Top 25 Waitress Responsibilities & How To Get More Tips

There’s a lot more to being a waitress than you might think. It’s not just a matter of taking orders and serving customers.

In this article, I’ll outline the top 25 responsibilities that come with being a waitress in most restaurants.

In addition to this, I’ll describe some hidden expectations of the position and what waitresses can do to go above and beyond and maximize their tips.

The bare minimum:

Let’s first talk about the basic requirements you need to excel as a waitress. These will be required regardless of where you’re waitressing.

  • A neat physical appearance
  • Above-average communication skills
  • Politeness and manners
  • Ability to stand on one’s feet for long periods of time
  • Team-oriented
  • A good memory
  • Sociable

A sociable person will always excel more as a waitress than someone who keeps to themselves. Especially when it comes to tips.

So being a waitress may require you to get out of your shell a little more than you’re used to.

25 basic waitress responsibilities:

  1. Greet and seat diners
  2. Set up tables (e.g lay silverware & glassware)
  3. Present menus
  4. Inform diners of specials if there are any
  5. Take drink orders
  6. Bring wine selection to the table
  7. Pour wine for diners
  8. Check diners that order alcoholic beverages are of legal drinking age
  9. Prepare drinks
  10. Answer questions about menu items (e.g. describe cooking methods and ingredients)
  11. Make recommendations on request
  12. Take food orders
  13. Communicate order details to the kitchen staff
  14. Maintain a constant line of communication with kitchen staff during service
  15. Make sure diners are enjoying their meal
  16. Take action if there are any issues
  17. Ask diners if they’d like dessert
  18. Clean tables when diners have finishing eating
  19. Process customer bills
  20. Thank diners when they leave
  21. Arrange tables and dining areas
  22. Food preparation (e.g. salads, cold dishes, coffee, desserts)
  23. Answer phones to take reservations & takeaway orders
  24. Stock serving stations (e.g. with  tableware, linens)
  25. Performing cleaning duties (e.g. sweeping, mopping, taking out the trash)

Hidden expectations

As a waitress, you’re expected to interact with people all the time. So people skills are a must.

You’re expected to chat with customers, maintain relationships, remember names, and keep yourself in good spirits for the duration of service.

Then, there’s the endless jargon. The restaurant industry is filled with slang.

So, you might be confused the first time you hear someone telling you “the steak is 86’ed” (that means it’s been taken off the menu, by the way).

But don’t worry, you’re sure to pick up the restaurant slang as you keep working.

Although there are no formal qualifications to become a waitress, you shouldn’t take this as a sign that the job is easy.

In fact, waitressing is consistently ranked as one of the most stressful jobs out there.

This is because waitressing is among the most thankless jobs due to the sheer fact you’re dealing with so many people on a daily basis.

Luckily, there are smart ways to be more appreciated as a waitress – so you can earn some nice tips.

Pick your shifts wisely (Sunday hint hint)

For waitresses, one of the major concerns is figuring out your shift schedule.

And, as you’ll soon realize, there’s a big difference between a Monday night and a Sunday morning shift.

Online food and dining site Eater found, for example, that the average customer tips 16% on any given day.

However, Sunday mornings have been found to have the highest tipping crowd, with an average of 20% per tip.

Maybe you’re available to work that Sunday morning shift after all?

Personalize your waitressing

It goes without saying customers like to feel like they’re getting special attention.

However, this goes far beyond just a simple smile and a friendly “hello.”

Would you believe that something as simple as offering a mint to customers boosted tipping up to 23%?

Well, in a study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, it was found that if waitresses brought out mints and personally asked customers if they wanted them, they were far more likely to receive a larger tip.

Personalizing your waitressing is much more than just leaving mints though.

Consider (1) remembering names, (2) catering especially to kids when families come in and (3) customizing the way you greet customers.

The point is, personalization should not feel forced. Instead, it must be genuine or else customers will know you’re just playing niceties for a little extra money.


By zoning in on the basics of waitressing and using the tips above you can quickly become a capable waitress and start maximizing your tips.

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