A good server is a jack of all trades. They’re able to quickly bounce between tables, memorizing orders while reading social cues. Although running drinks and serving food are relatively easy skills to develop, understanding the social dynamic of clientele is a much more difficult task. Servers are expected to be attentive to guests yet not overbearing; striking this delicate balance can be tough. Every server should keep a few conversation starters in their back pocket to help gauge the temperature of their customers and break the ice. Here are a few examples.
Prepare an introduction
Immediately upon meeting your guests, you should introduce yourself by name. Off the bat, this builds rapport with them, establishing a personal connection. Welcome them to the establishment and let them know that you’ll be assisting them throughout their experience with whatever they should need. This is a great opportunity to get a feel for the table – do they seem engaged or distracted? Also, by facilitating a relationship right from the start, your guests will feel more at ease, increasing the likelihood that they’ll enjoy their time with you.
“How’s your day/evening so far?”
This is a great icebreaker because it allows guests to indicate whether they’re interested in having a conversation or not. They may coldly brush you off and place their order, clearly displaying their disinterest in further interaction. On the other hand, they may launch into a story about the crazy traffic they had to navigate through on their drive in. This question provides an easy way to kick-off a conversation, as well as fodder for follow-up questions. For example, if a guest says they’re excited to kick back and relax after a long work week, you can respond by asking what they do for a living, if they work locally, or if it’s their first time there.
“What other exciting plans do you have this evening?”
As the night begins to wind down, ask your guests where they’re headed to next. Maybe they’re going to a show you’ve never heard of or a restaurant that you’re a regular at. Regardless of their answer, it’s another way to connect with them on a personal level. Also, if they’re not familiar with the area, it’s a good opportunity for you to provide suggestions based on the atmosphere that they’re seeking. Overall, this question is a simple way to wrap up conversation for the evening and end their experience on a good note.
Preparing Your Server Conversation Starters
Regardless of the conversation, it’s critical to stay away from controversial topics to avoid guests getting heated. Also, make sure that the focus of the discussion is still on the guest. If they seem disinterested or are becoming terse, turn the exchange back to them or change the topic of conversation.
There’s a common theme here: servers should pose more questions than answers. As guests share their stories and opinions, they feel more comfortable and connected with their environment. Also, by asking subtle questions, you’re able to customize your service for their specific wants and needs. By expressing genuine interest in patrons, servers can provide every guest with a personalized experience. Facilitating light-hearted, positive conversation is a surefire way to break the ice and provide a memorable evening for all.
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*The Party Staff does not condone excessive alcohol consumption. Our employees participate in alcohol awareness education and follow strict protocol to ensure the safety of all guests. For more information, please reference our alcohol awareness handbook.