I’m a Waiter, Not a Salesman!

Customers appreciate your positive attitude. They prefer to buy from those they like and those that have their best interest at heart. Here’s a post adapted from my book that shows it works in the restaurant industry.

Assume the sale. This is one of those phrases that is drilled into the head of any good salesperson. “They will love our product, I know they will. Just keep listing all the benefits of our product, and they will have to buy it. So, just assume that you will make the sale and ask them for their order,” says the hungry sales manager boss.

I'm a waiter, not a salesman

Well, I don’t want you to be a hungry sales guy, at least not at this point. But I do want you to assume the sale. Here’s what I mean.

Those well-spoken-of and restaurant industry standard “two minutes or two bites” has quickly passed as you make your way to table #22. As you reach there, you scan the plates to see if the four guests are enjoying their meal.

You say something like this:

  • “Is everything okay”?
  • “I hope you are enjoying the salmon”

No, no, man, that’s all wrong. It’s the worst way to check on a guest. Don’t you know that everything is okay? Were you paying attention? Why would you “hope” they like their salmon? This leaves doubt in the mind of the customer.

If you really were paying attention you would have checked on the dish before it left the kitchen. You would have made sure all the items on the plate are fresh and prepared the way the guest ordered.

When you are checking back with the guest, this is what I expect from you…

ALWAYS assume that their meal was exceptional and that they are happy with it.

As a server, you should be confident that the meal you presented to your guest is of the highest quality. You expect them to enjoy it.

Use terms like:

  • “I’m glad to see that you are enjoying your meal, is there anything else I may get for you?”
  • “You made a great choice with that sea bass. I’m glad to see you liked it as well”.
  • “I can tell by the smile on your face you are enjoying the steak. Don’t forget to save some room for one of our great desserts”.

Can you think of any other statements that may be appropriate?

Okay, I’ve been in this business too long to leave this post at this point. Many of you are probably saying “Sure, it’s easy for you to say just be confident the meal is of the highest quality, blah blah blah”. But you don’t have to work with MY kitchen. They’re terrible!”

“The cooks are always getting the orders wrong, we are always running out of items, and the managers don’t do a damn thing about it”.

Well it sounds like your property is a loser. If this is the case, you probably aren’t enjoying yourself or making big tips anyway.  So  why are you still working there? You are better than that. All the training in the world can’t help you if your restaurant isn’t there to back it up. You can’t win, no way.

It’s time to move on. Move on to another restaurant, bar, or hotel that appreciates your skills, your service and your mindset.

You want to be the weakest server in the company.  When that’s the case, you will be surrounded with the best in the business and you can only get better.  They will push you each day.

You will learn additional skills from your co-workers every time you walk through that door. Skills that will also help you to be your best. Those from your old job will still be working for peanuts, and you will move on to bigger and better things.

You will work with other professionals like yourself and will be proud of your job, your career, and, most of all, proud of yourself as a person.

Put yourself on a path to be successful and do it!


This post is adapted from the author’s bookEarn More Tips On Your Very Next Shift…Even If You’re a Bad Waiterand is reprinted here with permission.


Copyright © 2017 Steve DiGioia

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2 thoughts on “I’m a Waiter, Not a Salesman!

  1. Steve, it is true that a “hard sell” is –pardon the pun — distasteful to many people- be they patrons at a restaurant or elsewhere. I have never been a waitress, but I have worked in places where the sale is seen as the be all and end all of the experience. Believe me when I say that I was uncomfortable being pushy and I went seeking a better position as soon as I was able! One last thought….my suggestion to a restaurant patron would be more like this:
    ” I see that you (and your party )have enjoyed your entree(s). We have some very tasty desserts on hand – would you like to see our dessert menu to conclude your stay with us?”

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