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 The Bottle

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There really is no greater subtle statement of status in a restaurant than having a great bottle of wine on your table.  The surrounding tables all take notice.  It is a declaration of class and announces to the dining room that you can afford the finer things in life.  It is a reward.  It is the stuff of memories.  It is romantic.  It is professional.  It tells the world you mean business.

It is also expensive.  It is no secret that restaurant’s markup on wine is often absurdly high.  While more expensive bottles have lower markup, they still can be intimidating to guests.  Guests want all of the perceptions in the first paragraph, but between the price, uncertainty about the wine list, and the amount of wine they may be fearful of the commitment.  This often times leads them to order only a glass at a time.  As a server, part of your job is to make people comfortable ordering what they want to order.  The guests want the bottle.  Your job is to make them comfortable with the purchase by addressing any of the three issues listed above that they might have.

There are two things you must know in order to make this work:

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

What Motivates Servers: Purpose

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(Note: This is the final part of a six part series dealing with what does and does not motivate servers.  It is based upon research presented in the first part.  If you have not read the initial post entitled “The Epiphany”, I highly recommend you do so to fully understand the series.  Later parts dealt with how money fails and succeeds to motivate servers.  The most recent posts dealt with autonomy and mastery as motivators.  This post is best put into perspective after reading those posts.)

“The sense of paralysis proceeds not so much out of the mammoth size of the problem but out of the puniness of the purpose.”

-Norman Cousins

I have been writing this series for six days straight now.  With each part I write I become more convinced of the validity of the original research the series was built upon.  Every day I see specific examples of how autonomy or mastery inspires people.  Each one of those days I have also had misgivings about writing this post.  The concept of purpose is so immense and so powerful that summing it up in a thousand words of less seems a bit overwhelming.  I have outlined and re-outlined this post numerous times.  To conclude this series I will show how managers can create a sense of purpose for their staffs.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

 

What Motivates Servers: Mastery

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(Note: This is part five of an ongoing series regarding what does and does not motivate servers.  It is based on research provided in part one.  I highly recommend visiting that post to gain proper perspective on this one. The second part dealt with how money fails to motivate servers.  The third part showed how lack of money destroys motivation.  Part four addressed autonomy as the first motivator.  Tomorrow, I will wrap it up by discussing the final motivator, purpose.)

I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July.   One of the benefits of being in the business as long as I have is getting invited to the best cookouts.  Nothing like a few chefs putting together a meal.  I live in one of the greatest BBQ cities in the world, but yesterday I had the best ribs this city has ever seen.  Brined and then marinated for days in advance.  These ribs were treated with TLC that would never be possible to replicate in a restaurant.  The Executive Chef at one of the best Italian restaurants in town makes the best ribs in the city.  Moral of the story: you can’t buy the best ribs in town.

More importantly, you can’t pay to have the best ribs in town made.  A chef who cooks for a living and spends as much time cooking as sleeping made his finest meal for free.  Money did not motivate the extra effort.  He decided what he wanted to cook and he was cooking for his friends.  In the lexicon of this series, that translates to “autonomy” and “purpose.”  The interesting part to me is that as we all praised his ribs, he talked about how he would make them better next time.  Even as a professional certified chef, he was thinking of ways to improve.  The term for that is “mastery.”

Mastery for the purposes of this post is not perfection, but constantly striving for improvement.  Serving is not something that can be perfected.  Even the greatest servers in the world are still looking for ways to improve.  This is how they became one of the world’s greatest servers.  The key to mastery is constantly striving to improve.  Servers who recognize this find far more fulfillment, challenge, and reward in the job.  Managers who are able to instill this mindset in their staff are rewarded with highly motivated and productive employees.

Here are some tips on encouraging the pursuit of mastery amongst your staff.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

How Money Motivates

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(Note: this is part three of a series based on research presented in part one.  Yesterday, I addressed why contests and financial incentives do not motivate servers.  If you have not read these posts, I highly recommend doing so in order to fully understand the premise of this post.)

Yesterday, I discussed why contests do not work to motivate servers.  I made the case that servers were not primarily motivated by money.  Like all other employees they are more motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose.  I hope that instilled greater credibility to those who read it that this research is as true for servers as it is for any other profession.  In the original post, this message was highly counterbalanced in the original by a very strong caveat.  This caveat cannot be ignored.

The research did make it very clear that if you do not pay people enough, they will not be motivated.  In no way should the fact that contests do not motivate servers be taken as an indication that servers do not care about money.  Servers care about money.  So do their landlords, credit card companies, student loan agencies, etc.  It goes back to the old adage, “Money can’t buy happiness, but being broke can sure make you miserable.”  The message of the research is that money provides a comfort level to focus on higher motivators.  If the servers are not making the base level of money they need to be comfortable, they cannot focus on the higher motivators that lead to increased performance and personal satisfaction.

When a service staff is not making adequate money, you end up with three types of servers:

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

Why Contests Don’t Work

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(Note: This is the second part of a series I am posting over the holiday weekend.  The first part of this series lays out the basic premises this post and the rest of the series is based on.  In order to full appreciate this series, please read “The Epiphany” where the research behind this post is presented.)

Over the years I have been in countless serving contests.  The manager comes out at lineup and explains that whoever sells the most of the evenings fish special wins a lovely pink women’s size small t-shirt with the phrase “Buy Me a Tequila Rose” across the front.  Immediately visions of sporting this stylish shirt out to the club on my six-foot tall frame to pick up women go through my head.  Nothing says “class” like liquor company promo shirts.  All I have to do is regale my guest with mentions of the finely aged fish special that guests who came in the last three nights did not choose.  Tonight I can tell them that it truly is a limited time offer.  I will leave out that if they don’t buy it the kitchen manager can no longer in good conscience avoid throwing it out.

Fortunately, most of the contests were not as bad as the previously mentioned tale.  Most managers have accepted that cash is “one size fits all” and far more effective in the aforementioned club.  What surprises these managers, and myself in my time as a manager, is how poorly it works as a prize to motivate a staff.  The previous post outlines numerous studies that show cash incentives actually harm performance.  At first glance, this seems to make no sense.  Servers tend to be highly money motivated as a whole.  Yet cash incentives don’t lead to better performance.  Upon further examination though it can be easily explained.

Here are the basic reasons why financial incentives in the form of contests fail to motivate servers:

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

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