The Lost Art Of Suggestive Selling

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This will be relevant by the end of the post.

“Subtlety is the art of saying what you think and getting out of the way before it is understood.” –Anonymous

We as a society have really lost the power of subtlety.  It could be because we have lost the patience to unravel it.  We receive far more information on a daily basis than our ancestors a hundred years ago could even process.  Most of this information is not subtle.  It is blasted at us with bells and whistles to get our attention.  The news channels do not just report the news, they also tell us what to think about it.  Movies no longer imply that a couple is about to “make whoopee”, they show us the scenes in the trailer.  In a few generations we have gone from Marilyn Monroe standing over a vent to Britney Spears getting out of a limousine.

With all of these changes, we have forgotten what it means to be “suggestive.”  This is particularly true in restaurants.  A few decades ago, corporate restaurants determined that they wanted their servers to be sales people.  The also determined that they had no interest in paying for the training necessary to actually accomplish this.  Instead, they decided to teach their servers to use adjectives and “suggestive selling.”  One of the first posts on this blog was declaring my disdain for the overuse of adjectives.  I recently realized that I never discussed my equal dislike for the corporate restaurant incarnation of “suggestive selling.”

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

A World Without Tips

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A world without tips

I am still incredibly grateful for my recent guest post on tipping.  It inspired my response that discussed the economics of tipping.  It also raised a few other interesting points that I am now learning are common misconceptions about restaurants.  For people who have never worked in a restaurant, these misconceptions can easily be mistaken as facts.  Upon further consideration they may not be wise to pursue.  One interesting idea that she raised in the post was raising the wages paid to server by restaurants to replace tipping.  While on the surface it seems quite logical, it would have a disastrous impact on the industry.

Restaurants are operated on incredibly thin profit margins.  As discussed in a previous post, large corporate restaurant chains are extremely susceptible to anything that affects their stock prices. With a huge spike in the cost of labor, restaurant stock prices would crumble.  Independent restaurant owners struggling to stay afloat would shutter.  Consumers would lose choices.  A vast majority of restaurants would survive this initial wave, but be forced into the next step.

The remaining restaurants would set a wage for servers considerably lower than what the servers make now.  Professional servers with years of experience would have to settle for the new rate or venture into a new career field.  Between servers quitting and terminations, restaurants would reduce the size of their server staff by about a third.  Servers who worked four table sections before would now be required to work six tables for less money.  This would reduce the damage to the restaurant’s bottom line, but also drastically reduce the quality of service that was provided to guests.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Making a Difference

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Hey guys could we get some saucers?

The weekend is upon us.  Friday and Saturday nights get busy and take a lot out of us.  The pace is faster, the side stations are more crowded, and all of the saucers in the restaurant seem to hide.  The guests do not seem to understand any of this and have far less patience.  This leads to frustration on our part and the feeling of  a battle.  A normally nice restaurant turns into a fortress.  The staff fortifies as an army defending against the invading hordes.  Trying to get them fed so they will retreat.  The evening ends with the restaurant looking like a battlefield.  We gather our wounded at the end of the night and plan our invasion of someplace that stays open later than our restaurant does.

Friday and Saturday nights are called “amateur hour” because the guests are less restaurant savvy.  They are not as aware of the burdens they place on us by all deciding to come out to eat on the same night.  They are less patient, less informed, and less generous.  We wish for one moment they could step in our shoes and know our struggles.  Yet, how often do we extend them the same courtesy?  Take a couple minutes to watch this video before answering.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

On A Good Night

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On the great nights

(Note: I am enjoying the final day of my mini vacation.  Having a great trip.  Met my favorite musician and a personal hero yesterday.  Today I will be taking the scenic drive through the Ozark hills of Central Missouri.  This is a post I wrote a couple months ago.  Not my standard fare, but I hope you all enjoy it.)

Some nights I just love waiting tables.  They are the nights where everything goes right.  The guests are congenial and friendly.  You make connections with your tables and they are happy.  They take your recommendations and commend you on them afterwards.  It almost doesn’t seem like work.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Resumes For Servers

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What I meant by "Head Trainer" was "Head Trainer of Dishwashers."

“You should never write your own resume, personal ad, or obituary.  In all three cases it is better to show your humility by letting someone else lie for you.”

-David Hayden

Every since picking up a copy of Peter’s Quotations in high school it has been a personal goal of mine to quote myself in something I wrote.  I can now check that one of the bucket list.  Contrary to the impression I give writing this blog, I am actually a pretty humble guy.  I consider humility an attribute.  In most cases it serves a person well.  Writing a resume is not one of those cases.

Writing a successful resume requires the writer to place the most positive spin on their achievements possible.  This does not mean lying, but rather fully accentuating the positive.  There is no room for humility in resume writing.  It is assumed by the reader that a resume contains a fair amount of exaggeration.  If you do not include that exaggeration, your humility will be mistaken for it.

