The four most important skills to have are product knowledge, excellent communication, consolidation and sense of urgency.
I really enjoyed my time working through college as a server and bartender at restaurants. Not only did it give me a foundation to build on with regard to the hospitality industry, but it also taught me priceless lessons in customer service as well as personal finances.
Let me share my thoughts with you and see what you think…
- Instead of a twelve top at table number 24, a two top at number 23 and a four top at table number 22 you have a Wedding Reception for 300 people, a baby shower for 40 people and a high school banquet for 220 more, sometimes all at the same time, forcing you to constantly check in with each host throughout the evening to tend to their want and needs, much like waiting tables.
- The Pre-Shift Sidework you would do at a restaurant to get ready for all the diners—such as making tea, cutting lemons, rolling silverware and opening the wine bottles—is like all the efforts you put into the marketing piece of your business like attending Trade/Bridal Shows, making Bridal Packets, menu planning sessions with the hosts or anything else you would do before the day of the actual event.
- When you look at the guests that are on “a wait” they remind me of all those Brides and Event Hosts that are eager to meet with you and see the club and want to get all the information they can before making their final decision.
- Also regarding the people on wait, they could be seen as people that are ready to book their event with you, but have to see what other dates you have open because the one they really wanted it already booked (much like the table they wanted for dinner is already seated).
In my personal opinion the four most important aspects, or skills, to have to be a successful server are (in no particular order) product knowledge, excellent communication, consolidation and a sense of urgency. Would you agree that these same four elements are also found in those of us that are successful in the world of catering sales?
No matter what you do, you have got to know about the product you are selling. As a server it is a huge benefit to be educated about not only the food, but also the liquor, beer, wine and anything else the guests are able to purchase. I remember one salad we used to offer had twenty-two different ingredients. If a guest were to ask me, “Does the Champagne Salad have mandarin oranges because I am allergic?”, I’d need to know the answer right away. If I was unable to answer immediately that means I would have to stop taking the order locate a manager and ask them. Once I found out the correct response, I would then return to the table and respond yes or no. Time is money especially if you are on a wait. That one exchange could have cost me, but had I known the answer then I would have simple said yes and moved on.
In addition, if you do not know your liquors, how are you able to upsell a martini from a “House Martini” make with well vodka at $6 each to a Grey Goose Martini made with a premium vodka at $12 each. A round of four at $6 is $24 but a round at $12 is $48! A 15% tip on the first option is $3.60 verses the second option $7.20 from the same table. If you wait on ten table s a night and are able to sell them this, or something similar, you have already made $72 and we haven’t even ordered dinner yet!
Communication is an easy one. If you do not know what the guests want, you are unable to satisfy their needs. Happy guest leave better tips. Enough said.
You have to learn how to consolidate, too. The trick is every time you enter the kitchen and leave the kitchen you should be carrying something. When you visit one of your tables in the dining room, you should go ahead and “touch” each of the others just in case they need more lemons or more ranch dressing, or a knife or more napkins, or another plate, or more sugar, or … you get the idea. It is easier to make one big trip then eight small trips to and from the kitchen all night long.
The one area that most servers struggle with is their sense of urgency. When it is time to work you have got to go! No standing around. When a guest is about to run out of their soft drink the goal is to refill it without them asking for more soda. When a table leaves you have to clean it, wipe it down and reset it for the next party as soon as you can. The more efficient you are with your workload, the more successful you’ll be.
What other similarities do you see between the two? I would be happy to hear what you have to share.
I hope that helps and until next time, just keep selling!search