How to Get Better Service at Restaurants


Not getting quality service from your favorite establishments? Still troubling over the shrimp ravioli that was supposed to arrive half an hour ago? As a paying customer, you expect your food to be tasty and to be delivered on time. Some restaurants, however, are notorious for inconsistent service. The orders are delivered late while in some cases, the food doesn’t taste fresh.

Many people simply blow their tops off after receiving horrible service. You can’t really blame them sometimes if they berate the service crew, given what they experienced, but is getting angry really the best course of action? It certainly feels good to voice out your frustrations at the supposed culprits, but you don’t have any idea what they can do to your food inside the kitchen. Instead of letting the service crew experience your own version of the bad day, you can devise a plan to effect better service on these people.


Plan #1: Operation Smile

Waiters and waitresses, being scolded from time to time, are used to hearing customer complaints. You, on your part, can do the opposite. Smile at the crew the moment you arrive at the place. When he or she approaches you to take your order, smile, give a nice opening greeting and some small talk. The waiting staff will be surprised with your courtesy, which obligates him or her to act accordingly. This plan is usually effective for classy places, but in fastfood joints, you may want to consider something more radical.

Plan #2: The Hungry and the Restless

The only person worse than an angry man is an angry hungry man. Service crews know that for a fact, which places you in a pretty advantageous position. The moment you enter a restaurant, act as if you just had a long day at work. Do a couple of fake sighs and tell the attendants to speed . Experienced wait staff will immediately recognize the signs you are displaying, since they are similar to those of irate customers’. You will then receive a silent special treatment from the crew, making you a priority over nice and friendly customers.

Plan #3: The Natural Flirt

Before you enter the restaurant, you must wear the good old player mentality. Single out the best looking wait staff and sit at the table farthest from him or her. When a waiter/waitress approaches you, request to be served by your chosen wait staff. Your move will pleasantly startle the “good looking” waiter/waitress. When he/she approaches you, smile at her/him and inquire about a dish in the menu. Show your sweetest smile and compliment his/her knowledge on the subject. If she/he finds you attractive, or is at least touched by your effort, prepare to get served, as if you’re a member of a royal family. (More tips on how to flirt)


Plan #4: Name Drop It Like It’s Hot

Being able to rub elbows with the rich and famous instantly elevates your social status, even in restaurants. Once you are seated, you and your companion will talk about your supposed exploits with the society’s elite. Tell the wait staff that the restaurant owner is one of your good buddies. Follow it up with the classic line - “Mr/Mrs <insert the owner’s name> has told me so much about this place. I’m curious on what you guys have in store.” Just like magic, the entire crew will suddenly be extra-nice to you. The service will be unusually fast and expect the food to taste as good as how they are presented in the menu. Just pray that the restaurant’s owner isn’t there when you try to pull off this stunt.


Plan #5: Masquerade as a Food Critic

If there is a person that can make the restaurant staff shake in their boots, it has got to be the food critic. You might as well use this info to your advantage and pretend to be one yourself. Enter the restaurant with a serious yet approachable demeanor. Bring out a notebook and pretend to take notes about the place. When a wait staff approaches you, tell him/her that you are a new food critic and the restaurant is your first assignment. What happens next is the stuff memorable dinners are made of. (Learn how to become a food critic)

Plan #6: The Prepaid Tip

Through the promise of a cash incentive, you can actually effect better service. Tell your waiter/waitress that you will give him/her extra cash if you are impressed with the service. From that point on, the wait staff will hustle and bustle to deliver your orders ahead of time. You might even find pleasantly interesting twists on the dishes if you’re lucky. After eating, give him/her the promised amount, as long as he/she deserves it.

You Get What You Give

Every customer has the right to good service, since you are practically paying for it, including the cooks’ and service crew’s salaries. It just so happens that some restaurant personnel forget their roles and the true significance of customers. The plans mentioned in this article act as reminders, or in some cases, spark plugs to influence better service. In other words, you are simply getting what you paid for.

9 Comments so far

  1. Tristan Phillips on December 12th, 2008

    Half of these “tips” will get you written up at as being a sucky customer, and rightfully so. Flirting? Name Dropping? Lying? Being passive aggressive? You’re there to eat food, not share your life’s drama with the staff. If I’m eating with someone that did any of those to the wait staff I’d get up and leave them then and there.

    Try this: be pleasant, polite, tip appropriately, and always keep in mind you’re dealing with a human being and not a robot. Sometimes you can’t get good service by doing those things, but you’d be amazed how well it works most of the time.

  2. Bill Reichart on December 12th, 2008

    Instead of acting like a restaurant critic…behave like a bad mystery shopper..look at your watch, ask for the managers name…and take notes while you are eating.

    That will get you good service.

  3. Sebastian on December 17th, 2008

    #2: Acting like that from the start will only automatically cause the staff to not want to deal with you because chances are that you’re a pain in the ass - subsequently, they will probably keep their distance from you at best and ignore you almost completely at worst.

