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What to Look for in Your Wait Staff

If you run a restaurant or a café then you know that customers don’t just come for the great food or coffee, they come for the experience. They come to your restaurant to get away from cooking, for a special occasion, or for a change. Your serving staff is central to this experience, so knowing what to look for when hiring them is important. We’ve compiled a list of some of the vital characteristics wait staff need, and what you can ask to determine if a potential candidate has them.

First Impressions
First impressions matter. If the candidate doesn’t make a good impression on you; what kind of impression will they make on your customers? Your serving staff act as the face of the establishment. When arriving at an interview, candidates should have a neat personal presentation. Cleanliness is of paramount importance to anywhere food or drink is served and prospective staff should reflect this.

Punctuality
Nobody likes to be kept waiting. You probably have a million interviews to get through so one interviewee being late is holding up the whole show. Customers also don’t like to have to wait for their food, and the rest of your waiters and waitresses don’t want to have to wait to finish their shift; so, punctuality is crucial in potential wait staff.

Communication
Communication is the key skill of any serving employee. They need to be friendly and approachable as well as being able to clearly communicate menu items. Some of this can be down to staff training, learning the menu well and learning kitchen shorthand, but personality also has a role to play. Confidence and friendliness are important parts of being in the serving industry. Dining is not just about the food; it is the entire experience and atmosphere of a restaurant. Wait staff who are unable to interact with customers, are unlikely to be very effective at their job meaning a less positive atmosphere. Good communication skills and a positive attitude are often more important than experience in a role. You can be taught parts of the job, but you can’t manufacture a good attitude and excellent conversational skills.

Level Headed
Wait staff have to deal with a lot, from something going wrong with an order to difficult customers; and this is why you need your waiters and waitresses to stay level headed. Wait staff should always remain calm, polite and, above all, professional under pressure. A level-headed waiter can mean the difference between a customer being happy and having an overall positive experience or a manager being called in and the customer never returning to your restaurant. You can teach staff members the process to follow in a difficult situation but a question about how candidates handled these situations in the past is a must. Perhaps even consider having a role play scenario in the interview in which the prospective employee must turn around a negative situation. Processes will only do so much if your staff member is unable to keep their cool.

Training
At the end of the day, the personality of your staff will only get them so far, it’s important to make sure they are properly trained. Have a member of staff show them the ropes when they start. Seeing them work with a member of your existing staff also gives you a good sense of whether they are going to fit in with the team. Training can be an expensive process, but waiters and waitresses act as the face of your restaurant, so it’s important to have adequate training. Having the right staff means more customers and higher profits. If you are concerned that your cash flow would struggle with onboarding and training costs at the moment, a cash advance is a good flexible short-term finance option. This option works with your business as repayments are taken as a percentage of your daily card sales. This takes the pressure off your cash flow and means that the loan works with the flow of your business.

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