Waiting tables can be a lot more stressful than it looks. Anyone who's ever worked the gig knows what I'm talking about. Juggling orders, cheques, drinks, and asshole customers can put a huge strain on you. Still, being a server is your job, so your pretty much paid to put up with all that bullshit. Some servers take it in stride, they know what they're doing and maintain a level of service regardless of the situation. Other servers just plain suck. For some reason, they've lost the will to even remember to refill your coffee or put on a smile. You hate these servers, yet you're still obliged to give them a 15% tip...for some reason. For all the servers in Montreal, and all those who have been spurned by terrible service, here is MTL Blog 's list of what a Montreal waiter/tress needs to do to earn a good tip.
Put A Smile On
Servers can work super long hours, as most restaurants have almost no regulations, or just bypass labour laws entirely. Double or triple shifts are fairly normal, and that takes its toll on a server's mood. Still, that does not give a free pass to be a complete bitch. We get it, your tired, but you're also paid to be courteous and welcoming to customers. Just got broken up with? Tough. Leave your baggage at the door and put a smile on. Even if its fake, at least it wont make people feel horrible for asking you to bring them some bread.
The Importance of Refills
Beverages are as essential to any meal as the food is, more so if you're rocking a liquid-beer diet. If someone orders only a drink, you best be on that refill-watch. Don't think you can neglect a glass only because the tab isn't going to garner a huge tip. Keep the cup empty and there may not be a tip at all. This is especially true during breakfast/brunch, because you know everyone at the table is fiending caffeine. When it comes to coffee refills, go by Mr Pink's rule in Reservoir Dogs: "When I order coffee I want it filled six times."
Don't Smother The Customers
A server-customer relationship is like dating someone, you want to see them, you want them to be around when you want/need them, but you don't want them hanging around ALL of the time. Checking on a table is crucial. Checking on a table every two minutes is plain old smothering. Nothing has changed. The table hasn't instantly hated everything, and the relationship is still going strong, unless you keep getting in everyone's face and not giving the table some 'me-time.' The opposite is also true: be all aloof and unresponsive and it'll garner some customer contempt.
Know Thy Menu
Walking into a new restaurant, especially if its a foreign cuisine or new concept, can be intimidating for customers who have never been. Thankfully, that's what a server is there for, to guide you in all decisions and take you through the menu. In a perfect world, where all servers know their shit, this would be true. Unfortunately, more often than should be, servers barely know anything on the menu, using the cop out of 'oh I just work here, I don't eat here." Not an excuse. When a customer asks how a dish tastes or whats in it, you best be able to provide an informed response. Know the ingredients, the cooking preparation, and if you've never had it, go with what other people have said. Make something up if you have to, just don't make the customer feel like they're being entirely abandoned. Being new is not an excuse either, since if you're working a shift than you should be prepared to answer some menu-related questions.
Asking For A Tip Is A Death Sentence
Leaving a tip is a societal standard, and a server should expect one from most customers. Not, however, if you remind us to. Phrases like "Tip isn't included," "The tip button is right there," or the audacious "Can you leave a tip please," are like a slap in the face to customers. What, do you think we're not good for it? That we're just gonna dip without leaving a thing? Most North American customers know the tipping-routine, so don't make us feel like cheap assholes, unless, that is, you don't want a tip at all.
Get The Order Right...The First Time
When you see a server without a notepad or something to write an order on, you're either impressed with their sharp memory, or just waiting for them to return to tables with a 'sorry, what was your order again?' Just because it looks cooler to simply remember orders, the likelihood of fucking up is way higher, especially on complex substitutions or large tables. Get it right the first time and write the order down if you need to. The five seconds of effort will pay off in a better tip.
Never Be Biased
Certain demographics are more likely to tip better, and servers know this. A trio of businessmen in suits enjoying a few drinks are probably going to leave you a larger sum than the group of four students in your section. Its probably true, but that doesn't mean the two tables don't deserve the same quality of service. Students know the struggle of biased-servers, as oftentimes students will be completely ignored over other tables because of the stigma that 'students don't tip.' There may be a chicken and the egg situation going on here; students may not tip because the level of service they're getting is terrible when compared to nearby tables. Keep everything in equality and serve indiscriminately. You never know who will be feeling more generous.
Supply Those Condiments
Nothing is worse than when your sitting at table with a fresh plate of fries, you look around, and find yourself without any ketchup. You glance around for your server, who is nowhere in sight, you look to other tables in hopes of finding a stray bottle, with no success. You sit there, fries getting cold, and wait in hopes that your server will grace you with their presence, hopefully with ketchup in tow. Am I being dramatic? Hell no. Condiments are crucial to certain dishes. Would you have a BLT without mayo? Mack on white rice without any soya sauce? Eat ANYTHING without a bottle of sriracha on the table? I thought so. Servers can't anticipate your condiment needs, so give them a heads up before your food comes out. If they haven't readily supplied your sauces by then, well, things won't look so hot on the tip front.
Remember Your Regulars
Ok, so this isn't crucial to earning a good tip, but it will definitely help in getting a better tip. Servers have a hard time discerning between customers, since they serve so many daily, but they should keep note of who is recurring and who isn't. Nothing is more saddening to a restaurant regular than realizing they haven't been remembered, despite weeks, months, or years of dutiful attendance. Make the regular crowd feel special, even if you have to fake the fact that you have no idea what their name is.
Cheque Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
At the end of every meal, getting the cheques should be an easy affair, yet some servers just fuck it up and ruin what was otherwise some solid service. First, don't make a stink about a customer paying BEFORE their food gets there, only because your shift is ending. You took the table, so tough it out, and its kind of presumptuous for you to ask for the money+tip before its been earned. Also, if you don't take visa, or interact, or are cash-only, make sure you tell your table as soon as they sit down. It will make everything waaay less problematic at the end. When the table is ready to pay, be swift about it. The table obviously wants to head out, so don't prolong the whole thing. Quicker exits mean more customers and more tips, so its a win-win. And never bitch about splitting bills. Anyone who has worked a POS system knows its not hard to do.
These are what really grinds our gears when being served, but what about you Montreal? Are we on point with our server pointers? Is there a crucial server-element we should have included? Voice your server woes in the comments below.