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Service Industry Etiquette – The Unwritten Rules CUSTOMERS Should Follow

If you’ve worked in the service industry- in a bar, nightclub, cafe or restaurant, for more than a couple of weeks before giving up and quitting, chances are you’ve come to know the experience of dining out from an entirely different perspective- the server’s.

Whether you’ve worked at a club and are at dining at a restaurant, worked at a restaurant and are ordering at a cafe, or whatever the case may be, you recognise the frustrations of indecisive patrons, filthy messes, piles of change, picky orders, and most of all, CUSTOMER ATTITUDES.

The customer is always right… haha, that’s a joke. But they are the ones who are paying, and the people who you aim to please in order to get a healthy tip when they finally get out of your life forever… or so we hope.

Of course, some guests can be great: wonderful company and are pleasantly refreshing and helpful; they are usually ones who have worked in the service industry themselves.

Whether you’ve been a server, bartender, barista, etc. or not, if you follow these few simple rules of etiquette, you can rest assured your food will be served without a giant goober of spit hidden in the mashed potatoes!

  1. Don’t take up the staff’s time being indecisive

By all means, take your time choosing, but if you’re not ready to place an order when your waiter comes by, let them know that you need a couple of minutes. If you have questions about the menu, ask away, but if you still can’t make up your mind, don’t make them stand there while you mull it over and look at your friends as if to say “I don’t know if I want a sandwich or the nachos. If I get nachos will you split them?” Excuse your waiter so he can tend to other customers while you and Sally decide if you “need” an appetiser.

2.  If you’re going to split the bill, let your server know BEFORE you order

Not everyone knows this one, but most places appreciate being told ahead of time if you want to ring in everyones’ meals on separate orders. This way they can keep things organised and print off each bill at the end. Some waiters are assholes and would prefer to ring it all in at once and let you figure it out when the bill comes…but then they get annoyed when you ask for help sorting it out. It’s better to let your server know you want separate checks ahead of time and joke that in the end it will save them a headache (and result in a nicer tip).

3.  Decide who is paying for the bill before the waiter comes

It’s a nice gesture to surprise your friends by picking up the tab when the bill comes (hell me being cheap myself really appreciates it), but if there’s going to be this “cute” little argument which takes place, and even getting the waiter involved, this is the biggest waste of time and is frustrating for them. Don’t hold up the process, and if you insist on paying your half, sort it out and have your adorable little dramatic scene once you leave the restaurant.

4. Try to make your picky order and simple as possible

We live in the 21st century and everyone has allergies. Me, I’ll admit I just try to minimise my calories and therefore will go through a whole list of substitutions and omissions to my order. Although I’m still being a problem, I try to find the least complicated way to order my picky request such as “dressing on the side, double vegetables, no bun” rather than try to order a new meal from scratch.

5. Do NOT pile things onto plates as the waiter is picking them up

It’s common courtesy to pile you cutlery and wipe up your crumbs with napkins rather than leave a giant mess for your waiter to clean, especially if you’re hanging around for some more drinks or another course. But DO NOT pile plates and cutlery into their hands if they’ve already began to clear your table. You do not know how many plates your server if capable of holding without their appendages breaking off. Let your server decide how much they can take away at once. Don’t worry, they’ll be back for the rest.

6. Shut up. Just shut up, if the restaurant is packed.

All service industry staff are polite (or at least they should be) mainly because customer service is their ultimate goal and they’re counting on your tips. No matter how “interested” they may seem in stories about your grandkids, if they have multiple tables, your conversation is taking them away from their other customers- hence, risking losing  tips. Don’t get me wrong, your waiters may really like you, but when they’re at risk of being shouted at by another patrons for not bringing out the Garlic Aioli Dip for their French Fries, they’re not going to care about  a picture of little “Madisynne” in her two piece Dora bikini.

7. If something is wrong with your order, address it to your waiter, not just whomever brings the food

When restaurants are busy, often servers will ask other floor staff to assist in running the food. If you need ketchup, silverware, or something simple, it’s fine to ask the staff member who brings your meal, but if you have a complaint, wait for your server or ask to speak with them about your meal. NEVER give an attitude to someone who had nothing to do with taking your order.

8. Be KIND to your server.

Waiting tables, taking orders, making drinks, etc. can be very challenging, especially when the place is packed, noisy, and full of obnoxious guests. If there’s a problem with your meal, address the problem politely as 99% of the time it’s an honest mistake. The only time I believe you have the right to be rude is if your waiter, bartender, etc is giving YOU an attitude. It’s their job to make customers happy and do what it takes to rectify the situation. If you feel you’re being a burden for a simple request, then I agree your server does not deserve his/her 15% +when the bill comes.

9. If you really like it, give your experience a GOOD REVIEW

Restaurants, bars, cafes, and nightclubs nowadays work for good ratings and reviews on Trip Advisor, Google, Facebook, etc. Even if you’re not a wordsmith, take a few moments to give a business a good rating. Who knows, maybe you’ll get a coupon for some free Garlic Cheese Bread on your next visit!

Love from Lala.

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