When I was asked by Planet Planit to write my top 10 tips of working as a banqueting or events waiter for an agency I thought it would be simple. The more I wrote the more I realised there were a great many things that I couldn’t put on a list of only 10. There are bound to be points I’ve missed off, but below are the ones I consider to be most important.
It doesn’t matter what else is on this list – the most important thing that matters in this job (as in any other) is attitude. If you have a bad attitude nothing else will work – and probably neither will you for long. If you have a bad attitude in ANY job you will fail. Have a good and positive attitude and any job can become great. So there it is. Point 1. Have a good attitude. No, have a great one.
2. Get to Know your Recruiter
Your Recruiter / Resourcer / Consultant is there to put you into work. He or she will find you work if she/he is confident in your abilities. Often Recruiters have many people on their books but it is only the ones that stand out that will get the lion’s share of work. Call them, text them, be nice to them, let them know when you can and cannot work. Let them know where you liked to work and where you didn’t. Communication is key here. Keep quiet – and well, they might just give the job to someone else which might mean that you can’t afford that holiday trip to Ibiza with your pals after all.
3. Be Punctual
Show up to work early. Punctuality is important for any job, especially in hospitality. Events and banqueting can be particularly fast-paced and NO ONE wants to delay the start of someone’s wedding just because you couldn’t be bothered to get up 10 minutes earlier. That’s a whole lot of people you’re upsetting – the manager, the married couple, the married couple’s family, your Recruiter.. Hmm, maybe you should catch the earlier bus next time…
4. Look the Part
This is almost as important as attitude. In fact if you dress well you’ll probably even feel the part. So make sure your uniform is correct and clean. (Hint: It’s called a uniform for a reason. It should look like everyone elses’). Unless you are working in a particularly fashionable or funky environment, this is not a fashion parade. If trousers are to be plain black straight leg, don’t wear striped bell bottoms. If you have to wear knee length skirts don’t wear something above the knee. Make sure your clothes are cleaned and ironed. No one likes a dirty waiter! What would that say about the hygiene of the venue you’re working at? Ewww! First impressions are everything.
Oh and shoes, people, SHOES!!! No ballet pumps, sandals, plimsolls, stilettoes, or cleverly disguised running shoes – And that includes the boys! Proper shoes please. Your recruiter can provide you with those details.
5. Be Hygienic
Do yourself and others a favour. Be clean! Wash and shower before you work. No one wants to choke on your body odour when they’re supping on their soup. And if you must smoke, freshen your breath – who wants to be served by smelly-old-ash-tray-breath? And keep your nails clean.
Word of warning! Don’t overdose on the old cologne or perfume – people can be allergic to it so easy does it.
6. Know the Menu
Whether you are working at a large event or a small private restaurant, if food is being served either you will get a brief on what’s being delivered or be given a menu where you will be able to see what food is on offer. If you are getting a brief at a large venue WRITE IT DOWN so you can remember it. A brief is the time to ask questions if you’re not sure of anything. In fact the only thing you can be sure of – if you thinking a question guaranteed someone else is thinking it too! So ask it, and help someone else out. There is no such thing as a silly question.
It’s important to know what you are serving with all these allergies about. If you serve nuts to someone with a nut allergy because YOU were not doing your job properly or paying attention you could be playing with someone’s life.
Check the food before bringing it to the customer. Especially when there are special requests involved, you can save everyone a lot of headaches by making sure the order is correct before bringing it to the table.
7. Don’t say “I know”
Nothing drives clients or recruiters more crazy when they are trying to show you something and before they have finished the sentence they are interrupted with an “I know”. What is it you know exactly? The ingredients to the elixir of immortality? What the heck was Lost all about? The only thing you’ll know if you keep saying “I know”, is where the door is.
Listen to experienced employees carefully. Even if you have worked as a waitress before, you should pay attention to the details of your new job. Each venue does things slightly differently, and paying attention during training will let you do your job more smoothly. It’s also respectful.
8. Don’t Ask
I know. I know. In point six I said there is no such thing as a silly question. I lied. There are some questions that are just going to get you booted out of the function or reduce you chances of repeat work. These are essentially questions that label you as ‘lazy’ or ‘disinterested’. Please, please do not ask the moment you arrive at an event: “What time do I finish?” or “Do I have to do this?” If you are going to ask these questions ask your Recruiter not the client. The client won’t like it – or you – very much.
9. Don’t Stand around Doing Nothing
Unless you have been told to stand – there is always something to be done. Clean! There are always things that need to be cleaned, glasses needing polishing etc. Are there customers who need help? If you’re not sure, ask the manager if there is anything else you can do to help. (This is a good question to ask). This will impress the employer and he/she is very likely to use your services again.
10. Smile and Be Helpful
Sometimes things do and will go wrong. When they do customers can become upset. In this situation DON’T start shouting back and slamming doors. This is not a competition to see who can scream the loudest. If you want to do that sort of thing, do it at home or on a night out. When you speak to customers listen, give them eye contact and let them know what you are doing about the situation (for example, you’re going to get the manager to come and speak with them). Never take it personally – even when it seems personal – because you don’t know what else is going on in the customer’s life and an overreaction is probably due to external situations. All you can do is try to keep things as calm and as professional as you can.
And that’s it. There are many other things I could have mentioned – about training, checking your bookings etc but stick to the above and you should have a fun and rewarding time with your agency.
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