Ten Bad Server Habits To Break

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bad server habits

I'm not talking about this type of habit.

I spend a fair amount of time on the sister site of this blog discussing guest behaviors that annoy servers.  I am sometimes a guest as well.  On the occasions when I take my tips and spend them at a restaurant, I expect quality service.  While I tend to not critique servers, there are definitely habits that I see in other servers that make me cringe.  If they annoy me, I can guarantee they annoy your guests.  In an effort to help you improve you tips, I am sharing some of the ways servers often harm their tip. 

Here are ten habits that you must overcome if you want to provide exceptional service.

Asking me to keep my fork:  This translates loosely in the guest’s mind to, “I am going to be too lazy to get you a new fork, so please leave yours on the table I was too lazy to sanitize until you need to put it back into your mouth.”

Taking my glass to get me a refill:  The only thing worse than a beverage being low is not having a beverage because you just took it away.

Reading a list of ingredients in the special:  I want to know how the special tastes, not just the components.  Describe the dish instead of giving me the recipe.

Setting down menus and walking away:  This shows a negative level of hospitality.  All that is required is a simple “enjoy your meal.”  If you can’t even muster that, you are in the wrong field.

Making me ask for a refill:  If my glass is low or empty, bring me a refill.  You don’t need to ask, just bring it.  Better to leave some in the glass at the end of the meal than need a drink, but have an empty glass.

Saying “I don’t know”:  I am not saying that you have to know, but the proper response is, “I can find out.”  One indicates that you don’t care the other shows you do care.

Lying about your food:  It is insulting.  You don’t know that I can tell the difference between oysters from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  There is no such thing as a 35 day dry aged filet.  Tell the truth and let me make the decision.

Leaving trash on the table:  I will not keep the empty sugar packets or straw wrapper as a souvenir.  Please take them away before dropping the check.

Making me ask for plates with my appetizer:  If there are more than two guests at the table, bring appetizer plates.  If the two people at the table do not seem comfortable sharing bodily fluids, bring plates to them as well.

Asking if I want change:  Just state, “I will be back with your change.”  This gives me the chance to tell you that I don’t need any.  It isn’t your money yet and this is a bad time to give bad service.

If you do any of these 10 things, please stop immediately.  Your guests deserve better service and you deserve the tips that come as a result of providing it.  I am not trying to bash servers with this post, but I am asking you to raise your level of service.  It is tough to be a server and guests expect great service if they are going to part with their money.  Avoiding these ten mistakes puts you well on your way to creating highly satisfied guests and improving your income.

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4 Responses to Ten Bad Server Habits To Break

  1. Joe November 21, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    Very right on as usual. I kind of hate that you tell people these things, because when I do them, I like the guests to think they’ve got a really good server!

  2. April November 21, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    I enjoyed this I have to say. I am pretty tough on my servers when I go out. I have friends/family who say I’m a bit picky but I look at it as this is the job they have chosen to do, so they might as well do it WELL. I understand that everyone has an “off” day and no one is perfect but none the less, I am there to spend my money that I had to perform my job to get so please earn your as well. If I may add to your list of 10, one of my all time biggest pet peeves is having someone other than my server bring my food out and then not seeing my server again for like 10 minutes. What happens if something is wrong with my food or missing from my plate? I just sat there for 10 minutes while everyone else was enjoying theirs and was waiting on someone to come and fix mine! :)

  3. Becky November 23, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    I will add #11: As I leave, please tell me thank you – I worked really hard to earn the chunk of change I just spent in your place of work and on your tip and I’d like to know you’re glad I came to YOUR chicken place to drop it on you. If you’re not there or are at another table, I understand – couldn’t one of your fellow servers do it? I like to know I’m appreciated and sometimes I need a pat on the back for being generous. If I leave a place and not one soul thanks me as I walk out the door, I’ll never go back. Period.

  4. Joy November 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    What really gets me is watching the waitress or waiter clean a table off and gather up the glasses on the table by sticking their fingers inside the glasses.
    Not even 1 minute later deliver my food. I know damn well they did not wash their hands and now all the germs from the former guests are now on my plate. I walk out of a restaurant when I see this never to return but I make sure in a nice way to let the manager know why I am leaving. 9 times out of 10 the manager has no idea what I am talking about. Sanitation 101

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