Top Ideas for managing a Restaurant’s Wait Staff

Waitress carrying dirty plates in restaurant, rear view

The restaurant industry is exciting, fast-paced and centered upon customer satisfaction. Appropriately managing the wait staff is crucial to providing a satisfying and enjoyable experience for customers. A fair and effective management approach also makes a workplace more enjoyable, creating an atmosphere of pleasantry that is fun to work in. It’s important to make the workplace team oriented, while never losing sight of how important professionalism and attention to detail is in the service industry. Here’s a few smart tips to get the most out of your wait staff.
Be the Change You Want to See

As a manager, you’re not only in charge of supervision and directing the smooth operation of the house, you’re also setting an example for your staff to follow. If you tend to be grumpy, surly and easily stressed out, your staff may unconsciously absorb and mimic your attitude. Make sure that your own personal influence is positive and uplifting so that your staff feels only good vibes in their workplace.


Even the most dedicated employees can start to feel burned out if they’re never recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty. Even though your wait staff is rewarded by customers through tips, it’s still important for management to recognize team players and hard workers. Some ideas for incentive programs could include:

  • Creating competitions to see who can maintain the highest ticket averages
  • Introducing customer comment cards for wait staff recognition
  • Record who sells the highest number of daily specials

Rewards don’t have to be monetary in nature. You could give out gift certificates, movie tickets, or even create an employee-of-the-month program.

Be a Problem Solver

As with any group of people, disagreement and conflicts are bound to arise among your wait staff. What is important is how you, as a manger, deal with and resolve issues as they arise. Consider implementing a grievance process that is standardized so that no employee feels that there are staff favorites. Also, make sure that there is a prompt timeline in which you deal with problems, because leaving a point of contention to fester will definitely cause bigger problems in the future.

Listen to Your Staff

Your wait staff works directly with customers and the kitchen on a daily basis, so they are a valuable source of information. Ask questions to find out if customers are truly satisfied, if there are any issues in the kitchen, as well as if there are any front of the house changes that could be made in order to make your restaurant more appealing. Your wait staff has their finger on the pulse of your clientele, so smart managers value their employee’s opinions.

By taking the time to create a cohesive sense of belonging and value between management and wait staff, your restaurant will become a desirable place to work and eat. As a manager, if you show respect, you will garner respect.