Many of the items a server needs to perform their job efficiently are a shared resource.  If they rely on things being done by other team members, there is (at least) a 50% chance they’ll be out of luck, and luck is not a thing to count on in when it comes to the strength of your restaurant serving teams.

The importance of teamwork demands respect by your serving teams.  If an individual server doesn’t have a strong sense of commitment to others, they are not only not professional, they may be negatively affecting the productivity of the restaurant, as your chain is only as strong as the weakest link.  There are many talented restaurant servers out there, but talent is worthless without serious effort and preparation, and your best servers are no longer your best if they don’t pull their weight for the team.

The number one reason for a restaurant server not performing their best during rush periods is a lack of preparation.  Many servers show up just in time to take their first table, and are simply not prepared to perform the job at optimum performance.  A server who doesn’t show up early for their shift neglects the opportunity to ensure they have everything they need for the shift in advance of when they need it.  A disorganized section, a poorly set table or a poorly stocked service station will all be a hindrance to serving efficiently in your busiest periods, regardless of whose job it is to complete those tasks, it is ultimately the server that will sink or swim based on preparedness.

As a restaurant owner or manager, you’d be doing yourself a favour to make it mandatory for your serving teams to be in their sections 15 minutes early to ensure they and their stations are fully prepared and stocked and that they’re ready for anything.  It’s true that the previous shift in the restaurant should be leaving the stations, sections and tables clean, prepared and stocked, but that doesn’t preclude the need for the next shift to take responsibility for themselves and at the very least, double check to ensure that’s all been done.

While this may all seem obvious, much of it is often overlooked.  The fact is that if your restaurant serving teams spend more time than necessary during the shift performing tasks they could have covered before they got busy managing the guests’ experience, they’d be more relaxed while serving.  Instead of playing catch up, they could put their best efforts on the real priorities – selling and providing exceptional service to your guests.