If you’ve ever attended a wedding, business dinner, corporate party or other type of banquet, you know how critical the role of a well-trained banquet server can be. Not only must these food service professionals be quick on their feet, they must also be able to lift heavy trays with grace, identify problems on the fly, stay on top of the host’s agenda or itinerary and do all of this in a stealth manner. Whether you seek to become a member of the profession because the hours will allow you to attend school, because it’s the perfect job to balance family work hours or simply because you think it might be fun and financially rewarding, grab an apron and get your black slacks pressed. This is one party you won’t want to miss attending.
Posted in: Job Seekers– January 28, 2011
Read books on the skills a banquet server must possess in order to keep a job in this high-turnover industry. In addition to physical tasks listed in Step 1, you will be expected to set a professional table, arrange buffets and food stations properly for major events and be skilled at replenishing common items such as utensils, water and bread baskets during events. There’s an art to knowing the right time to clear a dish, pour more coffee, collect soiled linens and refresh a table. The well-schooled banquet server knows that timing is critical.
Find a banquet hall willing to train you on the job by pumping up your resume to show your customer service skills. Mention the fact that you’ve helped with school events, and read up on what is required of a skilled banquet server. You might offer to work for free during an apprenticeship. If you’ve already held a restaurant position with customer service duties, you’ll already be familiar with the practices and culture of the food service industry, so use any and all of these experiences to land your first banquet service gig.
Observe legalities by acknowledging the importance of checking identification if you work as part of a banquet crew serving liquor. Liability insurance for banquet halls is expensive; infractions for serving alcohol to underage guests could land your employer in trouble-from loss of a liquor license to heavy fines. An unspoken requirement of your job will be to act as an agent on behalf of the banquet hall, so expect to keep an eye out for compromising legal issues that could arise as a result of inebriated guests.
Gain an understanding of the etiquette involved with being a banquet server. You will be responsible for handling the facility’s property and may be held liable if you break China, glassware, serving dishes and the like. You’ll also be expected to account for lost-and-found items left behind by guests. Any form of service–from calling a cab to helping someone retrieve a coat may fall under your purview, so keep an eye on the most experienced banquet servers on staff and follow in their footsteps.
Be zealous about health matters. Follow food service rules and regulations to make certain you’re not transmitting blood-borne pathogens, and respond quickly to emergency situations and other health-sensitive issues. Many banquet facilities recycle materials in accordance with local sanitary authorities, so treat and bundle them accordingly. Frequent hand-washing is particularly critical for banquet servers for obvious reasons. Don’t be surprised if you’ve asked to take tuberculosis and/or other screening tests to make certain you don’t have communicable diseases.
Maintain your personal appearance at all times. Clean nails and a freshly washed uniform are just the tip of the iceberg employers expect staff to adhere to when they’re on duty. Pay attention to your breath and other hygiene matters out of respect for customers and co-workers. Stay home when you’re sick.
Possess a clear understanding of The Americans with Disabilities Act and all of the implications that legislation has on people with special needs in social situations. As part of your job, expect to give extra help to people with disabilities, and pay attention to their needs during banquets. Additionally, understand that some guests can be problematic so know how to respond to common scenarios-from dissatisfied guests to badly-behaved children. Hopefully, your tenure as a banquet server will be smooth and uneventful, but even if it’s not, feel confident that you’ve covered all bases by preparing for anything and everything. – Gail Cohen