The 30+ most common mistakes bad waitresses make

Professional waitresses are rare. In fact, restaurant work involves meticulous attention to detail. It is not limited to the seemingly simple algorithm of “smile – take an order – bring food – put bill on the table.”

Virtually all of the staff’s mistakes lie on the same plane, relating to customer communication. It is important to remember that the waitress is the institution’s main representative in the guests’ eyes.

Bad waitress take order

Let’s consider the most popular mistakes of bad waitresses to avoid discouraging customers from revisiting the restaurant and recommending it to their friends.

Leaving a dish in the rendition window for a long time

This is probably the biggest bad waitress’s sin. No matter how well-cooked the dish is, if it is not picked up from the serving window in time, the food will reach the guest’s table cold, and the flavor will evaporate along with the temperature. That’s why premium restaurants cover food after cooking with a cloche lid – a cap rubbed to a mirror shine, which keeps food warm until it is served.

Bad waitresses ignore the table, which is not in their section.

Every time a guest gets a negative impression from the staff, the restaurant risks losing a customer, and the waiter risks losing his or her job. You shouldn’t ignore customers simply because they are seated at a table not in your section this time.

Forgetting minor requests

Bringing salt, pepper, ketchup, a small spoon for a kid, or extra napkins to the table on time makes your guests feel cared for by the staff. No one wants to wait forever for small requests to be fulfilled, much less remind a bad waitress what she forgot.

Don’t skip clients

If you’re walking with a tray of four hot meals, maybe that can excuse you. But if you’re just walking through the hall, you shouldn’t squeeze into the aisle before the guests pass, much less hit them.

Bad waitresses have a habit of bringing orders at random.

If you forgot to ask whether your drink is served with or without ice, it’s best to go back and ask again. No one will think you were forgetful. Quite the contrary: they will take your clarification as a concern and the fact that you really care.

Bad waitresses don’t write the table number on the order.

Have you seen how sometimes food is brought to the table and turns out exactly in front of the person who ordered it? Miracles don’t happen-it’s all about the system. To serve customers to the highest standard, write everything down in a notebook, making notes about which guests are served what.

Bringing the order apart.

It’s awful when guests at the table have to wait for the last person to bring their food. Guests come to the restaurant to dine together and have a relaxed conversation, not to watch their steak get cold and get nervous when a friend’s order arrives.

Don’t write down the order.

There is a definite benefit to being a waitress when you remember orders rather than write them down. Closer eye contact is established with guests. But the reality is that if your memory is not perfect, it will lead to mistakes. At such moments, a vegetarian will end up with a meat stew on the table in front of a vegetarian, and a tequila drinker will end up with a gin. You shouldn’t be surprised that customers didn’t leave a penny in the tip.

Not repeating the order.

The waitress should repeat the order at least once to ensure guests ordered everything they wanted and didn’t mix up anything in her notes

Imposing expensive menu items

The waitress may be very charming, and the highly recommended dish may be delicious, but the guest will feel forced to order. Maybe he was embarrassed to refuse, or he overestimated his financial capabilities… But the person will probably not come to the restaurant a second time.

Asking, “Are you still not done with that dish?”

Compulsively asking if you can pick up the guest’s plate is highly inappropriate. Nothing is more annoying than a waitress circling over like a kite, looking out for a plate that’s been vacated. Dirty dishes shouldn’t be picked up the second a guest puts down their fork and swallows their last bite. Don’t strain your visitors with your excessive eagerness. You don’t want to rush them.

Touching the top third of the glass with your hand

No one likes getting a glass with water, ice, lemon, and someone else’s fingerprints on it. Hold it properly without touching the top with your fingers.

Wait more than a minute before greeting guests.

When you see new guests, you should say hello right away to let them know that you care about them and that you really care about their time in the restaurant.

The bad waitress is poorly acquainted with the menu.

You can’t recommend something with complete confidence if you haven’t tried it yourself. If your bosses are sparing money for staff tasting menus, order those dishes on your own time at your own expense. It will pay off in tips for sincerely answering the question of what you would personally recommend from the menu. Nothing is as annoying as a “we’re all good” response.

Failure to warn about the cooking time

Even experienced servers forget that. Imagine such a situation. Your regular customer usually orders salads and knows they are cooked for 10 minutes. But today, he ordered cheesecakes, and their cooking time is 20 minutes, as the recipe says they should be fried first and then baked. There’s nothing supernatural about that: it takes 20 minutes to make a dish delicious and fresh, but your guest doesn’t know that. And from the 11th minute, he will be nervous and wondering when they will bring his cheesecakes.

Just one phrase from the waiter after ordering – a warning about the cooking time – can prevent this mistake. And your guest will either order another dish if they are hungry or in a hurry or, knowing the waiting time, will quietly go about their business, check the news feed on their smartphone, etc. What’s just as annoying in a restaurant is our next point: the imposition of choice.

Don’t mention details when ordering.

What do bad waitresses most often forget, and what can make a big difference in the positive service in that establishment (restaurant, pub, café, or other food service establishment)? Examples:

  • Reminding them that the dish contains many common allergens (such as honey or nuts) or garlic and onions, which guests often refuse to eat;
  • Informing them about the different types of spices that will be chosen by the customer or warning them about the high spiciness of the dish;
  • specifying the level of roast of the steak;
  • Specifying when to serve certain beverages, particularly coffee.


The mistake many bad waitresses make. More often than not, they recommend and sell dishes and drinks that they like themselves. But there is a very thin line between imposition and recommendation.

When you offer a guest only one option and tell them to take that particular dish, it’s an imposition. If you ask what exactly the guest would like and offer a few options, you will know their preferences. You should give him at least two versions of the dishes with a description of the taste and the ingredients differences. As a rule, the guest will understand which of these he wants more. This is the recommendation.

