Skilled servers in the hospitality industry are hard to come by. A skilled server can be the difference between a business succeeding or failing. This is as a skilled server is able to work as part of a team, provide efficient service and makes a customer feel valued. This also includes contributing to good standards and creating an atmosphere for not only customers but also other staff members. A licensed venue relies on skilled staff to ensure the functionality of the business.
Skilled staff presence becomes not only beneficial for morale but also make customers aware that bad behaviour will not be tolerated to ensure that the atmosphere in the venue is sustained. Majority of servers are unable to make it clear to customers that their behaviour will not be tolerated and they therefore need to observe and learn from skilled servers – making their presence vital in a venue. However, what are the keys to being a skilled server and being able to deal with badly behaved customers?
Body Language: Body language is an important part and can assist in dealing with customers that are creating disorder within the venue. You need to come across as assertive, using your body language will ensure that you are able to easily deal with the customer.
Distance: Everyone has a certain amount of ‘personal space’ that they prefer; coming within their personal space can escalate a situation and make the customer aggressive in certain situations. This is as if a stranger stands too close it makes you uncomfortable, and in conflict situations this can come across as a threat. Having a table or an object between yourself and the customer can create a barrier and also a distance; it can also make you feel more conformable having a barrier. You must also keep in mind of different cultures and backgrounds as different people have different ‘personal space’ preferences.
How to get it right: It’s not easy getting it right, it takes practice. You must be assertive but not aggressive or passive. Think carefully about movement, tone of voice and your distance. Don’t give up and let the person get away with bad behaviour.
It is imperative to a licensed venue that servers enforce their legal responsibilities, as customers need to realise that they cannot get away with bad behaviour. Servers with not a lot of experience should be placed with experienced and skilled servers so they can learn from them, and make the right decisions in regard to patrons and learn how to deal with difficult customers and/or situations. Practice makes perfect and watching and learning from experienced employees is vital to the learning process.