Updates, Redirects, and “Aren’t You That Guy Who…”

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You should be over here right now

Recently I have noticed a small spike in subscribers to this blog.  That is great.  I appreciate you choosing to subscribe.  I hope to reward you with outstanding content that will make you glad you did.  The problem is that this is not where I am doing that anymore.  In December, I transformed this humble blog into The Hospitality Formula Network.  The network consists of five specific blogs that each focus on a different facet of the hospitality industry.  There is a blog for restaurant servers, restaurant managers, restaurant guests, and even one filled with restaurant humor.  You can learn more about The Hospitality Formula Network here or just visit the home page for previews of the content available on each of the sites.

So I am not going to ask you to take the time to click a link without giving you some reason to do so.  Here are three reasons why I think The Hospitality Formula Network is worth visiting or revisiting if you haven’t in a while.

Weekly Skills Focus: For the last 6 weeks, I have been laying out what I believe are the fundamental keys to improving sales, tips, and creating return guests.  We are currently on week 6 of an 8 week series.  I have dug back through the archives and am spotlighting on key post each week.  I am adding further explanation on the server blog, but doing much more on the manager blog.  Each lesson at The Manager’s Office is also accompanied with key teaching point to make this your pre-shift meeting topic of the week.  In addition, I am including a “lesson plan” as such to explain how to teach the topic throughout the week to increase understanding and server buy-in.  I fully believe that restaurants that follow this plan for all eight weeks will see a dramatic improvement in revenues, morale, and guest happiness.

In-Depth Knowledge:  When I started this blog, I felt it necessary to cover the big picture issues first.  This lead to a lot of posts that introduced philosophies that create the paradigm by which I analyze the restaurant industry.  This is where topics like the 10 Rules of Serving and my Leadership vs Management series for managers came from.  Now I am able to simply reference and link back to those posts when discussing more situational topics.  This blog provided a great deal of background information, the current posts deal more with the real world applications of it.

The Writing is Better: If I am going to be honest with you, I cringe when reading some of the early posts on this blog.  I never claimed to be a great writer.  I have found though that writing like most other skills is something you get better with the more you practice.  300+ posts and over 250,000 words later, I think my writing has improved a bit.  I have a stronger voice and feel more confident writing in it.  I address a number of topics now that I was scared to when I started this blog.  The transition was most apparent to me when shortly after starting the network I began a final round of rewrites and edits on my book.    The blogs and the book both benefited greatly from the efforts that began trying to peck together posts for this blog.

Speaking of which, did I mention that I released a book?  My first book Tips²: Tips For Improving Your Tips was released just two months ago.  I truly believe it is the finest book available on the topic of the skills servers need to make exceptional tips.  I do not say that because I wrote it, I say that because I have spent some time looking into other books available on the topic.  I did not write the book to make a quick buck.  I did not slam some information together and print it up on a Xerox machine.  I did not release an eBook and hope to sell a few copies.  I spent two and a half years writing, testing, editing, rewriting, copy editing, designing and publishing.  I am not looking to sell a few copies while I am working a desk job.  This is not just another product I can sell my consulting clients.

This book is my manifesto on serving.  After 16 years in the business and countless misguided server training programs, I distilled the information that has allowed me to be a successful professional server into a simple format that servers can benefit from immediately.  I founded Hospitality Formula Publishing to help provide this information directly to the hospitality industry.  I have two more books in developement and am on the lookout for other strong voices within the industry that I can help be heard.  This is not a way to market myself.  This is my attempt to fundamentally change the way that servers are trained.

I take seriously the fact that I am not just some consultant who wrote a book.  In less than five hours I will be tying on an apron to start another week serving at The Majestic Restaurant in Kansas City.  I have to say it is a bit odd at times living the double life of author and server.  Over the last two months I have received a bit of publicity.  I have been featured on/in KSHB, KCTV, KCUR, The Pitch, The Kansas City Star, The Employee Lounge, and Tony’s Kansas City.  This leads to the inevitable, “Hey aren’t you that guy who wrote a book?”  If you ever really want to increase the pressure of serving, try to be the server who wrote a book on serving.  There are no more off nights.  You are expected to bring the show to every table every night.  I refuse to be a hypocrite about the things I write about.  I know they work because I do them. 