    #3: Attractive waitresses get hit on constantly, it’s why they get hired and they know it. Being the flirt will most likely have no effect on your service quality, good or bad - you’ll just get treated with the same smile and fake flirtation that every other flirty customer gets treated with.

    #4: Dropping the owner’s name is something that people do constantly thinking it will get them better treatment, but in fact it makes no difference - a good owner or host will make every customer s/he speaks to feel like they’re friends. In turn, every one of those customers drop the owner’s name and it just annoys the waitstaff.

    Conversely, I own a restaurant at which I sometimes wait tables and it’s funny when an angry customer claims that they’re gonna get me fired because they know the owner.

    #5: Food critics don’t tell people they’re food critics - it defeats the purpose of writing a review if you get a different standard of service than the average customer. Owners know this, waiters know this…hell, busboys know this.

    #6: The kind of person that would do this is the type of person (in the waitstaff’s eyes) that will give them a crappy tip because they’ll have unreasonable expectations. To top it off, it’s just cheesy.

    If you really want good service at a restaurant you just have to be a good, interesting person. It’s like anything else in life - treat people with respect, tip well and take an honest interest in who they are as people and you’ll get the royal treatment. These tips will just get you on the annoying customers list.

  4. Joe on December 18th, 2008


    The article implies “you deserve to get good service…” an gives some (admittedly bad) ideas to achieve that. Most of the feedback says “suck it up, you don’t deserve SQUAT.”

    So, what is wrong with expecting good service? If you go into a restaurant that has bad waitstaff, are you supposed to HOPE that maybe next time it MIGHT be better? Are you supposed to “just understand that your server might have had a bad day, after all, THEY are human” (although YOU aren’t supposed to have any expectations)? Are you supposed to just pay your money and try someplace else next time?

    If you’re getting crappy service, and you mention it to the server, do you stand a chance of getting the food that was “Accidentally” dropped on the floor or getting that free “special sauce”? If you get crappy service, you might be doing the management a favor if you told them.

    But no, you should just suck it up.

    CustomersSuck my arse. Why do customers suck, because they figure that they are paying for goods and service and should GET good goods and service? Selfish bastids, they must be, right?

  5. Twain on December 24th, 2008

    These are horrible. It seems that these tips are more a guide on “how to be a total ass in a public place.” Who thinks it’s a good idea to manipulate another human being(s) for slightly quicker service? Have we gotten this low as a society that we disregard service workers in lieu of an ounce of selfish personal comfort/convenience? I’ve never been a waiter, but I can imagine that anyone has has groaned while reading this. Shameful.

  6. peter on December 29th, 2008

    i just retired after 35 yrs. of owning & running restaurants, from the inside out- just, remember-be yoursel- you’re dealing w/a fellow human being- they are not your slave & personal food asst. ENJOY- if thr rest. is not up to par,consider it as part of life- don’t come with the attitude, of i’m paying for this meal, i want service,service,service-if you are too lazy to cook, too tired, on a business trip or out w/friends & family-REMEMBER- you liked to be treated the way you would treat someone !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Kristen on January 12th, 2009

    I can write a better (and shorter!) article on how to get good service:

    Don’t promise an extra tip if I impress you with my service. It insults my intelligence because, number one, I’m working for $2.13 an hour. My income depends on giving good service to EVERYONE in hopes of a good tip. You aren’t going to get better service by insinuating that I’ll take special care of you for an extra three bucks. If you plan on tipping better if you’re impressed with the service, keep it to yourself and I’ll be much more pleased later.

    The one thing the above article got right: SMILE! If you are nice to me and acknowledge that I, too, am a human being, I will bend over backwards to make you happy. I may have had a horrible day…if you smile, are pleasant, and maybe even ask something about me (”So where do you go to school? Do you like it there?”) it will not only put me in a better mood and make me more motivated to work hard, it will probably keep me from going home and downing a bottle of vodka because my day sucked. Yes, a small gesture of kindness can go a long way.

    If something is wrong with your meal, speak up! Don’t be rude, just politely inform me of what is wrong. Chances are it was a kitchen screw-up unrelated to me or my service. Don’t worry, no one is going to spit in your food and I would like nothing more than to make you happy. When you leave happy, you tip me, and I’m happy.

    Let me know what you thought of my service. If you were really impressed, please ask to speak to my manager and let him know, too! Managers who hear their servers are making customers happy usually schedule those servers during the money shifts. This makes the server happy and next time you come in, they’ll remember your praise and make sure they live up to the service they gave you last time you visited.

    That’s it! Smile, treat me like a person (not a slave or servant), and be honest and we’ll get along great!

  8. SenecaAlleghenyCasino on March 11th, 2009

    Thanks Kristen you have nailed it better than any other “tip” here

  9. jessica on March 16th, 2009

    The person who wrote this article has NEVER worked in a restaurant in their life..

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