The Rules of Serving: Rule Seven

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Unfortunately, none of the class could read the rules. Those who cannot read Animal Farm are doomed to repeat it.

 

Rule Seven: Be the coworker you want to have.

Once you have been at a particular restaurant for any length of time, the floor chart can tell you a great deal about how your shift will go.  Most servers can see the people they are working with and find reason for either optimism or frustration.  Some shifts, you see names that you know can take care of whatever is thrown at them and still be able to help you if you need it.  Other shifts, you are surrounded by people who are lazy and unwilling to help.  The difference between a smooth shift and one you have to struggle through can often be just a couple of coworkers.

Which begs a question.  When your coworkers see your name on the floor chart are they put at ease or anticipating extra work?  No one likes to work with a person who is a ball of stress and can barely keep ahead of their own section.  No one likes working with someone who does only the minimum to keep their guests happy.  If you are not someone who people feel confident working beside, then you are part of the problem.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Awkward Moments

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Hi, may I take your order?

Over the last 15 years I have spent in the service industry, I have had to change my approach.  15 years ago, I was a gangly 6-foot tall 125-pound server with a voice somewhere in the Justin Bieber range.  I looked only slightly older than him.  A head of grey hair has made me change my demeanor a bit.  Nowadays I can pull off the professional waiter role as well as most anyone.  The only thing I haven’t learned to control is the shade of red I turn when blushing at awkward situations.

In the past I have written about moments I have made awkward.  There are still the “foot in mouth” moments that cause me to be extremely embarrassed.  I have not learned to control the physiological response of turning red enough that if I was a lobster, someone would pull me out of the pot.  The thing that was left out of the previous post was the fact that I do not cause most of these situations.  While I do create awkward situations from time to time, most of the time the blame falls firmly on the guests.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

Seafood During Pregnancy

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If you sell seafood at your restaurant, you will inevitably come in contact with pregnant women concerned whether or not it is safe.  During pregnancy the only thing you get more than designer baby clothes that the child won’t be able to appreciate is advice on what not to eat.  Seafood is confusing to expectant mothers because it’s health benefits are touted as frequently as it is warned against.  The key for servers is being able understand what the warnings are about and what seafood to caution against.  Being able to concisely explain to expectant mothers what is and is not safe is relatively easy once you understand the reason for the warnings.

Seafood contains a great number of benefits for both mother and child.  Seafood contains DHA a type of Omega-3 acid that actually helps with a child’s brain development.  Seafood can also be high in calcium, iron, and vitamin D.  It has also been linked to delaying premature births.  For mothers, seafood is low in fat, but high in protein.  The Omega-3s in seafood have even been shown to reduce post partum depression.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

Why Not To Date Co-Workers

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On the downside, you work a double with them tomorrow

It is that time of year.  Love or at least heavy lust is in the air.   That means just one thing in the restaurant business.  It is too hot to sit on the patio.  Well that and co-workers are starting the annual mating ritual.  At the most recent count, there are six confirmed couples at my restaurant.  I was discussing this with some co-workers when someone said, “hey, you should write a blog about that.”  I had pondered it before, but never thought there was much to cover.  My opinion is simple and based on a great deal of experience.  Dating co-workers is a horrible idea.  My friend disagreed and offered to write the counter-point.  So today we kick off a two part series on dating co-workers.

I am a child of the 80s and was raised on John Hughes movies.  The hopeless romantic streak runs strong in me.  I have been in this business for 15 years and of course I have dated co-workers.  I have seen 15 years worth of work couples and even been in a few of their weddings.  I have seen co-workers have babies.  I have seen co-workers divorce. My opinion is still clear though, don’t date your co-workers.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

Supply, Demand, and Chicken Wings

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I only chose this picture because I heard she was an economist

Yesterday’s post on extra charges for the various items a guest requests caused me to ponder on a larger scale.  It is remarkably common to hear guests say, “I could buy that steak/wine/etc at the store for half that much.”  This is the same principle as walking into a car dealership and demanding a price based on the total price of the steel, glass, and plastic contained in the car.  In both cases, the price of production goes far beyond the cost of the raw materials.  Next week, I will be addressing in detail the difference between the actual cost of an item as simple as a burger and also the actual price of production.  When the cost of labor and overhead is factored in, a burger is far less profitable than the average consumer would imagine.

First, it is necessary to establish as a premise that food is a commodity.  A meal is comprised of many components each of which has a finite supply.  There are only so many acres of wheat or corn being produced.  There are also only so much beef, poultry, pork, and seafood being brought to market.  This means that supply is more of less the same and therefore demand is what determines the price restaurants pay.  The commodity we are all most familiar with is oil.  When demand for oil rises worldwide the price rises as well.  This is followed shortly by a rise in the price of gasoline.  We as consumers understand why this affects gas prices, but rarely do we relate it to restaurants.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

The Rules of Serving: Rule Six

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Rule Six: Never spend money you haven’t made.