So thank you for visiting this site.  I hope you enjoyed the post, now get over to The Hospitality Formula Network and let’s change this industry together.

The Reviews Are In

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Read any good books lately?  When I sent out advanced copies of my book, I was hoping someone would say something nice about it.  All of the people who had read it previously did so to edit it.  Something about getting back all the previous copies covered in red ink made me wonder if it was ever going to be ready to be released.  It turns out that it was better than I thought.  I have written a lot about why I think you should by this book, but here are some unbiased reviews from around the web.  Click on the link below any of the quotes to read the full review.

“If all servers in Kansas City took their profession as seriously as David Hayden — waiter, blogger, consultant — the local restaurant scene would be a very different place.”

-Charles Ferruzza, Restaurant Critic, The Pitch June 23rd, 2011

“If you also want inspiration how to increase your tips I recommend the new book of David Hayden.”

Crazy Waiter June 23rd, 2011

“Servers:  go here and buy this book.  Once you read it and apply Mr. Hayden’s techniques and insights, you will start making more money immediately.”

Do You Do That At Home? June 23rd, 2011

“I Recommend This Book For Everyone Who Wants to Make More Money.”

Waiter Extraordinaire June 23rd, 2011

“Everyone involved in the restaurant business can benefit from “Tips².” I’ve been waiting tables for a couple of decades and I got a lot out of reading it. If you run an independent restaurant, unburdeded by the advantage of company-mandated corporate training materials, you should buy several copies of this invaluable resource for your staff. It’ll undoubtedly make your store better and everybody more money.”

These American Servers June 23rd, 2011

“This is a gem of a book.  It’s a detailed took at the guts and sinews of our business, full of tips and techniques that can easily make any restaurant shift more pleasant . . . and more profitable.”

Life On A Cocktail Napkin June 23rd, 2011

“What you need to know about this book is that it is not a collection of stories about serving and it is not a Dummy’s Guide to Waiting Tables. This is a book designed for someone who is in the industry and wants to advance themselves.”

Sock Puppet Army June 24th, 2011

“Let me be blunt – if you are a waiter/server/bartender and you don’t buy this book, then you really don’t care about how much money you make. This book is a multiplier of skills and bank. It’s written in a clear, concise yet comprehensive style. It’s laid out logically and covers just about every topic that a waiter needs to know in terms of maximizing his or her earning potential.”

So You Want To Be A Waiter June 24th, 2011

Each of those bloggers received an advance version of the book because I respect the writing they do and the passion they have for the industry.  I recommend checking out their reviews and their blogs.  They also do a much better job of selling the book than I do.  I still try though and I even made it on television to promote the book.  You can see me discussing the book and the state of service on the local CBS affiliate’s morning show by clicking here.

It has been a tremendous honor to have so many nice things said about something I wrote by writers who I enjoy reading so much.  Thank you to all of them for taking the time to review the book.  I hope that it has the same effect on everyone that reads it.  Want to be one of them?  Head over to the official site of Tips2: Tips For Improving Your Tips and pick up your copy today.  Enter the coupon code “REVIEWS” at checkout to receive $4.00 off until July 31st, 2011.

Announcing Tips²: Tips For Improving Your Tips

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David Hayden

It is with a great deal of pride and excitement that I can finally announce the release of my first book: Tips2: Tips For Improving Your Tips.  I have been teasing this big announcement for months and am glad to finally be making it, even though for regular readers it may be akin to Mitt Romney announcing that he is running for President.  We all know that he hasn’t been in Iowa and New Hampshire for the last two years because he loves the weather.  Today, I am making it official and wanted to take a moment to discuss the book and why I truly think it is something that should be on your bookshelf.

