The position of restaurant server is often one of society’s most poorly paid jobs, and it sometimes is regarded as one of the least skilled. But in fact, to do it well you need to employ a whole host of skills at several levels, many of which are transferable to other occupations.
First and foremost you must understand what your customer needs, be prepared to listen to her, and know how to give her a great dining experience. That’s all about developing a rapport, taking a can-do approach and being sensitive to the customer’s mood. Not every customer wants the same sort of service – what’s just right for one may be too intrusive for another. You need excellent people skills to pick up on these differences.
Restaurant servers work in a high-pressure environment. In some regards, you are putting on a performance, and every detail needs to be just right, first time. You need to be highly organized in taking orders, keeping all of your tables going through their meals at just the right pace and clearing in a timely fashion. This requires a good grasp of multi-tasking and time management.
You need to be able to process a bill accurately and handle the customer’s need to pay it promptly. For instance, if a group is paying separately by a variety of cards and cash, you need to deal with this without error. Accuracy in cash-handling, as well as calculating taxes and tips, gives plenty of practice in basic math.
A good restaurant requires a well-coordinated team. The server is the front-desk representative of that team, and he needs to work well with every member, from cooks to bar server to manager in order to make sure that the job gets done to the customer’s satisfaction.