HOSPITALTIY 101! The Waitstaff

Nancy Anderson
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The waitstaff, the waiters, waitresses and host or hostess of a dining facility will literally make or break the ability of that business to merely compete or even stay in business! There are individualized internal and external f actors and actions that affect the efficiencies of the waitstaff. Some of the internal factors are as follows:

Appearance - As the saying goes, "you only get one chance to make a good first impression. The clothes you wear, the shape they are in, the style of dress is a reflection on you and speaks volumes about who you are. We would be remiss if we did not mention that infallible personal hygiene has an undeniable affect on the first impression as well! Moderate or conservative dress is always the "safe, non offensive choice!"

Desire - Desire has a far reaching affect on a myriad of actions consistent with the level of hospitality delivered. The desire of an individual has a bearing on many of the physical, verbal attributes and traits we have written about on this website such as smile, body language, information etc. Low or restrained desire, a submissive attitude will have a negative unconscious affect as opposed to a peak desire having a positive ideal affect on the aforementioned actions.

Multitasking - The ability to multitask can positively or negatively affect the customer perception. Waitstaff should never get so immersed in a non service related task that they have no awareness of whats' going on around them. This focus is singular and conveys indifference to the customer. Affective multitasking, undertaking the housekeeping or other necessary tasks while still subtly acknowledging the customer, puts them at ease and imparts the belief that they will be served in short order, when ready to be served, but not "shadowed" by an employee creating discomfort when they prefer to relax and converse upon arrival. The fact is multitasking, performing a task other than customer service is a fact of life and a necessity of productivity in the hospitality business. However employees must realize that customers are never secondary to the task at hand. They (the customer) are the reason the waitstaff has a job and the reason the employer is in business!

External Factors -
Scheduling - affects the adequacy and efficiency of the waitstaff. The ability of management to schedule for the normal (keyword), optimum, average and lax periods of business and hire a staff that will work in those periods is tantamount to efficient service and revenue. In other words, not only being aware of projected business with a "macro" track of business by the month, or week but a "micro" track of business by the hour will determine the additional personnel needed or not needed during the lax times. In summation, scheduling will have an immediate affect on the ability to influence revenue, service, income and eventually the attitude of the business and customer perception!

Training - This is another important external factor a hospitality prospect should question and even review. They need to know the time spent on training and the type of training they will be exposed to. Managers need to recognize the importance of training and have the patience and ability to execute it properly.

Visual Presentation and conditions - The space where customers are served must be visually appealing, clean and pleasant. The ambiance affects the energy of the business and the expectations of the client as well as the pride of the waitstaff!

"Top down" - Culture and values of the facility! Employee value, treatment, management expectations etc. must be unambiguous and communicated with regularity and clarity. The staff needs to know in no uncertain terms what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. Management must reinforce this by their actions as well as by the written word. This is the catalyst for external and internal waitstaff attributes, behavior and environment to merge into a totally successful dining facility that pleases the diners!

Barbi Snyder has over 30 years in an array of hospitality oriented businesses and actually managed a large staff in a high end restaraunt in Lake Tahoe. She can be reached for questions at (p) 828 625 4932 or e mail at

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