When I was a young server in the nineties I used to pay very close attention to some of my more experienced co-workers.  I noticed that when I was in the weeds other servers were handling far more tables, helping me out, and looking completely stress free.  I wanted to see what they were doing that I wasn’t.  They had a secret and I wanted to know what it was.  I would ask them, but no one could really put their finger on anything they were doing differently than what all the other servers did.  Over the years, I watched my best co-workers like a hawk.  Learning how they phrased things, how they dealt with the dinner rush, and why it was that their guests seemed to enjoy them so much.

As it became more apparent to me that serving was something that I wanted to be able to support myself with, I began to seek out books to help me.  I read books about sales, but found that few of the techniques were easily applied to serving.  I read books about customer service, but they seemed to all be written for managers.  I read the seven habits, found out how to win friends and influence people, discovered the thinking without the growing rich part.  All of these books were great, but very little of it could be directly applied to making me a better server.

Over my years of serving I have been through the training programs of a dozen restaurants.  Each time I finished training, I made a sincere effort to try to follow their system.  It led to disappointing tips straight out of training until I started integrating the techniques that I knew had worked for me in the past.  Each of these training systems had the same two flaws.  The first was that they were written by someone who had not been in front of a table in years.  They were filled with rambling scripts that came across as an infomercial rather than a service oriented interaction.  The second problem was that they were written to be easily understood by the least intelligent person the restaurant could hire.  They often bordered on patronizing as they explained only the very basics.

Fast forward to two and a half years ago when I found myself relaxing on my couch after training a new server on a lunch shift.  The server delivered their “pitch” as the training manual had taught them to.  Not one thing about that pitch would have made me want to purchase what they were selling.  After following me for the shift, this server seemed excited to learn to do it my way.  It reminded me of how I must have looked trying to watch the great servers at the restaurant I started at.  They had asked me how I made it look so easy and I didn’t have a better response than the servers I had asked years before.  I decided to come up with an answer.

Over the next six months I began outlining and writing a book.  I would go into work each day and try to test very specific techniques.  I would tweak and fine tune the tricks I used to find out exactly what worked and why.  Then I would write about them when I returned home.  Once the book was finished it went through numerous rounds of edits and rewrites.  With each time I reviewed it, I put the techniques back into the forefront of my mind and started trying to polish them.  The finished product that I am announcing today looks very little like the first draft.  The first draft was good, but the end result is a book that I think will make a significant impact on server’s income.

I know this book will help any server that implements the lessons in it to improve their service and increase their tips.  That is not hyperbole, exaggeration, or bragging.  I know this is the case because it has improved my tips.  I knew everything in the book because I wrote the book.  Even on the seventh round of edits and rewrites I was finding things that I was slipping on and by reintroducing them found my tips improving.  It is not all revolutionary and new information.  Many of you will know most of the information in it.  Seeing it explained in a different manner and choosing to apply it will place it in the forefront of you mind and help you increase your income.  Those that have been serving long enough to know most of the information will respect more than anyone how one good technique or trick can improve your tips.  I would not put my name on this book if I was not convinced that you could improve your income by more than the price of the book in the first week.

It is not my intention for this post to turn into a sales pitch.  Instead, I would like to sincerely invite you to check out the website for the book at www.tips2book.com.  There are a number of sample chapters available for you to read and reviews from other bloggers who received advance copies of the book.  Take your time to consider whether you feel the book will improve your income.  I have every confidence it will and hope you will consider buying a copy today.

The Best of Tips For Improving Your Tips

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Welcome to the final installment of “best of” week on The Hospitality Formula Network.  Today I am looking back to where it all began.  Tips2 was the original focus when I began blogging.  It is still the largest blog on the network and in my opinion the one that can have the most impact on the income of those who read it.  Lately, posting on this site has been a bit more limited.  The reason for this will become apparent over the next few months.

