the moment a customer enters the door, and it’s up to the waiting staff to make it as warm and inviting as possible.

3. Tech literacy

We live in a tech literate society, but that doesn’t mean every waiter or waitress is quite as handy as they should be with the technological side of the job.

Modern POS systems are undoubtedly easy to use, but they still require technical nous if issues are encountered during service which should be fixable in-house.

4. Brilliant communication

Waiting staff need to be brilliant at communicating with the kitchen and bar staff.

Any chinks in this particular piece of restaurant armour are immediately obvious, resulting in delayed meals or incorrect orders, therefore an assured, confident approach to communication is vital.

5. An eye for detail

Dented kitchenware, chairs on the verge of collapse and poorly finished dishes are just some of the small things waiting staff need to be attuned to looking out for.

6. Proactive table clearing

No one likes to see a deserted table full of empty glasses and dirty plates.

Equally, no diner should have to wait forever for their table to be cleared.

Great waiting staff rarely have empty hands for a reason.

7. Food prep

While not a regular task, every member of the waiting team should be prepared to get involved in food preparation now and again.

Kitchen teams are often stretched, and if a waiter or waitress can lend a hand by finishing off the presentation of a starter or two, it’ll go a long way.

8. Checking in with diners

Ok, this is something of a corporate phrase, but ‘checking in’ with diners is a task that’s harder to master than you might think.

Too often, and it becomes irritating (“let me get on with my meal, already!”), but too infrequent and customers will feel neglected.

The best waiting staff are those who tread this fine line perfectly and who aren’t afraid to seek bad feedback.

9. Upselling

Ah – there’s that word; a word that strikes fear into the heart of hospitality professionals.

Like it or lump it, upsetting is a vital skill in this industry.

The important thing to remember is that it benefits both the business and the customer; if the waiting staff can unearth upgrades of which the diner wasn’t aware or tempt people to indulge in a pudding, everyone profits.

10. Flexibility

The hospitality industry needs people who value flexible working, and the best workers are those who know how to be dependable.

Wrapping up

The above list isn’t exhaustive, but it represents the key waiting skills required by modern restaurants.

Have we missed something obvious? Tell us in the comments section, below!

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