12 AUGUST 2019


Beth holds a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.
Restaurant service quality is as important to a business as the taste of the food coming from the kitchen. In this lesson, you’ll learn more about standards, etiquette, and training for restaurant service.
Earning Repeat Customers

Imagine you’re a restaurant owner in a small Midwestern town. You’ve consistently ranked highly in ‘Best of’ awards for your selection, taste, and atmosphere. Your tables are booked solid every night. Word of mouth about your establishment has everyone talking.

But then, something happens.

All of a sudden, the phone stops ringing. The lunch crowd is sparse, and the dinner crowd even worse. A few bad reviews start popping up online. You’re earning fewer honors and accolades for your best dishes. Word of mouth has turned from positive to negative.

What in the world is going on?

For some restaurants, the answer might lie not in the kitchen, but in the dining room itself. Poor service from inattentive or uncaring servers, lack of attention to diners’ needs, and overall inadequate training for staff members can drive potential customers out your doors – and to your competitors.

Let’s examine some service standards, etiquette, and training you can share with your employees to help prevent service problems.

Service Standards

Service standards help to establish interactions between a customer and the business they’re patronizing. In a restaurant, customers expect a level of promptness, friendliness, and exceptional service to their needs that matches their expectations of how they want to be attended to.

A written list of standards for serving and interacting with diners can be useful, if properly conveyed to your staff and implemented throughout a customer’s dining experience. Here are some basics to consider:

Before orders are taken:

Welcome guests with a smile and friendly disposition
Promptly guide guests to their table and ensure everything is comfortable
Provide water, menus, and any complimentary items such as bread rolls or chips upon seating
Allow guests time to look over the menu and be available to answer questions
Take orders in a reasonable amount of time and place the orders immediately with the kitchen

After orders are taken, you should do the following:

Serve food quickly and while hot, ensuring guests are satisfied with what they ordered
Check in on your table routinely, offering beverage refills and handling any concerns
Offer your dessert selection toward the end of the meal
Clear the table of unnecessary dishes, if and when appropriate
Present the check and be certain guest questions have been answered
Thank diners for visiting and say goodbye

Service Etiquette

Good etiquette from a server or wait staff means a set of guidelines, manners, and behaviors followed for a proper dining experience. The simplest rules of etiquette you may remember from childhood are saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Servers can take that one step further with proper etiquette that impresses their guests: