Elevate Your Customer Experience with Us        Call/ WhatsApp: +27 82 765 9238      Email: training@hospitalitycourses.co.za

The 9 steps to success at table service | Waiter SOP


First impressions are very important. The customers overall dining experience will be greatly improved if the first person who greets them is friendly, polite and helpful. Your appearance should give the impression that you are clean, smart and organised. A sincere smile puts your customer at ease from the onset.

Step 1

Customers should be acknowledged within 30 seconds of arrival and fully greeted within one minute. Attention should be given to factors such as:

  • reservations  
  • preference for smoking or non-smoking
  • customers with small children
  • customers with special physical or dietary needs
  • customers with communication difficulties.


Step 2

Once the party has been shown to their seats, assistance should be offered in seating customers. Clean, well-presented menus should be given to guests and you should explain any items on special or any promotions.


Step 3

When the guests are ready, you should take their order, making sure to offer advice when necessary. At this stage, you will have the chance to promote food and drink items and to make suggestions regarding the menu.


Step 4

Once the order has been relayed to the kitchen, it is your job to adjust the place settings making sure that each guest has the correct cutlery and service equipment.


Step 5

When the kitchen indicates that the food is ready, there are several things that must be checked:

  • food must be well presented
  • food must be served at the correct temperature
  • food items must be exactly what the customer ordered.


Step 6

When carrying the food to the table, be sure that your hands do not come into contact with the food or the upper rim of the service dish. This would increase the chances of bacteria transferring from your hands to the food.


Step 7

When all the guests have finished their meal, you must aim to clear their table quietly and efficiently. In some establishments, this may include “crumbing down” which is the method of removing crumbs from the table either by using a folded napkin or a small brush. Soiled linen should also be removed from the table.


Step 8

At all times during service, it is important to keep the dining area clean, tidy and organised. This must be done with minimum disturbance to customers.


Step 9

Be proud of your profession and always strive to be the best!


Are you working in the food service department? Where are you based? Did you find this article helpful? We would like to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.


Kindest Regards,


Sam Nkwanyane

Hospitality Coach • Speaker • Consultant