I am glad July of 2010 is behind me.  I cannot recall a month that was less lucrative in my serving career.  My income dropped by well over 50% last month.  Unbearable heat combined with a disproportionate number of patio shifts took a chunk out of my savings.  I had planned for a slow month, but not one this slow.

I was fortunate enough to follow my own advice on saving and budgeting.  I keep my living expenses low and save during good months.  This allowed me to avoid the month being devastating financially. I stay out of debt and carry no credit cards.  My car is paid for and my rent is minimal.  My savings was depleted, but not drained.

Read the full story at Tips For Improving Your Tips

The Index

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This index was created in order to make this blog easier to navigate and allow you to get the most out of the information contained within.  Several of these topics overlap.  If you were sent here by a search engine or from another post and have not been able to find the information you were looking for please leave a comment.  I am always looking for new topics and want to make this as comprehensive a source as possible.

The best way to keep up with this blog is to subscribe on the homepage or join the Facebook Fan Page to receive noticed when it is updated.

Section One: The Rules Of Serving

The Rules: Rules 1-10

The Rules of Serving: Rules One and Two

The Rules of Serving: Rule Three

The Rules of Serving: Rule Four

The Rules of Serving: Rule Five

The Rules of Serving: Rule Six

Section Two: Selling As A Server

I Make A Mean Cherry Limeade

Using Words That Sell

The Most Important Phrase You Are Not Using

Selling Away and Selling Up

How To Sell More Desserts

In Defense of Selling as a Server (Part One)

In Defense of Selling as a Server (Part Two)

In Defense of Selling as a Server (Part Three)

Wine Descriptions That Sell

Selling, Upselling, and Integrity

How To Sell The Bottle

Section Three: Skills Of A Server

Three Ways to Describe Dishes

Budgeting for Servers

Foil To-Go: The Swan

Foil To Go: The Shark

Learning Restaurant Spanish (Nouns)

Five Simple Tricks

Five More Simple Tricks

Fruit Flies

How To Serve A Bottle Of Wine

Job Hunting: The Do’s and Don’ts

Spotting The Complaint

The Mistake and The Letter

Coupons, Discounts, and How to Deal

Making Tips on To-Go Orders

Extras and Upcharges

Memorizing Orders

How To Memorize Orders

Resumes For Servers

Making a Difference

What I Use

Server Safety Tips

Section Four: Food and Wine

Foodie Friday: Beef Made Easy (Part One)

Foodie Friday: Beef Made Easy (Part Two)

Foodie Friday: Beef Made Easy (Part Three)

Foodie Friday: Types of Crab

Foodie Friday: Salmon Basics

Foodie Fridays: Salmon Species

Foodie Friday: Health and Environmental Impacts of Farm Raised Salmon

Foodie Friday: Fact or Fiction

Pasta Name Origins

Cherry Limeade Recipe

Five Great Food Stories

Understanding French Sauces (Part One)

Understanding French Sauces (Part Two)

