How simple staff mistakes can harm your business

In this article we outline a few of the most common waiter mistakes and how they can be avoided.

Waiters and servers have it rough. There are a million and one things happening if you’re lucky, and if you’re unlucky, everything has stopped, and it’s your fault. Its high stress, high pressure, and one of the most under-rewarded jobs in the world.

That said, there is no reason that you can’t avoid a few of the most common waiter mistakes we outline in this article. We’ll show you how to beat rough seating arrangements, difficult customers, and being exhausted so you can maximise tips and customer satisfaction.

Let’s get into the five most common waiter mistakes:

  • Not personalising the experience
  • Learn how to be centred
  • Not reading their table
  • Not working the table
  • Balancing time poorly

Not personalising the experience

There’s nothing worse than coming into a restaurant, getting seated, and having your server read a script off to you mechanically. It undermines the magic of going out to eat and enjoying a meal in a restaurant.

When your customers come in, you should greet them with as much fluidity as possible. Talk to them as if they are friends or family, and they are finally home. Find out their names, what they like, they dislike any allergies within reason. People go out to enjoy a good meal and be social, just make sure you don’t cross the boundaries.

Learn how to be centred

The most valuable skillset a waiter can have is being able to maintain their cool and remain centred. Even the best waiters in the world have to deal with issues. Whether its the kitchen messing up an order, long wait times, or a mistake on your part, the worst thing you can do is throw gas on the fire by panicking.

The calmer you are, the easier it will be to handle the problem. There are few problems if any, that can be solved by panicking.

Not reading their table

Adept waiters know how to read their table. Some require more conversation to be at ease. Others want little attention and to be left alone. You need to be able to know what your table wants before they want it. If you don’t, they may try and control their night, and that’s when the problems arise because frankly, most customers have no idea what they want.

Not working the table

Working the table is important. Its the only way that your customer or patrons can remove themselves from the responsibility of orchestrating their experience. A good server isn’t just someone that takes orders, but matches and enhances customers nights or daily meals through fitting their taste to whats on the menu.

The servers that make the most money are also the ones that know how to upsell. Working the table means balancing being an advisor as well as a salesman, and if you can manage it, an entertainer.

Balancing time poorly

The worst thing a server can be bad at is time management. Time is of the essence during rushes. You need to be able to know when to punch in starters, main courses, drinks or dessert with enough time for your customers to get what they want, without the kitchen being overloaded.

If you can’t balance your time well, there will be missed orders, angry customers, and frustrated managers having to comp meals.

To wrap things up, if you learn to master even a few of these problems, you’ll be leagues ahead of most servers. It is a skillset like any other and is one that takes practice and patience. In time, you’ll be able to fly through problems without any hiccups.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of and from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.