Time Management – Do it or get F*@$ED!

A servers number one asset is time.  Time allows you to get everything done.  The management of time is a crucial element to successful table waiting.  From the time it takes for the table to get seated, to the time it takes for the server to arrive and say hello there is an internal clock running in every customers mind once they enter the restaurant.  For some people their time is crucial and they want everything to be done quickly and for others their internal clock runs much slower and they want to relax when they are sitting down to eat.  But, no matter what type of customer you have, the standards of the restaurant are in place to satisfy everybody.  

Normal wait time for drinks, appetizers, and entrees are so standardized across the industry that almost every customer subconsciously knows what to expect for delivery time.  People will start to get uncomfortable when these times are exceeded no matter what type of customer they are.  For those people in a hurry or those who like to eat and leave, they are more sensitive to things taking longer than they should.  Even the slow casual table will still feel like the food should be there in a timely fashion.  Do not be deceived that the slow casual eater will be OK with the food taking longer, they much rather have their food and savor every bite on their own time.   It gives them something to talk about with their party and they may be prone to eating very slowly, but it doesn’t mean they want to wait longer than the next table for their food. 

                Customers don’t like to wait.  I know that I do not like to wait when I go out, so I would imagine that most people share similar traits.  As a server, there will be twenty things going on in your section that you need to address at any given time, but your management of those things in the right order will benefit you as you manage your time.  There will be things that some customers may want immediately and others that they will want when you get a chance.  This phrase is not an excuse to put something off; it is a chance to go beyond expectations.  You want to fulfill every request immediately!  If you chose to accept a table’s request for something when you get a chance the likelihood that you will forget to fulfill their request increases.  It is best to fulfill all requests when asked no matter how nicely your table asks you.  This can elevate you perceived attention to your table when you act quickly. 

There will be times when the restaurant is slow and you have more time to fill customer’s needs, take this time to make sure everything is running smoothly in the restaurant.  As your manager will probably point out, there is always something that can be done.  You are at work to work, and how your place works is up to you.  There is nothing more irritating for you as a server to have a request by a table but when you go to get it, it isn’t there.  Make sure that all the extra stuff is stocked up.  Make sure that you are not the only one who is trying to make your restaurant a clean and efficient place to work.  If you start a task, ask someone to help you or if you see an area of the restaurant that needs attention, see if anyone wants to tackle a project with you.  Down time is a good time to chit chat and build friendship. 

Also, by taking some initiative, your managers will mentally note that you go above and beyond even when times are down.  Positioning yourself in your work environment to receive favoritism isn’t sucking up.  It is letting your boss know that you are serious and you deserve a little extra attention.  Every restaurant has a floor plan that is cut into different sections and everyone knows that some sections are more lucrative than others, so make yourself known and the chances of you landing the better sections will increase.  Manage your time, and you will see the rewards.

When you are working a busy shift, your time becomes even more valuable.  There are so many interactions and actions that happen all at once and the movement of people, food, plates, drinks and menus all need to happen in a smooth manner.  The old saying of full hands in and full hands out can really make a difference to how the restaurant is running.  Some restaurants have food runners and others require servers to run all the food.  If this is the case, then make sure you are doing your part to get the expo window clear as soon as possible.  You may not consider that the food in the window has an effect on how long it will take your food to come out, but it does.  The faster the restaurant is moving the faster you will get what you need. Some servers like to bitch and moan about problems instead of trying to fix them. 

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Published by: Harvey Hale

Harvey is a yoga instructor and freelance writer. He has studied many types of body awareness classes from Shito Ryu Karate (national champion), ballroom dancing, acting, track and field (hurdles), snowboarding, fitness training and yoga. With his extensive knowledge in anatomy and nutrition he aims to help people understand how to perform at their peak potential and guide everyone he meets to becoming a better reflection of who they already are.

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