Espresso Drinks

How Wild Fish Is Caught

Introducing: The Designated Drinker

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Fun Crab Facts and Jokes

Supply, Demand, and Chicken Wings

Cost vs Profit

Seafood During Pregnancy

Regional Barbeque Styles

Designated Drinker: Harry’s Bar Bellini

Wine Apps for your Phone

A Food Critic Intervention

Ranch Dressing and Why We Love It

Dr Strange Salmon

Searches Answered

Lobster Facts and Trivia

The Stumpers

Prosciutto, Pancetta, and Serrano

Section Five: Motivating and Leading Servers

The Epiphany

Why Contests Don’t Work

How Money Motivates

What Motivates Servers: Autonomy

What Motivates Servers: Mastery

What Motivates Servers: Purpose

Sergeants and Generals

Ways To Motivate Servers

Management Mentality Mistakes

Love and Greed

Set Schedules As A Manager

Making a Difference

The Keys To Leadership

Leadership: Creating A Shared Goal

Leadership: Empowering Others

Leadership: Leading by Example

Leadership: Improving Others


Section Six: The Other Perspectives

Understanding Restaurants: The Other Perspectives

Understanding Restaurants: The Manager’s Perspective

Understanding Restaurants: The Guest Perspective

Understanding Restaurants: The Owner’s Perspective

Cost vs Profit

Independent vs Corporate Restaurant Priorities

Section Seven: A Bit Of Humor

Servers Vs Dentists

How To Flirt With Your Server

I Make Mistakes Too

Top Ten Songs About Waitresses

Retiring Jokes

The Evolution of Free Bread

The Card

Why Not To Date Co-Workers

The Upside of Dating Co-Workers

Awkward Moments

Story Time: Injuries

My Response: 25 Things Chefs Never Tell You

The Greatest Customer Complaint Response Ever

Aspirational Dining Defined

Aspirational Dining in a Recession

On A Good Night

Top 10 Songs About Dancing

Restaurant Etiquette: Pop Quiz

Restaurant Etiquette: Quiz Answers

David Goes To Dentist

Section Eight: Weird Restaurant Stories

Weird Restaurant Stories 8/21

Weird Restaurant Stories 8/28

Weird Restaurant Stories 9/4

Weird Restaurant Stories 9/11

Weird Restaurant Stories 9/18

Weird Restaurant Stories 9/25

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/2

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/9

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/16

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/23

Weird Restaurant Stories 10/30

Weird Restaurant Stories 11/6

Section Nine: Server Issues

Fighting For The Server Wage

Refuting Emmer’s Myths

A Few More Thoughts On Emmer

Remembering Labor on Labor Day

Monday Morning Recap

The Disadvantages of Set Schedules

The Advantages of Set Schedules

Set Schedules As A Manager

Five Stories Worth Reading

10 Reasons Why Serving Is Not Like Your Job

Serving Sober

Tipping On To Go Orders

Hot Schedules Reviewed: Part One

Hot Schedules Reviewed: Part Two

Recommended Reading 11/1

Section Ten: About This Blog

By Way Of Introduction

Top Five Posts You Probably Missed

A Bit of Publicity and the Response

Clip Show: Starting a Blog

It’s A Brave New World

100th Post Extravaganza

First 100 Posts Recap

Best of KC 2010

Plaza Art Fair

Calling All Experts

Thank You!

October Review

The Rules of Serving: Rule Five

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Rule Five: Always recommend what is in the guest’s best interest, not yours.

(Note: There are many hyperlinks today that will send you to posts were I have previously addressed specifically issues that I address in this post.)

This is the second time in two days I have sat down to write this post.  Yesterday, I got caught up in a tangent which I think serves as an important preface to this post.  It even inspired a comment immediately that proved its accuracy.  In the preface, I discuss how restaurant companies have encouraged servers to focus on upselling and thus significantly damaged the relationship between servers and their guests.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Selling, Upselling, and Integrity

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I sat down today to write about rule five.  As I did so I realized that a preface was in order.  This morning I sat on my patio drinking coffee and reviewing the outline that I have scribbled on a legal pad. I began thinking about why this post was even necessary.  It should be common sense not to try to rip off your guests.  “Always recommend what is in the guest’s best interest, not yours” should go without saying.  Unfortunately, it directly contradicts what many servers are being encouraged to do.  So much so that even the guests know it.

I experienced this yesterday.  Waiting on a large group of teachers at lunch, I offered recommendations off the menu.  I suggested the sockeye salmon the chef was offering as his daily special.  I mentioned the flavor difference of wild caught salmon.  I discussed the life cycle, diet, and high levels of omega 3.  When I took the order, most of them chose my recommendation.  The last one looked up at me and said, “you are a great salesman, so I will have the salmon too.”  I was taken aback by this statement.  My description was more reminiscent of a teacher or a food critic than a salesman.  I did not use a “close” or try to appeal to their emotions.  I tried to sell them the best item by educating them and allowing them to make an informed decision.  My response to her was, “The difference is I will be here for the entire time you have the plate in front of you.  That is a guarantee no salesperson can make.”

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

How To Sell More Desserts

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I suppose I should start this post by thanking all of the servers who are still reading after my six post series on management and motivation.  I know it is a server blog, but I also recognize that a large portion of my readership is comprised of managers.  I hope those who read it found it interesting.  I promise to stick to server information for the next few days.   Today I wanted to come up with a big payoff for those that stuck with me through the series.

Today is one of my most loyal readers birthdays.  I noticed this and decided to dedicate a post to her for her birthday.  Becky was the first person I met as a result of this blog.  This is actually her second mention in the blog.  As I thought about what to write about in her honor, a light bulb went off.  In honor of one of the sweetest people I know, a post about desserts is in order.  I can’t buy her a free dessert, but I can write a free post about one.  So for Becky, I am for the second time digging into the folder titled “book” and posting some previously written material on desserts.

Let’s be honest.  If chocolate, cheesecake, and apple pie were healthy, calorie free, and provided you with all your daily vitamins and minerals, would you ever eat a salad?  Most people like steaks, salads, and pastas, but they love dessert.  Yet most servers will sell far more entrees than desserts.  Your guests come to the table with a great number of expectations and beliefs.  One of the most common beliefs is that ordering dessert is gluttonous or wasteful.  While you should not try to change that belief, you can always take a shot at being an exception to it.

Selling desserts is about exploiting the contradiction between what the guest feels they should do and what they want to do.  Buying a dessert is an emotional decision rather than a logical one.  You have to make the dessert appeal to their senses.  You have to instill the belief that the pleasure they will receive will outweigh any guilt they may feel afterwards.

In order to capitalize on these emotions to sell desserts, keep in mind the following concepts.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

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