Check Yourself

Is your check-handling routine up to par?

First impressions are key, but a server’s last impression is the icing on the cake. When it comes to providing excellent service, it’s important to recognize verbal, nonverbal and visual queues given by the diner during the wrap-up of the meal.

Delivering the check at the end of the meal doesn’t exactly feel like the most heart-warming or welcoming gesture, but it’s nothing to sell short. As a server, you should be confident in the service you provided, which is implied on the price of the check. Always present the check with pride and graciousness to your diner.

It is unclear in the American culture whether or not it is appropriate to present the check without the diner having asked for it. Plain and simple, some diners expect a check to be delivered promptly following the meal, and some would rather ask for it.

As a server, it is important to have the check ready when you notice your party wrapping up their meal. Then, keep a close eye on these queues to indicate when it is appropriate to deliver the check.

  1. The diner places his wallet on the table, or even his credit card.
  2. She fumbles through her purse to find her wallet, placing it on her lap.
  3. The diner graciously pushes his finished plate to the middle of the table.
  4. He queues he’s done with his meal by placing his napkin on the table, or his utensils over his plate.
  5. The diner hand-signals as if he’s writing his signature in the air.
  6. The diner signals your attention with a head nod.

Keeping in tune with your diner is key from the beginning to the end of their meal. If you find that your diner has not given any of these queues freely, try asking if there is anything else you can assist them with. This tells them you’re ready when they are, but does not push them out the door.

Remember, presenting the check with ease is your final impression inviting the diner to come back and join you for another meal.