What should you do? Ask follow-up questions, find out what the guest wants and offer them two or three dishes to choose from. Let your waiters’ favorite dishes remain their favorites. If the guest wants to know their opinion, that’s another matter

Going out to the WC in your work apron

Sanitation is a prerequisite for any self-respecting restaurant. Taking off your apron before going to the restroom and washing your hands thoroughly afterwards is so obvious that it’s embarrassing to even talk about. Yet surveys show that more than 80% of staff forget to wash their hands.

Opening the bottle in the kitchen, not in front of the guest

Open bottle in a front of client

You should always do a bottle of wine, champagne, beer, water, and lemonade in front of customers. And it’s not even about the special charm of this action, but the basic rules of service.

Be invisible

Stand so that it is easy to make eye contact with you. This will make the customer feel you are always there for them if they need your help.

Serve each table separately, not the whole section at once

If one table asks for mustard and another for ketchup, don’t run straight to the kitchen, but ask if table #3 needs another glass of beer. On your way back, you’ll have everything you need for your visitors. And the guests at table #3 won’t have to wait forever while you’re circling around.

Complain about clients who show up just before closing time

Of course, it makes no one happy when guests come 15 minutes before closing time and order one bottle of wine for the entire company, but sweeping the floor and measuring customers’ piercing glances is not the solution to the problem.

If a customer complains, they can easily get you fired. Just ensure customers get all their orders and go about your business, occasionally checking to see if they need anything else. But for God’s sake, don’t start pulling up chairs on tables or turning off the music until the guests leave.

Inability to communicate with different types of customers

A waiter who is only good at serving one type of customer and bad at serving others cannot be called a professional. You need to know how to talk to office workers as well as moms with children. And do not be demonstratively upset when seemingly not very wealthy guests sit at a table in your section.

Imposing expensive food and drinks on the menu

You might have earned a few extra bills as a tip, but the customer feels that he was imposed on something he didn’t intend to order at all. Maybe he just wasn’t comfortable refusing you, but that discomfort is why he won’t return to your restaurant again.

Evaluating a customer by the appearance

As a rule, a customer’s appearance is not always a guarantee of affluence, and it certainly doesn’t tell you how much they would like to spend at the restaurant. “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” both professionally and personally. Appearances are deceptive, and we can make someone feel uncomfortable about our clumsy behavior.

Customer neglect

As a person who has direct contact with customers, on the one hand, he is a showcase of the restaurant, and on the other hand, during conversations with guests, he can get information about their evaluation of the place and suggestions that can improve the quality of services offered.

The waiter must not only serve the customer but also do everything to make him feel as comfortable as possible in the restaurant. An important element is also a proper farewell to customers and encouraging them to revisit the place. Often, bad waitresses forget details that can positively impact the image and customer care at a low cost. For example:

  • Offering a child drawing paper with colored pencils;
  • Offering tables near the outlets for customers who bring their laptops;
  • Offering to sit at a newly opened large table for friendly company

Silently remove dishes from the table.

There are two extremes: either dirty dishes are left on the table too long, or they are taken away too quickly. In some restaurants, it is customary to fly up to the guest as soon as they put the cutlery on the plate to carry them away silently. No questions or clarifications! And how many of us like to take the rest of the sauce off the plate with a slice of bread?

The waiter should wait for a convenient moment, when the guest really finishes his meal, and specify: “Can I take away the dishes?”, “Can I take away from the table unnecessary?”. With a caring and friendly tone, of course. The point is that for many customers, no one must make decisions for them. But in any case, polite clarifications signify lively communication between the institution’s staff and visitors.

Relaxing before closing time

Bad waitress relaxing in working time

99% of problems happen in the last hour of service. The kitchen runs out of food; employees just want to go home as soon as possible. That’s why it’s important to be as focused as possible in those final hours and maybe take a little break to recharge while the last couple of customers finishes their wine bottles.

False hope

Imagine a situation: a guest waits for a long time for his order, calls up the waitress, and asks: “When will the food arrive?” The bad waitress mechanically answers: “In a minute!”. Good, of course, if he comes from the kitchen and knows that the order will be ready in a minute. But more often, this answer is given automatically, and the guest will still be waiting for a while.

This happens, you could say, subconsciously. The waiter doesn’t want to indicate a long waiting time if the guest has already spent so much time. He says what the visitor wants to hear. And in the end, by not meeting expectations, he spoils the impression even more.

The best thing to do in such a case is to go to the kitchen, find out the real waiting time and honestly tell the guest.

Keep the change

Bad waitress keep change

One last thing. The client has eaten and paid – are we done with him? Theoretically, the waiter’s task is done, and he can switch to work with new guests. But how do we give the change to the client? It is impossible to forget about it. Sometimes bad waitresses completely forget about it, and as a result, the bill is brought in about 20 minutes, and the customers have already managed to dress and go outside for some fresh air.

If the guests had wanted to keep the change as a tip, they would have clearly indicated this point: “No change required” or “Thank you, you can keep the change. But after such a long wait for the bill, you certainly shouldn’t count on a tip.

No one will argue that a waiter’s job is challenging. But the restaurant administration must clarify to its employees which actions and phrases are acceptable and which are not. It is necessary to define together the policy of the institution and set standards, abandoning outdated rules and verbal constructions.

The best service is to allow guests to focus on the food they have ordered and make them feel comfortable. Some mistakes and mistakes in waiter service are possible. After all, we’re all human. It’s sad when mistakes made are not corrected but are perpetuated. Staff needs to be trained and constantly monitored to improve the restaurant’s service and make customers more loyal and generous.

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