8 Things Hosts and Servers Should Never Say

 In Restaurant

Of course the quality of your food is important, but nothing turns customers off more quickly than bad service. If servers or hosts interact with customers in the wrong way, those customers probably won’t be back. So what should your employees do? Read on to find out the things servers and hosts should never say.

1. “Are you still working on that?” No one likes to feel like their meal is work. It also makes the diner feel rushed, like the restaurant can’t wait to clear them out and seat the next customer.

2. “That’s not possible.” Whether it’s a host saying s/he can’t seat a customer or a server saying s/he can’t provide substitutions, this isn’t a good idea. Your restaurant can’t fulfill every customer’s whims or get a table of 11 people a table right away, but your servers and hosts should still have a more positive attitude. Try saying, “I’ll check with my manager” or “I’ll see what I can do” before finding out if it’s really impossible.

3. “Would you like freshly ground pepper?” Most servers ask this immediately after putting plates in front of customers, but think about it: how does a customer know if their food needs seasoning if they haven’t even tried it yet?

4. “The wait won’t be long.” If the wait really will be lengthy, it’s not a good idea to lie to customers about it. It’s better to overestimate. If the host tells them that the wait will be an hour and they’re seated in half an hour, they’ll feel lucky. But if a host tells them the wait is half an hour and an hour later they’re still not seated? Well, they probably won’t be so pleased.

5. “Did you save room for dessert?” Many servers talk about dessert like it’s some sort of sinful, extravagant extra. It makes sense that customers might want to indulge when they’re enjoying a night out, but don’t make them feel guilty about it! Servers should simply ask if customers would like to see a dessert menu.

6. “Sweetie.” Servers or hosts might think they’re being friendly by using pet names, but many customers find this way too familiar. Avoid using “sweetie,” “honey,” or other too-cute terms.

7. “Just one?” If a customer is dining alone, servers and hosts should avoid drawing attention to this fact. A person who’s eating alone doesn’t need to be called out for it!

8. “Would you like change?” This question is especially out of place if a customer’s paying for a $50 meal with a $100 bill. If customers don’t want change, they’ll let their server know. When a server asks them, it just looks greedy.

Providing great service is one of the most important things your restaurant can do to attract (and keep!) customers, so make sure your hosts and servers know how to appropriately speak to diners. If your employees can stay away from the phrases on this list, they’ll avoid offending customers and hurting your business.

Showing 4 comments
  • Lenny Sims

    In a fine dining establishment it is out of place to ask if they want change when paying for a $50 meal with 100, but anywhere else I have thrown it out there a few times. It really helps if your a good server (or great) and you have a personality. Make sure you exaggerate–"You don't need change right". But if you have been dry, dull, and boring all night maybe you don't, but maybe, just maybe you do.

  • Ellen Miles

    One more that drives me nuts … when I say thank you after being served, frequently, the server replys with "No Problem". Of course it's not a problem, it's their job. It sounds so much more professional if they would just say, "You're welcome" or "It's my pleasure".

  • JoAnn Kehoe Ebdon

    I would move number 7 to number one. When I am dining alone this sets the tone for the entire dining experience and makes it very hard for my server to earn their tip.

  • Brenda Sinclair Irby

    I agree Jo, but number 6 really irks me. I am not their "sweetie" or "honey". I know it's more of a southern thing, but ticks me off immediately.

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