chuttersnap OB7ol699Iww unsplash

The 10 Most Important Server Responsibilities

Kit Jenkin
4 Apr 2024

Most people might assume that being a server in a restaurant is easy, but they’d be wrong. As a server, you’re the face of the restaurant. So much of a customer’s experience of an establishment relies on you. 

And for that reason, a server has many responsibilities. From knowing your menu to maintaining health and safety standards, here are 10 of the most important server responsibilities.

1. Providing excellent customer service

First and foremost, it’s your job to make sure your customers get the best possible service. But what does this mean?

In a nutshell, this means being attentive to your customer’s needs and doing your best to meet them. 

This could mean offering a booster seat for a family with a child or informing customers of an extra spicy dish on the menu. It could mean greeting your customers with a warm welcome when they enter the premises. It could mean suggesting a dish you think would suit their tastes. Or it could mean making small talk to help people feel at ease. 

As long as you do your best to meet your customer’s needs, you’re delivering great customer service.

2. Cleaning and preparing the dining area

As a server, it’s usually up to you to ensure that your dining area is as neat and clean as possible for your customers. 

Cleaning your dining area is usually done right after service and involves vacuuming, sweeping, shampooing, and washing surfaces. You will need to wipe down bars, tables, floors, and fixtures. You may also be required to rearrange the dining area’s tables according to the floor plan.

You’ll also be responsible for preparing table settings, including utensils, tablecloths, wine glasses, centrepieces, candles, and more. It’s vital to ensure that your customers have a clean, welcoming, and well-set place to dine, no matter if you work in a fast-food restaurant or a fine dining establishment. 

3. Knowing your menu

As a server, you’re the connection between the customer and the kitchen. Many kitchens, because of supply issues or seasonality, will often change their menus on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. It’s up to you to stay informed about the goings-on in the kitchen so that you can let your customers know what their options are.

4. Knowing your food

Servers are salespeople, and food is their main product. They need to know what’s in every dish, and how those dishes are likely to be received by customers. This means knowing which dishes are spicy, which ones are savoury, and which ones are sweet. It’s the server’s job to ensure that customers get dishes that match their tastes.

It’s also vital to know the allergens in the foods you serve. Knowing the presence of allergens like nuts, shellfish, wheatgerm, milk, eggs, soy, and gluten will help you guide your customers away from problematic dishes and towards safer options. 

5. Taking orders

Taking orders sounds simple enough, right? You make a recommendation or two, the customer informs you of their choice, and you tell the kitchen to whip it up.

Well, not so fast.

Most servers don’t just serve one table - they serve several, with many tables flipping to new parties several times during a service. It’s very easy for orders to get misplaced, for one table to get the order of another, and for orders to get entirely lost in the constant shuffle. 

To make sure your tables get exactly what they order, you need to ensure that the kitchen is working on the right tickets at the right times. Make sure your restaurant has a top-notch point of sale system that will allow you to input orders and take payments efficiently.

6. Upselling when appropriate

A restaurant can do a lot to promote its menu. Marketing, interior decor, and even the typeface on the menu can all help to sell the customer on the dining experience. 

But there is no better advocate for a restaurant’s food than a server. A server is the face of the restaurant and is able to connect with customers and assess their needs in a way no other method can. 

Upselling is a great way to bring in extra money for the restaurant. This can mean encouraging a table to buy a bottle of wine instead of tap water or opting for an extra dessert. The kitchen may also have new dishes with big profit margins, and it will be up to you to sell these dishes to your customers. 

7. Taking payments

Taking payments from your customers can be one of the trickiest parts of being a server. Not only do you have to ensure that your point of sale system is working correctly, but you also have to handle potentially tricky situations where a customer’s payment isn’t approved. This can be awkward, and it’s vital to handle these situations with grace. 

8. Coordinating with kitchen staff

The front and back of house need to work together to make a service work. It’s important for servers to get to know the kitchen’s capabilities and processes so they can make good recommendations to customers. It’s also important for servers to have a good relationship with kitchen staff so that a service runs smoothly.

9. Serving beverages and food

Once orders have been taken and the food prepared, it’s time to take them to the table. This is a deceptively simple process. 

You have to ensure the safety of your customers and those around you. In serving, you’re carrying heavy, hot items that could injure or scald a customer if not handled correctly. You’ll also be expected to carry many different items at the same time, some of which could be very messy if spilt.

In serving beverages, the main challenge is to determine who to serve alcohol to. It’ll be your responsibility to judge the age of the customers you serve and to ask for identification when needed. Make sure you know the legal drinking where you work and familiarise yourself with the common forms of identification. 

If you serve alcohol to people under the legal drinking age, the restaurant will often be held responsible. 

10. Being aware of customer actions on the premises

While your customers are valued, there will always be an unhappy guest here and there. 

Whether it’s theft or disruption or damage to property, servers are often put in situations where conflict needs to be de-escalated and resolved.

You’ll need to alert management to any issues around theft, damage, or physical disruption that could harm the business, staff, or other customers. Report all issues to management before they escalate. You may also need to call security agents or the police in certain situations. 

Get your restaurant running smoothly

As a server, you’ll be working every day with point of sale systems to take orders and process payments. But now you can make those processes much smoother with dedicated restaurant point of sale systems from Epos Now.

  • Limit contact and improve efficiency with tableside ordering and contactless payments
  • Track time at table and manage floor plans to boost table turnover
  • Streamline back of house operations with our unique Kitchen Display System
  • Group by course and order type to speed up preparation and reduce wait times

Contact Epos Now today to set up your dedicated point of sale system.