You will also notice that the blog looks different today.  I changed the format of it from the layout of tipsfortips to a layout more similar to the rest of the blogs on the network.  Today’s “best of” post will also have a different layout from the rest of the posts this week.  The same reason is behind both changes.  For some reason search engines really don’t like this blog.  While a site like foodie knowledge can get over 100 views a day from search engines, this site will be lucky to get five.  Hopefully the format change will help solve this problem.  It also explains why listing the most viewed pages is less informative.

Instead, I am going to focus this post on recapping the articles that I feel have the most potential to increase the income of servers.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Introducing Tips2: Tips For Improving Your Tips

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Tips2: Tips For Improving Your Tips

(Note: This week I am writing double duty.  Each day on this blog I will introduce you to a new site on The Hospitality Formula Network.  I will also be posting new and informative posts on the sites I am introducing.  Today’s post was inspired by out friend the only slightly cranky waitress and deals with building and maintaining rapport with your tables.  It can be read in it’s entirety at the new home of Tips For Improving Your Tips, www.tipssquared.com)

Tips2: Tips For Improving Your Tips is the evolution of what this site was created to be.  This is the home of all server related posts on The Hospitality Formula Network.  The focus of this blog is to provide servers with practical information they can use to create happier guests and bigger tips.  The name is actually very accurate.  This is the next level of server knowledge.  It is the home of a variety of posts that used in combination have the power to improve the service you provide exponentially.

Tips2 is more than just a new version of this site.  It is designed exclusively for servers and those who hope to lead them.  I have cut out all of the information that will not directly improve a server’s income.  No weird restaurant stories.  No posts about leadership.  It is simply the tips that servers can use to improve their tips.  Conveniently indexed and frequently updated to provide the relevant information without the fluff.

Take a look at the new site and let me know what you think.  You will find it nearly identical to this one.  I kept the formatting the same for the convenience of my existing readers.  For those of you who are new to this site, there is a wealth of information waiting for you at Tips2.  Here is a look at what you can find.

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

The Rules of Serving: Rule Seven

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Selling As A Server

The Most Important Phrase You Are Not Using

Using Words That Sell

Selling Away and Selling Up

I Make A Mean Cherry Limeade

Wine Descriptions That Sell

Three Ways to Describe Dishes

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)

How To Sell More Desserts

How To Sell The Bottle

Selling, Upselling, and Integrity

The Lost Art Of Suggestive Selling

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Skills Of A Server

Five Simple Tricks

Budgeting for Servers

Three Ways to Describe Dishes

Foil To-Go: The Swan

Foil To Go: The Shark

Five More Simple Tricks

Making Tips on To-Go Orders

Learning Restaurant Spanish (Nouns)

The Mistake and The Letter

How To Serve A Bottle Of Wine

Job Hunting: The Do’s and Don’ts

Spotting The Complaint

Coupons, Discounts, and How to Deal

Love and Greed

Memorizing Orders

How To Memorize Orders

Resumes For Servers

On A Good Night

Making a Difference

What I Use

Server Safety Tips

How To Make Hostile Guests Love You (Part One)

How To Make Hostile Guests Love You (Part Two)

How To Make Hostile Guests Love You (Part Three)

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Server Issues

A Bit of Publicity and the Response

Fighting For The Server Wage

A Few More Thoughts On Emmer

Refuting Emmer’s Myths

Remembering Labor on Labor Day

The Disadvantages of Set Schedules

The Advantages of Set Schedules

10 Reasons Why Serving Is Not Like Your Job

Serving Sober

Recommended Reading 11/1

Server Safety Tips

Recommended Reading 11/8

The Economics of Tipping

A World Without Tips

Critiquing The Server

 

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

Thank You Mister Robinson

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Photo by Chris Cummins Kansascity.com

(Note: I wrote this piece last week upon hearing this untimely news.)

