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

 

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

The Economics of Tipping

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A reminder for all of us.

I still occasionally get the guest who will say, “I can buy this wine for half this price at the store.”  Which is true, but it doesn’t come with a staff to serve it and a crew of chefs ready to cook you an incredible meal from a fully stocked kitchen.  I wonder if the same people have ever priced grapes at the grocery store.  If they want to get really serious about cutting out the mark up, that would be an even cheaper place to start.  Better yet, if they buy seeded grapes they could plant the seeds and never have to pay for a bottle of wine again.

Most of you understand the absurdity of this logic.  Those who do not understand have already stopped reading to go buy grapes.  At each step along the process of making the bottle of wine the cost of goods and service, along with a healthy profit margin, are passed along to the next stage.  From grape to cellar, farmers, vintners, bottlers, distributors, and restaurants all add to the price of the bottle in advance.  There is one exception to this rule.  The person who opens the bottle and pours it actually makes that wine less expensive.  At the most basic level, the person who serves the wine pays for part of the bottle for you.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

The Evolution of Free Bread

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Lamberts

Home of the Throwed Rolls

In the far corner of Southeast Missouri is a town called Sikeston.  If you have heard of Sikeston, MO it is probably because of a restaurant called Lambert’s Café.  I’ve eaten at Lambert’s a number of times over the years, but don’t recall what I had.  I always remember the food being good, but nothing amazing.  The menu isn’t what made Lambert’s famous though.  Lambert’s is known around the world as “The Home of the Throwed Rolls.

If you are unfamiliar with Lambert’s, the atmosphere is best conveyed on video.  You almost have to be on guard at all times while eating there because any stray glance could result in a roll being unintentionally thrown at your head.  The rolls aren’t the only thing they give away. Fried potatoes with onions, macaroni with tomatoes, black-eyed peas, fried okra, and sorghum are all handed out free of charge around the dining room.  At first glance it makes no sense to give away so much food.  Yet this small town restaurant is thriving and has spawned three other locations.

In contrast, several years ago an girlfriend at the time worked for O’Charley’s when they released this video on their website.  I immediately declared it the single stupidest marketing move I had ever seen a restaurant make. Why would they spend money to advertise something they are giving away that directly trades off with the things they are trying to sell?  It is at exactly 1:53 in that video where they completely missed the point.  After relaxing with a couple rolls while considering the menu guests face a decision: buy an appetizer or eat more of these delicious free rolls.  Anyone who has ever waited tables can tell you how that decision ends.  At the end of the meal, guests ate too many rolls to buy a dessert, but one more roll sounds good.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

In Defense of Selling as a Server (Part Two)

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You are a salesperson.  I have never met you, but I am confident in that statement.  By way of explanation let me say that Sunday night I had one of the greatest nights of my life.  I saw Michael Franti and Spearhead perform and it was the greatest concert I have ever attended.  I have been to lots of shows, but the energy level at the show and the quality of the music was unexplainable.  If you ever get a chance to see them, you would have to be a fool to pass it up.

That is why I am a salesperson.  When I like something, I want everyone to know about it.  This isn’t a music blog so you might not have clicked the link.  If this was a music blog and you had faith in my ability to tell good music from bad, that recommendation would have been enough.  We all sell the things we like continuously.  We just consider it recommending things to friends rather than sales.

Looking at sales in this light allows you to identify what it truly is.  Selling is using persuasion to help influence the outcome of a decision.  When a guest sits down at your table they have already decided to order food, drinks, or both.  All you are doing when you are selling as a server is helping them decide what to order.  Serving is the greatest sales job ever because everyone buys something.  People almost never come in just to sit down and look at the menu.  They have made the decision to buy when they walk in.  The only question is what they will buy.

Read the full post at Tips for Improving Your Tips

In Defense of Selling as a Server (Part One)

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Search engine results are one of the most amusing parts of writing a blog.  I get to see what people are searching for that lands them on this page.  Almost every day someone lands on this page looking for sales techniques.  Upon closer examination I am seeing a trend of the phrasing of the searches.  “How to get servers to sell” and similar phrasing lead me to believe that a lot of these searches are from managers attempting to get their servers to sell more.

For the sake of managers reading this blog, I will share my first rule of restaurant management.

Read the full post at Tips for Improving Your Tips

The Rules of Serving: Rule Three

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Rule Three: Generic Servers Receive Generic Tips.

We all have seen it before.  The server who walks up to a table and lifelessly repeats the corporate approved script when greeting a table.  They seem as if they are only about three more repetitions from developing a facial tick from irritation.  No inflection or signs of life.  Reading between the lines is not difficult and roughly translates to “what do I have to bring you to get you to leave?”

Then there is the other kind.  They walk up to the table and give you a more enthusiastic greeting than you got on your last birthday.  They ramble on through the generic script punctuating it with adjectives like “awesome” and “incredible.”  They suggest 37 specific drinks to start you off with before looking at the table to see you got your first round at the bar.  As they turn away from the table their posture immediately changes in a way that translates to, “thank goodness that is over.”

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

A Bit of Publicity and the Response

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For those of you who missed it, this blog was written up in the local alternative weekly paper.  If you want to check out the story (or just find a really cheesy waiter pic of me), click here.  I do feel it necessary to point out that I am far more humble than the article and perhaps this whole blog may make me come across.  With that disclaimer, onto the topic at hand.

After I did the interview, I really put a lot of thought into what I would want as the first story on the homepage when it came out.  I wanted something that would appeal to servers and to guests.  I wrote up a manifesto of sorts proposing a truce in the elevating hostilities between servers and guests.  I showed it to some family members and they all thought it was a bit cynical.  They disputed that there was really this unspoken tension between servers and guests.

Read the full post at Tips for Improving Your Tips

Foodie Friday: Beef Made Easy (Part Two)

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I had a dream about cows last night.  I have consumed more information about cows and steaks in the last week than any man really should.  I also consumed some great steaks along the way.  The difficulty in this topic is differentiating the marketing material from the facts.  The line is blurred because a great number of these terms were conceived as marketing tools.  I tried to sort through it all to provide you with a factual background to increase the knowledge you have to share with your tables and avoid the hype at the butcher counter.

This week I tried to tackle one of the most confusing areas for a server and a consumer.  The difference between some of the most popular and pricey breeds of beef is an incredibly complex topic and the basis for much debate even among experts.  The focus this post is the differences between Kobe, American Kobe, Angus, Black Angus, and Certified Angus Beef.  Confused yet?  Hopefully this will help clarify.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

Budgeting for Servers

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No single topic addressed in this blog is more fundamental to being a successful server than budgeting.  This is the cause of a majority of issues servers have and the primary reason so many servers leave the business.  Nothing can make a shift harder than needing to make money.  Anxiety, stress, frustration, and most other negative emotions you feel as a server result from the need to make more money than you feel you are during the shift.  Learning to budget as a server will alleviate stress and allow you to make more money by worrying about your guests and not your money.

The difficulty in budgeting as a server is that you have no idea how much you will make from night to night.  Most jobs have a set wage per hour or week that allows you to anticipate your income and plan accordingly.  Serving does not provide this luxury.  Everything from bad weather to the season finale of a popular TV show can decimate your income for the night.  This makes budgeting based on future income nearly impossible.  I know a number of outstanding experienced professional servers who try to do this by predicting the income of each shift.  It leads to tremendous frustration, as each shift is a success or failure.  Shifts not hitting the mark lead to panic and shifts that exceed it lead to buying a few extra rounds after work.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

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