Last week Liv expressed interest in my extensive (HA, not at all) waitressing experience and since I pretty much live and breathe waitressing on the weekend and it is all I can think about, I am going to make you think about it too 🙂
I think waitressing is a great skill to have, especially if you want to work and travel, or if you’re crazy like me and move to a completely new country where you don’t know a single person one week before starting your full-time study and you need to worry about that little thing known as rent.
I also think it is great because it has really opened my eyes to what is going on when I am a customer in a restaurant, and I feel like I enjoy the service even more now because I know how hard they are all working.
When I first started waitressing, I had no idea what to do. I literally googled “how to waitress”, watched an episode of Two Broke Girls, and jumped on board. FYI, Two Broke Girls work in a diner which is a slightly different setting to a nice French restaurant, and also I’m pretty sure if I talked to customers like they do I would get fired. I felt like I was really out of my depth because I only knew what I had seen in movies and there wasn’t that much info online about the actual practicalities of waitressing. Let’s just say it has been a steep learning curve 🙂
(Photo from here, and the article is awesome too)
I am definitely not the best waitress (everyone I work with is very patient 😉 ), but I try really hard and so here is what I have learnt so far.
How to waitress:
1) Be systematic. Most restaurants have a table numbering system- when I write down someone’s order on my paper I write down the table number too and then cross it off when I have put it in the computer. This helps because I can find their order if I need to go back and look at it.
2) Focus and write shizzle down. Sometimes five different tables will ask for something at once. I have realised that my brain cannot handle trying to remember all this, and that is ok. I write everything down now so nothing gets forgotten; people don’t like having to ask twice.
3) When putting orders in the computer, take your time. Often I have felt rushed to do this, tried to get it in quickly, and then made a mistake with the order. Finally my boss said to me that it doesn’t matter if it takes me thirty seconds longer, just make sure it is correct. This really helped because I felt like the pressure was off and I could take that extra thirty seconds and it wouldn’t make a difference for the time frame but it would mean that the person got the correct thing they ordered.
4) Access your charm. I think it really helps to be genuine with your customers, be yourself, and be friendly. I love to talk to people and get to know them a little- often once you start up a bit of conversation with them you can build some rapport and this is a win win because they have a better time and so do I. I often end up talking with people because they ask me where my accent is from (I have a kiwi accent but it is weirdly American- my sisters is the same and we think it come from our mum being Dutch). Once the ball is rolling it is really nice to have a few laughs with your customers and
I also like to try and remember little things they mention and ask about them later on (my brain is usually pretty fried by talking to so many people so this is more for quiet nights).
5) Go the extra mile. If it is someone’s birthday I make sure that the kitchen adds a candle to their dessert, or if it is their anniversary I make sure we do something for that too. Take special requests seriously. It helps that the restaurant I work at is lovely and tries to make people’s time there special.
6) Bring a snack. Okay so I don’t really do this but I need to start doing it. Usually the shift lasts three to five hours, in which time we don’t have a break because you just serve customers until they have all left. If the only meal I have had is breakfast and then I waitress from midday till 4pm ish, I am pretty darn hungry at this time. Something quick like a banana or muesli (granola) bar that I can eat in two seconds would definitely help.
7) Be groomed. We wear all black at my work, but I love to try and tame my crazy hair as best I can, wear some lippy, and add a bit of subtle jewellery. I think it makes me look more put together and shows I take the job seriously and am trying to look nice for it.
8) Wear something comfortable. My waitressing dress is actually a bit too big for me, but this is awesome as it means more air flow and also that I can take some nice deep breaths in it when shizzle is getting crazy in the restaurant. If it was very fitting it would probably look nicer, but to me looking a tiny bit less nice (which I doubt customers would notice anyway) is worth it for the added comfort.
I would also like to say a special thank you to my parents, who funded my “I’m a serious waitress now” shoes. These bad boys have made all the difference, and my feet are very grateful.
9) Do yoga. Seriously. People often say to me how calm I am, and that is because I have a continual deep breathing/”I’m a yogi and am going to practice kindness to this person who just yelled at me” mantra going on in my head. It is something that I try to work on every time I waitress. Running also helps because I have a nice little endorphin high to power me through a shift. Yoga and running also both help me to unwind after a shift and feel refreshed.
Have you waitressed before?
What can you add to my list that might be helpful for us waitresses?
What other jobs have you done? – I have been a plant nursery worker, supermarket deli girl, an extra in TV shows/movies, aged care giver, call centre operator, book store worker, nanny, special needs worker, mental health worker, counsellor, professional fairy (that was a good time), and now a waitress. I am skilled in many a field apparently 😉