Service Skills

All foodservice employees, especially those who interact, or talk and work together, with customers, must possess the following qualities. Each of these qualities is important to a successful career as part of the service staff:

• A positive attitude

• A neat and clean appearance

• Good communication and teamwork skills

• Thorough job knowledge and the ability to manage time wisely

• An ability to resolve customer complaints by positive means

Positive Attitude

It is critical to have a positive attitude at all times when you deal directly with customers. You cannot allow one difficult customer to affect your attitude. For example, a server may have just dealt with a difficult customer. That same server must be able to serve other customers without being visibly upset. It is important for service staff members to be able to manage stress well.

The proper attitude for a server is a willingness to please the customer. Without this willingness, you cannot succeed, despite any other skills you may have. This is also a way to build and maintain a client base. A client base consists of the customers who come regularly to your business. These behaviors show a willingness to please customers:

• Take pride in your work, regardless of your job assignment.

• Be cheerful. Friendliness matters to everyone around you.

• Try to resolve complaints and problems in a positive way.

• Show courtesy to customers and coworkers alike. This includes helping your coworkers if they need it.

• Never argue with customers. People prefer a relaxed, pleasant setting when dining out. Arguments create tension.

• Remember that the customer is never "wrong." Your role is to find solutions that will keep customers happy.

• Do not hold conversations with coworkers in the dining area. Customers need to know that they are your only priority.

Personal Attire

The service staff's appearance is key to giving customers a good first impression of both the staff members and the foodservice operation. Most foodservice operations have their own policies regarding proper attire, or clothing. Foodservice businesses usually require a uniform for serving staff. A uniform is clothing that is worn by a particular group to help identify workers. Here are some general grooming guidelines for service staff:

• Be sure your uniform fits properly and that it is clean and pressed.

• Keep your work shoes clean and polished.

• Remove any nail polish before going to work.

• Keep jewelry to a minimum.

• Wear proper underwear.

Personal Health

The energy and skills demanded in foodservice can be best achieved when you are in good physical and mental health. Foodservice careers often involve long hours on your feet. Getting enough sleep is key. Too little sleep weakens the body's immune system and puts the body at risk for illness. A lack of sleep does not promote good physical or mental health. Getting enough sleep also will help you handle stress, making you more successful at your job.

Foodservice employees often have to lift heavy objects, such as loaded serving trays. Exercise regularly to increase your strength.

In the foodservice industry, disease can spread easily to coworkers and customers. If you have a fever, a cold, or are vomiting, do not go to work and try to wait it out. Call your supervisor and see a doctor. Return to work only when you are completely well.

Personal Hygiene

When you work directly with the public, personal hygiene is very important. Follow these guidelines for personal hygiene:

• Keep your hair pulled back and out of the way.

• Keep your hands clean. Wash them frequently, including after handling food, clearing tables, coughing, or sneezing. Washing your hands after using the restroom is required.

• Keep your fingernails trimmed and clean.

• Be sure that your teeth are clean and your breath is fresh.

• Use body deodorant daily.

• Do not wear heavy colognes or perfumes.

Communication and Teamwork Skills

Service staff members must be able to communicate well with both customers and with coworkers. They also must be able to work as part of a coordinated team. Teamwork between service staff members is shown through verbal and nonverbal communication skills.

Verbal Communication

Verbal communication involves speaking to another person. It is important to speak clearly and loudly enough to be heard when talking.

^ J FIGURE 5.1 | Clear Communication

Check, Please Servers must be able to communicate clearly when writing out orders. What does the shorthand used here tell you about this order?

Gatehouse

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