The most important thing when serving during a rush encompasses something that is taken for granted, even though it’s talked about countless times every day, every week, every management meeting and in every server employee evaluation.  When serving during a rush, being truly prepared is not only essential, it’s even more important than the talent of any individual server.

Many items a server needs in order to perform their job efficiently are a shared resource.  And if they rely on things being done, supplied or prepared by other team members, there is at least a 50% chance they’ll be disappointed and out of luck, and luck is not something you want to count on in when it comes to the strength of your restaurant serving during a rush.  And when this happens, a server can’t legitimately point the finger at any other fellow server – they really can only point the finger at themselves.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” 

– Michael Jordan

Don’t underestimate the power of effective teamwork.  It demands the respect of your serving teams and your management.  If an individual server doesn’t have a strong sense of commitment to others, they may be negatively affecting the productivity of the restaurants. As the saying goes, your chain is only as strong as the weakest link.  There are lots of 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.

Managers coaching servers to take responsibility is the key

The #1 tip for serving during a rush and for keeping restaurant servers performing their best is preparation.  So 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 will miss the opportunity to ensure they have everything they need for the shift in advance of when they need it.

So, who is responsible to ensure that:

  • sections and tables are clean, properly organized, ready for service?
  • service stations are clean & stocked at shift start?
  • service station stock is replenished throughout the shift?

Remember that the busier you are, the more important continued replenishment of service stations and service items becomes.  No matter how talented the server, they can’t do the job to properly look after guests if they don’t have the items they need to do so.

Even if, in your restaurant, it may not the server’s job to complete those tasks, it is ultimately the server that will sink or swim based on how prepared or not they are.  This may seem like a small detail, but it’s these items that will pull down a server in the middle of a rush when they find they don’t have what they need when they need it.

As a restaurant director, 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.

Some of you may already have the 15 minute rule, but are you fully aware of what they’re doing with that time?  Are your servers aware of what they should be doing during those 15 minutes and why?  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 change the fact that the next shift has to take responsibility for themselves and at the very least, double check to ensure that’s all been done, and ultimately, that they have everything they need to work efficiently.

Not necessarily obvious…

While this may all seem obvious to you, it may not be to your management teams or all of your servers.  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 could stand to become much more efficient during peak periods.  Instead of playing catch up, they could put their best efforts on the real prioritiesselling and providing exceptional service to your guests.