One of the most common mistakes made by restaurant service staff is to talk instead of listening—to simply want to sell instead of meeting the guest’s needs or solving their problems.

Successful wait staff see, hear and give attention to their guests.

In this article, Björn Salomonsson, sales coach, course leader and co-owner of restaurant Årehyddan, shares three incredibly simple ways to make your guest happier and want to come back!

Most people probably remember a time when they were captivated by a really good restaurant server: being shown attention to feel like you are their only guest, building a sense of trust and confidence that makes you want to take their recommendations. To create this feeling in a guest, it’s important to have an analytical outlook, to be quick-thinking and adaptable. It is important to familiarize yourself with the guest’s situation and adapt to it, while remaining genuine and without changing your personality.

Here are three tips for how your restaurant staff can create magic with your guests.

See your guests

Think about the times you’ve met a server who does not see you as a guest, as an individual, and how that affected your dining experience.

Reflect on how you would want to be treated and the situations where you have felt seen by the serving staff. What qualities did you appreciate about them? How can you help your serving staff to recreate this experience in their work?


Think about what it’s like to be interrupted by someone who would rather talk about themselves and their own interests. Think about how important it is for you in your own situation to be heard, to have someone that listens to you and lets you express your thoughts and needs. Now translate this situation to your restaurant guests. The more your guest talks, the more information you get that can help you better serve—and sell—to them.

Give attention

Only one in ten salespeople makes four or more contacts with a customer before making a sale—but up to 90% of all sales take place after that fourth hit. How does that relate to your servers? Have a strategy of frequently giving your guests attention and visiting their table. It creates a sense of security in their relationship with the guests that will ultimately pay off in the long run.

To get your staff better at this, it’s important to have a daily pep talk and have follow-ups that are simple and measurable.

And don’t forget to have fun at work, because that will spread to your guests. The more comfortable your guests are with your serving staff, the more likely they will be to spend more money with you.

Good luck!