I recently was asked by a friend to take a look at her resume.  She had a big interview coming up and wanted to have a fresh set of eyes to take a look over it.  I determined at this point there are two types of people in this world: those who edit and those who write.  I write, but am not so strong on the editing side (as many of you who read regularly have gathered).  I returned to her what I consider a very strong server resume.  She gave me permission to share parts of it with you and I think it can provide some inspiration for anyone writing their own.

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A Food Critic Intervention

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Above My Computer

There have been several instances while writing posts for this blog where I have felt the need to place blame for the things that drive me crazy about the restaurant business.  I have always managed to stop short of that because I do not want this to be a blog that complains about the problems we are all aware of.  My mission is a little different.  I want to help servers make more money by exceeding their guests’ expectations. Whenever I find myself kvetching too much I only have too look at the Woody Guthrie quote that I keep hanging above my computer to get me back on track.

I consider myself fortunate to have worked with some great “old school” waiters who instilled in me a respect for the industry and the way things used to be.  I have heard tales of the days when people dressed for dinner, left the kids at home, and did not ask for ranch on their Caesar salads.  Since I did not cause the mass corporate casual restaurant to become the norm, I do not complain about it.  I try to adapt to a world where anyone with a yahoo username can be a food critic and hundreds of cooking shows allows everyone to consider themselves a chef de cuisine.  I do so because this is an industry that I love and respect.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

How To Memorize Orders

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brain

I know that order is in here somewhere

(Note: In yesterdays post I discussed why I feel it is beneficial to memorize orders.  I will not recap to avoid redundancy, which itself if redundant in this post.)

I am terrible with names.  Not particularly good with faces either.  I will forget three things every time I take a trip.  I promise I will remember to bring that CD I was telling you about next time I see you.  I have left the house in my slippers.  This seems like a good chance to wish a happy belated birthday to everyone who had one before the days when Facebook reminded me.  There was a point to this paragraph, but I am not sure what it was.

If you ask most of my friends, they will gladly tell you how forgetful I am.  If you ask my guests, they will tell you I am some sort of memorization genius.  Memorizing orders is skill rather than a talent.  A talent is something you are born with.  A skill is something you get better at through technique and practice.  I am an absent minded person who has trained himself to be highly proficient at memorizing orders.

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The Upside of Dating Co-Workers

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(Note: This is part two of the point/counter-point of dating co-workers.  In part one I recalled the painful situations I have seen and experienced over the years.  Taking the side of dating co-workers is our resident Spanish language adviser and PhD candidate Senor Esparza.  He takes the position that it is in fact beneficial to date co-workers.  Obviously there is a middle ground we would both advocate.  No amount of logic or reason is going to prevent or cause anyone to enter into a workplace relationship.  This series if for entertainment value only.  If you are not reading it with a smile, you might be missing the joke.)

Soundtrack inserted by yours truly.


I will not attempt to refute the points that our favorite restaurant blogger has made.  Much of the rationale behind his screed warning people off of dating co-workers is grounded both his experience and the experience of many others.   This being said, I am going to frame the issue a little bit differently.  I would argue that not only is dating a co-worker natural consequence explainable by proximity empiricism, but in many cases can be preferable to dating people that you have not gotten to know through the course of working with them.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

Extras and Upcharges

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upcharge

Upcharges come in a variety of shapes and sizes

I received a message the other day from a friend and reader of the blog who is not in the business. She recounted going out to eat and asking for a few extras. When the bill came it was filled with minor charges for each of the items she requested. Her concern was not that the charges were there, but that they weren’t mentioned in advance. She wondered what I thought the protocol was here.

The answer is not really a simple one. There are no hard and fast rules because there is a fundamental lack misunderstanding between restaurant owners and guests that servers are forced into the middle of. Restaurant owners feel that they have priced meals for value and if you ask for something extra, the costs should be passed along. Guests believe that they can make the same item for less at home so owner’s profit margins are sufficient enough to give away the extras. Servers are forced to defend both sides while staying loyal both to the owners that gave them a job and the guests who pay them.

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Foil To Go: The Shark

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It’s “Shark Week” from all indications. The time when a certain television network rolls out a weeks worth of shark related shows that everyone feels the need to watch and discuss over dinner at my restaurant.  Personally I would love to see the same principle used on “National Debt Week” or “Health Insurance Reform Week” or “We Are Still Fighting Two Wars Week.”  But I digress.  I guess sharks are more interesting.  Which is why this post is on foil sharks rather than foil preexisting conditions.

My post on the foil swan received a great deal of comments from people I have met that read the blog.  It is by no means the only foil animal I have done over the years.  Swans are pretty easy to make though.  I intended to make it a recurring feature of the blog.  Then my roommate used the last of the foil for cooking or something completely unimportant like that.  Well, a new roll has been procured and today I give you the foil shark.

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