I've been working in the restaurant business since my first job. Although that was only 7 years ago, a relatively short amount of time to be in this game, I've picked up on quite a bit of ins and outs of running, managing, and optimizing restaurants.
From fast food boy, to line cook, to managing a kitchen, to (now) serving...I feel I can give a few points of view that may be insightful. 'Food for thought', if you will.
My first blog is going to be covering something I've noticed in my short amount of time as a server. I spent a lot of time working in kitchens, but decided to move to the front of house, as I'm very much a people person and I enjoy the thrill of subjective and flexible rewards for my work.
Which is exactly first point: You're selling.
You're not a server. At all. You are a sales person. You're job, from beginning to end, is to sell your restaurant. Not just the food and drink, but the entire place. I'm talking atmosphere, comfort, conversation (if they're up for it), make jokes, being fun...the whole bit. Because when it comes to a customer deciding to go with 'the usual' or the choice of a new menu item, a new drink, and possibly a whole new outlook on the restaurant, it's obvious what we want their choice to be.
I've been hearing servers for years talk about how their 'tips weren't so good' or 'that guy stiffed me' or even 'I've got some REAL BITCHES at table 14'. Why? Well, as I'm now in the world those servers live in, I'm seeing why. And that's exactly me question: 'Why?' The reason: from beginning to end, they simply aren't selling. They aren't the servers who are making sure they check up on the tables. They aren't actively looking for a chance to chime in on ANYTHING being said at the table. From a side comment about yesterday's game, to hearing them comment on some girl's outfit, you should be looking for a chance to jump into the conversation and let them know you're more than just that guy or girl who is bringing them food.
I recently had a gentleman tell the manager during my shift he'd been coming to the restaurant for 10 years, and that I had, 'by far, given the best service' they had ever had. What did I do out of the ordinary? I saw he had a Harley Davidson credit card, and I asked as I returned his check slip, "So, I gotta ask, what kind of motorcycle do you have?" The man looked stumped as to how I knew and I explained I saw his card and assumed. He then led me on a ten minute conversation on his love of his bike. Was that so hard? No. But it paid off. I was selling. Not just the restaurant that cares about your interests, but the server wants to know all about it. And timed perfectly with his signing of the bill and tipping me - I was selling myself and setting myself up one last time. From that table I made 25%, tip-wise.
Every chance you have - Opening greeting, getting drinks, getting orders, delivering food, getting the check...they're all key points in checking in on a table and 'selling' - the food, the restaurant, and, most importantly, yourself.
The servers I've experienced complaining over the years? they just weren't selling. They were getting food. They weren't servers - they were workers.
Be a real server - be a 'salesperson'
...to be continued...