Do's & Don't of Table Service
How to Be a Banquet Server
Banquet servers work in a team to serve guests at events like weddings and conferences. The job of banquet server is an entry level position that doesn’t require much experience or prerequisites. In addition, it is a great job for someone looking to switch careers. Ultimately, by gaining relevant experience, understanding the basic skills you’ll need, and finding a job, you’ll make yourself competitive and be able to get a job as a banquet server.
Learning the Basics
Set up the banquet hall by placing tables, chairs, and more.As a banquet server, you'll be responsible for setting up before an event. This will include placing tables, chairs, and even decorations. In some cases, you'll have 2 or more hours of set up before guests arrive.
- Most employers expect banquet servers to be able to lift at least 25 pounds (11.4 kg).
Learn how to set silverware.Place a large entrée fork to the left of the plate. Then, put a small salad fork to the left of that. Position the cutting knife to the right of the plate. Next to that will be a small spoon, followed by a large spoon on the outside. The napkin may be placed on the plate, to the left of the forks, or even behind the plate.
- Place settings may vary based on region, taste, and your employer’s standards.
- Your employer will most likely provide on-the-job training so you can perfect your place-setting skills.
Serve food and drinks to guests.Depending on the event, you might take orders, bring individual plates to guests, or serve food from a buffet. In addition, you'll take orders for and bring drinks to guests.
- If you're of age (over 18), you may be able to serve alcohol to guests.
Clear the tables assigned to you.In addition to serving guests food and beverages, you'll be responsible for clearing tables. This includes clearing plates after every course. Ultimately, whenever a guest is finished with a dish, a glass, or a piece of silverware, you'll need to remove it from the table.
Keep good personal hygiene.A banquet server should be clean and well-groomed. Shower before arriving to work. In addition, shave (if you need to), use deodorant, brush your teeth and hair, and make sure your clothes/uniform are laundered and pressed. Finally, make sure to wash your hands with warm soap and water when on the job.
Interacting With Guests and Your Team
Listen to the people you serve.Whenever the people you’re serving say something or request something, listen to them. In addition to requesting a food or drink, they may be trying to communicate information about food allergies or medical problems you should be aware of.
- Let the people you’re serving know that you heard them. For instance, say “Absolutely,” “Yes ma'am,” or “Yes sir.”
- Keep a small pad of notebook paper and write down any food allergies or special instructions you think you might forget over the course of the banquet.
Pay attention to your supervisor.Watch and listen to your supervisor. They will let you know when to serve and what to serve. If you don’t watch your supervisor, you may wind up serving your food at the wrong time. In addition, you may wind up serving the wrong plate to the wrong guest.
Watch what your fellow servers are doing.In addition to listening to your supervisor, you should pay attention to your fellow servers. This is important, as individual servers are just part of a large team of people collaborating to make a specific event run as seamlessly as possible.
- Look to see what your servers are doing at any given moment.
- Listen to what other servers say to you. If a fellow server gives you a hint or suggestion, you should probably take it. In addition, if a fellow server asks you for help, you should do so if you can.
Don’t be too talkative.When dealing with guests, don’t be overly friendly or familiar. Ultimately, a banquet server should be polite and attentive to the people they’re serving. If you get too involved with your guests, you won’t be able to attend to your duties as a server.
- Avoid interrupting guests.
- Try not to engage in small talk.
- Don’t ask guests questions unrelated to your job, and never ask guests personal questions.
Securing a Job
Find out if large hotels near you are hiring.Many large hotels that have banquet halls also have in-house catering services. As a result, they’ll regularly have openings for banquet servers. To find out if they have an opening:
- Visit the hotel’s website. Look under employment for current positions.
- Call the hotel and inquire if they’re hiring.
Look at convention center job postings.Like large hotels, convention centers often have in-house catering services. To find a job at a convention center, visit their website and look at their employment page. In addition, you can also call and inquire if they are hiring.
Contact independent caterers in your area.Run and internet search or look through the phone book for caterers near you. Call them and ask if they’re hiring banquet servers. Depending on the region you live, you’ll probably be able to find at least one caterer who is currently hiring.
Sign up with a staffing company.Contact a staffing company near you. Let them know you are interested in working as a banquet server. They'll review the positions they have available and let you know if they can place you in a job as a banquet server.
- Pay may be somewhat lower working for a staffing company. \
Look on job websites.Visit popular job websites and search for “banquet servers.” Depending on your region, you’ll likely find a variety of positions at different employers. Some websites to consider searching include:
Making Yourself Competitive
Graduate high school or earn your GED.While a formal education is not required to be a banquet server, having a high school diploma or GED may increase your chances of getting a job. In addition, holding a high school degree may help you earn more money and gain promotion later in your career.
Work as a restaurant server.Having experience as a server in a restaurant may increase your chance of getting a job as a banquet server. This is because potential employers will know you have many of the basic skills required to succeed as a banquet server. Ultimately, by working as a restaurant sever, you’ll be able to hone your attention to detail, get used to working in a fast-paced environment, and have experience serving food to a variety of customers.
Have customer service experience.Having prior experience in customer service positions, like those in retail or telemarketing, will help you hone the interpersonal skills you’ll need as a banquet server. Ultimately, the job of banquet server is o ne that focuses on satisfying customers.
Get CPR certified.Like a high school diploma or prior work experience, CPR is not required to be a banquet server. However, some employers may favor applicants who are CPR certified. As a result, if you want to increase your chances of landing a banquet server job, and it won’t take you too much time, get CPR certified.
Video: Banquet Server Basic Training
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