Key Food Server Skills (With Definition, Examples And Tips)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 13 June 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
A food server is responsible for taking orders of food and beverages from the patrons of a restaurant and serving their food to them. These professionals work in tandem with kitchen staff and restaurant managers to provide excellent customer service. If you are interested in pursuing this profession, knowing about a food server's skills can help you to develop them and work efficiently. In this article, we learn what food server skills are, explore some ways to improve them and find out how to highlight them on a resume.
What Are Food Server Skills?
Food server skills are the abilities that enable you to explain the menu to restaurant patrons, communicate with other restaurant team members and ensure that you fulfil the orders quickly and accurately. Greeting customers, recommending items from the menu and solving customer service issues are some responsibilities where you can apply your serving skills. Top skills for a food server include strong interpersonal capabilities for communication, patience when serving customers and technical knowledge to operate point of sale (POS) systems to receive bill payments from customers.
These skills allow a food server to clear and set tables, submit orders and maintain various food safety measures. Hiring managers assess these skills to determine if an individual is suitable for the position of food server.
Examples Of The Skills For A Food Server
A food server possesses hard, soft and technical skills to succeed in their profession. They learn hard skills, like how to operate the cash register at the restaurant, through training where they learn about specific processes. They also develop soft skills to improve their ability to interact with others and manage their responsibilities. Here are the examples of some skills for a food server:
Basic mathematics skills
By knowing basic mathematics, an individual may efficiently count, add, subtract, multiply and divide. For a food server, these skills have practical applications, like determining how much time a patron's meal may take to be served at the table, finding out cooking measurements and calculating bill amounts. Possessing these mathematics skills helps a food server to perform these functions quickly and accurately.
When you possess excellent communication skills, you can write, listen and speak effectively. A proficient food server understands the importance of talking with their customers clearly and confidently when taking orders and answering questions. These skills allow them to explain different ingredients of the dishes and describe the flavours of these dishes to the customers. Active listening is also an important aspect of communication for servers because it helps them understand questions from patrons and engage with them respectfully during conversations.
Customer service in the hospitality industry is crucial to boosting the profitability of a business. When a food server possesses customer service skills, they are better able to fulfill customers' needs professionally and promptly. Greeting patrons politely, answering questions patiently and addressing complaints calmly are some elements of excellent customer service. Good customer service keeps the customers satisfied and ensures high customer repeat rates.
You employ problem-solving skills as a server when you encounter an issue with a customer's order or dining experience. To devise solutions, consider all your options to determine the best possible solution for a situation. Effective problem-solving involves finding solutions quickly and ensuring that these solutions deliver positive outcomes. A food server employs these skills to keep customers happy, along with improving workflows at the restaurant.
A food server communicates with chefs and works in collaboration with kitchen staff to meet the common goals of an establishment. They coordinate with their colleagues to solve different problems and complete many tasks quickly. Being able to work as a team helps servers support their co-workers and serve all restaurant patrons efficiently. When a food server employs these skills in a workplace, they ensure a positive work environment.
Stamina is an individual's mental capacity and physical strength to endure stressful activities. A food server's job requires them to stand and walk for long hours to complete their tasks. They deal with many people, which requires them to keep their minds composed and maintain temperament throughout their entire meal service. An efficient food server remains upbeat, handles stress well and succeeds in dealing with discomfort. Having stamina can help servers limit both physical and mental fatigue during their shifts.
Related: Hard Skills: Definition And Examples
How To Improve Skills For A Food Server
There are several steps you may take during and outside of work to enhance your skills for a food server. These professionals may often improve these skills through on-the-job training, but also spend considerable time practising the duties and memorising information. Here are some steps you may review to improve your skills for a food server:
1. Making the first impression
Making a positive first impression is a great way to enhance customer service, so practice how to greet customers with a friend, a family member or in a mirror. Providing a good first impression includes making eye contact and smiling when introducing yourself or speaking with patrons to take their food orders. Being presentable and having a neat appearance is another way to make a good first impression.
2. Practising at home
A food server works in a fast-paced restaurant setting where being error-free is important for creating a positive dining experience. Practising and mastering the many food server duties before you perform them at the job help you to avoid mishaps. Consider carrying trays or plates around before your first shift to help improve your agility and balance. You can also watch videos on the internet to learn how to pour beverages or clear tables efficiently.
3. Memorising the menu
You confidently give food and drink suggestions to customers when you understand the menu of a restaurant. To memorise the menu, review the restaurant's food and beverage options carefully. Make flashcards to learn the menu so you can quickly answer a customer's queries. Knowing details like the day's special dish, side dishes, ingredients the chef uses to prepare a particular dish, vegetarian or gluten-free dishes and wine pairings help you add to the experience of patrons.
4. Enhancing communication skills
One of the important parts of the job in this profession is talking with customers. Improving your communication skills can help you improve your conversational skills and enhance their experience. Practice talking with a friend using a genial tone, appropriate words and proper grammar. There are several public speaking courses you may enrol in to improve your verbal skills and confidence. Prepare a set of greetings you may use to greet customers along with devising some conversation starters. You may also seek help from an experienced colleague to enhance these skills.
Ways To Highlight Skills For A Food Server
Showing examples of how you have utilised your skills for a food server to enhance patrons' dining experience may increase your chances of impressing a hiring manager. Focus on the roles where you employed your customer service skills when applying for food server jobs. Here are some steps you may follow to highlight your skills as a food server on your resume and cover letter or during a job interview:
On a resume
Describe on your resume how you can apply your knowledge of food service to improve the customer experience. In your resume's skills section, highlight the capabilities that make you a proficient food server in a bulleted list. Here is an example:
August 2016 - October 2020
Maintained a pleasant and friendly attitude to greet and talk with patrons
Learnt and understood the menu to give patrons some splendid suggestions
Worked in a fast-paced environment and effectively collaborated with colleagues
Paid strong attention to detail when setting tables, refilling drinks and serving food
Remained prompt to attend to patrons or resolve their order issues by employing problem-solving skills
Showed proficiency in using POS systems and handling cash
In a cover letter
A cover letter allows you to list your qualifications and achievements in detail. In this document, discuss your strengths as a service industry professional and discuss how your passion for being a server helped you develop your skills. Write examples of how your skills in food service helped you effectively carry out different duties:
Example: "I find pleasure in engaging with my guests and strive to initiate friendly conversations with each patron. This allows me to personalise their experience. These traits have helped the bistro gain regular customers who request my services".
During a job interview
During a job interview, hiring managers ask questions related to your skills and how you applied them in the workplace. Staying composed, using active listening and addressing the interviewer with respect helps you to show your ability to handle stressful situations, which you can apply to work in a restaurant with patrons. When answering interview questions, mention examples of specific situations where you applied your skills:
Example: "Sometimes you have to work with demanding customers. When they show frustration, I try to empathise with them to give them solutions and keep them satisfied. One time, a customer was upset because her meal was cold. I did not question it and requested the chef to prepare the meal again. I asked them to wait for a few minutes and shorty, I served her a hot meal. I also brought her a free dessert to improve her dining experience".
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