I never worked for Paul Robinson.  To the best of my knowledge I never even waited on him.  When I read today that he passed away on Monday it probably should not have affected me the way it did.  Honestly, I am not sure that I have any right to be writing this post.  Mr Robinson had a greater impact on thousands of lives than he had on mine.  Still I can’t help but feel sadness at the loss of a man who was a restaurant legend in the truest sense of the word.

I grew up with the legend of Gilbert/Robinson.  Two restaurateurs that changed the face of the industry and ran nearly every great dining spot in town.  At one point “GR” ran nearly all of the restaurants in Kansas City’s main dining district, The Country Club Plaza, as well as concessions for the airport and both stadiums.  It boggles my mind to think of a single company controlling such a large number of the city’s outlets.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

How To Make Hostile Guests Love You (Part Three)

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(Note: in order to get the most out of this post you should read parts one and two.  They create the foundation for this summary post and will be referenced frequently.)

My friend Marcy has the innate ability to intimidate people.  She is a beautiful 5’8” blonde attending law school.  She is aware of having this effect on people, but neither of us truly understands why.  While other people see the surface, I have seen her trip over her own feet and know that she occasionally enjoys cold marinara as a salad dressing.  This makes her far less intimidating to me.  Where others are intimidated by her appearance, I know that there is a health portion of inner dork beneath the surface.

As a server, you must be aware of your intimidation factor.  There are most likely traits that you have which will intimidate your guests and create hostility.  While you cannot change these, you need to be able to counterbalance them by relating to your guests in a way that overcomes them.  Remember the third rule of serving: generic servers receive generic tips.  The key to winning over a hostile guest is to not be a generic server by showing that you are professional, human, and similar to them.

Integrating these characteristics into a serving routine is not as difficult as it appears.  Over the course of a meal there is time to convey all of these traits to them.  They are not contradictory, but rather compliment each other nicely by creating an image of you as a well-rounded person.  To win over hostile guests you must be more than a one-dimensional person reciting the same lines you do with every table.  You must exceed the guest’s preconceived notions of you and become someone more relatable.  Tripping over your own feet is optional.

Here are the steps to integrating the factors discussed in the first two parts of this series to win over hostile guests.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

How To Make Hostile Guests Love You (Part Two)

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Like the old saying, "you catch more fly honeys with vinegar..." or something like that.

Years ago I had the good fortune of working for a man named John Maria.  I have had many bosses over the years, but none had a better fundamental understanding of human nature than John.  One day he gave me a book and told me to read it.  He said the answer to almost every life problem was found in this book.  It was a pretty bold claim, but I did learn a great deal from reading the book.

I pulled out the book recently and read the chapter regarding this topic.  The book is called, “Get Anyone To Do Anything” by David J. Lieberman, PhD.  While the title is a bit of hyperbole (hence me writing this blog rather than living in Bill Gates’ mansion with Alyssa Milano) there is a great deal of wisdom in it.  Dr Lieberman gives incredible insight into human nature and how to use it to your advantage.

In the book, Dr Lieberman makes a very convincing argument that there are two important factors that primarily determine whether or not people like you:

Read the full story at Tips For Improving Your Tips

How To Make Hostile Guests Love You (Part One)

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There was a better solution

One of the most difficult situations any server faces is the hostile guest.  I call them hostile, because they are angry with you long before you have even greeted them.  Some people just bring all the hostility of their day in to a restaurant and dump it on their server.  From the moment you greet them, they make it clear that they know you are only smiling because you have to and that none of your upselling mind tricks are going to work on them.  The average server can spot this right away and provides adequate service while avoiding small talk at all cost.

This approach is the response the guest is accustomed to.  It reconfirms their belief that the only reason you were being friendly in the first place was to get their tip.  They peg you as a phony and the restaurant version of détente is underway.  Most servers try to avoid this type of guest.  In reality though these guests are the ones you can make the biggest impact on.  Once you learn how to defuse these time bomb guests, you are well on your way to building a regular for life.

Read the full story at Tips For Improving Your Tips

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