Busser Job Description
Bussers help maintain restaurant operations by setting and clearing tables and maintaining a high level of cleanliness within the dining room. In addition, many bussers provide support to wait staff and servers by acting as runners during meal service. Bussers also contribute to customer service by filling water glasses at the table, supplying new utensils as requested, and answering customer questions.
This role requires excellent time management skills as well as the ability to set priorities and quickly respond to changing needs within the dining room. Because a restaurant’s dining room can be a high-pressure environment, bussers should also be able to handle stress while delivering a high level of service.
Busser Duties and Responsibilities
While busser duties can vary somewhat between restaurants, many of the core responsibilities remain the same:
Clear Dishes and Utensils
One of the primary responsibilities of a busser is to clear dishes and utensils from tables after customers have completed their meals. Bussers collect these dishes and utensils and place them in a bus bin throughout their shift. Then they carry them back to the kitchen and hand them off to dishwashers.
Clean and Prepare Tables
Bussers also maintain a clean dining room by cleaning and preparing tables once customers leave and before new customers arrive. Bussers wipe down tables with a cloth to remove food or spills. If a tablecloth has stains from a previous diner, the busser removes that tablecloth and replaces it with a new one. Bussers may also sweep up crumbs, freshen centerpieces, or refill condiments that remain on the table.
Set Dining Room Tables
Bussers also prepare tables in the dining room by setting out new utensils between parties. They may also be responsible for placing napkins, plates, and fresh water glasses on these tables for the next diners to use. Bussers should be able to quickly assess what steps they need to take to prepare tables and ensure that they look neat and clean for the next set of diners.
Provide Server Support
Many bussers also provide support to servers and wait staff, mainly by acting as runners. This usually means that bussers bring prepared dishes out to the table. If there is a large party of diners, a busser may set up a tray stand for waiters and place a tray of dishes there for them to hand out to customers.
Fill Customer Beverages
Bussers also provide front-line customer service by actively monitoring tables and refilling beverages and other drinks throughout dinner service. Depending on the restaurant, a busser may also take initial customer drink orders and relay them to bartenders or servers.
Busser Skills and Qualifications
Bussers play an important role in maintaining a restaurant and providing excellent customer service. Restaurants tend to hire bussers with the following skills:
- Physical Stamina – Bussers work long shifts on their feet, often carrying heavy trays of dishes and silverware, so they need a high level of stamina
- Time Management – Bussers also need strong time management skills to prioritize their duties and maintain the dining room’s flow of customers
- Teamwork – They often work with servers, dishwashers, bartenders, and hosts, so bussers need strong teamwork skills
- Customer Service Skills – Bussers don’t interact with customers as much as servers, but they should still have some customer service skills and be able to positively represent the restaurant
- Cleaning Skills – They maintain clean tables within the dining room, so bussers have solid cleaning skills and understand the restaurant’s presentation standards
Busser Education and Training
This role tends to be entry-level, so bussers can work without a high school diploma or equivalent. There are many opportunities for on-the-job training in this role, and bussers who exhibit strong customer service skills may be able to advance to a position as a server or bartender. While some customer service experience can help them secure employment, willingness to learn is even more important and can help bussers get their start in the industry.
Busser Salary and Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide estimates for busser salaries, but this role tends to start at minimum wage in many restaurants. This means that hourly pay can vary depending on the state or city that the busser works within. In some cases, bussers may receive a share of tips based on the number of hours they worked, which can increase average take-home pay.
While the BLS does not provide employment outlook estimates specifically for bussers, employment for “Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers,” which includes bussers, is expected to grow 14 percent between 2016 and 2026.
If you’re interested in finding out more about working as a busser or beginning a career in the food service industry, check out the following books and web resources:
“Service 101: The Importance of Bussing” – Read tips and best practices for bussing tables as well as how the busser’s role affects restaurant performance and customer satisfaction.
Remarkable Service – Read about how to provide exceptional customer service in any kind of restaurant with this thorough guide by The Culinary Institute of America for bussers, servers, and bartenders.
“Should You Bus Your Tables Early? 4 Tips for Successful Bussing” – This helpful article looks at the many considerations that go into bussing tables and balancing customer service and satisfaction with quick and effective table turnover.
Restaurant Customer Service: 99 Tips – This book by Gary Wrenn provides advice and guidance for customer-facing employees in the food service and restaurant industries.
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