Menu knowledge is a very important part about being a good server. While it may seem like an enormous task to memorize a menu, you chose to work in this field because the money is good and you don’t have a lot of time to spend at work. Learning your menu will give you the right tools to help people make the right decisions when it comes to their meal. Every restaurant we have worked in stresses menu knowledge. Menu knowledge doesn’t mean you have to like everything on the menu, it just means that you have to be prepared to satisfy every customer’s unique tastes. There are plenty of menu items that have not been our favorites, but whether or not something suits your fancy, it can surely suit someone else’s. We are all unique individuals and being able to guide people in the right direction will surely add to your guest’s experience. Selling isn’t about what YOU need to sell; it is about what the customer wants to be sold. You never want to push an item on a customer that doesn’t want it. I’ve seen waiters tell customers that they should have this item or that item and it is obvious that they are pushing certain items because of some kind of contest or suggestion from management. This isn’t fair to the customer and will diminish the kind of experience they have.
Your menu should be your best tool to engage people in creating an experience they will enjoy and want to experience again. You can use your menu to suggest items that will go well together as well as suggest things that your customers should try the next time they visit your restaurant. This is another psychological way to engage your customers to think about coming back in the future as well as encourage them to think about their next experience. Our brains are all programmed based on our experiences. From these experiences we learn what behavior is pleasant and what behavior is unpleasant. It is your job as a waiter to program your customers with pleasant experiences. People enjoy going out to eat and it is more satisfying to spend money on good experiences and good food. The food you suggest is part of the whole experience and it can lead to repeat business. Once you get a few “regulars” then you will notice that you can begin to have a bit of a relationship with those customers. They will come to see you and you will be pleased to see them. Regular customers also tend to tip you better the better they get to know you and your service. It also relieves you of having to do your typical spiel and introduction to the restaurant. For some, you may even get to disregard checking their ID’s for alcoholic beverages. A personal touch goes a long way for customers. The TV show “Cheers” in the 1980’s depicted this in their theme song. “Where everybody knows your name” makes you feel welcome. It can be a home away from home for some.