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.

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

 

Leadership: Self Improvement

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It took far more than 26.2 miles to make it to the finish line

“Good leaders develop through a never-ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience.” -Manual on Military Leadership

Over the last few weeks I have addressed several important facets of leadership.  In these posts I have discussed the power of leadership and how to harness it.  In the conclusion to this series, I want to address the ongoing commitment you must make to yourself to grow as a leader.  No single series of posts or book will turn you into the ideal leader.  In order to continuing to develop as a leader you must maintain a commitment to self-improvement.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

Don’t Be “That Guy” (Part Two)

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The Evil Monkey can spot "that guy" from a mile away

Friday I began a countdown of the top ten things rookies should avoid saying to not be labeled “that guy.”  It is never easy to be a rookie.  It is also not easy to deal with a rookie who always seems to be in your way as a veteran.  These are the mistakes every rookie should make an effort to avoid in order to prolong the patience of the veterans on the staff.  This is a list of very easily dodged potential landmines in a new working environment.

The first items on this list were more related to things “that guy” does to annoy his coworkers.  This section of the list represents the things that are done to offend your coworkers.  Being annoying is significantly more forgivable than being offensive.  The first six items on this list could be considered minor infractions.  The top four features ways to permanently annoy your coworkers.  Any of these violations could result in you being labeled “that guy” forever.

Here are the top four infractions that could make you “that guy.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

Weird Restaurant Stories 12/4

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I will be honest.  Last week’s batch of restaurant stories was pretty lame.  Apparently everyone took a week off of doing really stupid things in restaurants.  No need to worry though because this week people nationwide made up for their restraint last week.  I am willing to go so far as to say that this may be one of the best installments of this series yet.  Enough of me yappin, here is what I mean.

Before we get started, here are a couple of updates on stories featured in previous weeks.  The discrimination lawsuit against McFadden’s that I have been discussing over the last month has been settled out of court.  The General Manager who (allegedly) sent the text, “We don’t want black people we are a white bar!” has been fired. Also Omaha is the newest city to be warning of fake health inspectors.  Has anyone googled, “scam ideas that are more obvious than an email from Nigeria” to see if any information on this pops up?

Now onto this week’s stories.  Chad and Steve wanted to have a nice meal for Steve’s birthday.  Which obviously means ordering snails.  When Steve went to put his fork into a snail it… let me use Steve’s words, “We had no reason to expect that when we put the fork into the escargot, it would explode — literally jump 2 to 3 inches off the plate.”  Apparently snails are capable of jumping, but only after they are dead, cooked in butter, and stabbed with a fork.  Either that or someone needs to explain to Steve what “literally” means.  (San Rafael, CA)

I am an anti-patio guy.  I do not like sitting outside to eat.  I have seen several meals ruined by bird droppings.  I have yet to see one ruined by birds dropping.  Apparently the 50 or so dead birds that fell on this restaurant were a better alternative than a little bird poop.  Might want to rethink the poison game plan here.  (Venice, FL)

I love sticking it to celebrity chefs.  Gordon Ramsey usually gets a pass because I am actually a fan.  It has been a bad week for the Chef as he made the news twice.  First his New York restaurant fails to pay its trash bills.  Then the winner of this year’s Hell’s Kitchen does not actually get to work at the Savoy Hotel in London.  On a related note, Escoffier has stopped spinning in his grave.  (New York, NY)

While Ramsey’s trash might be sitting for a while, others have taken it upon themselves to remove any number of items from restaurants.  These include meat (Labelle, FL) grease (Springfield, MO), and even an industrial dishwasher (Susquehanna Township, PA).  You know cash spends really easily.  Most everyone takes it.  I am not sure that WalMart accepts payment in used fryer grease.  Maybe next time look for some of that green paper lying around.  I don’t think even Kaiser Soze has a fence for this kind of stuff.

An exception to that last rule can be made for the next thief.  I am not sure thief is even the right word.  We wandered into a restaurant with no money and instantly started scaring off patrons.  It was the fourth time in a week this offender had done it.  The frustrated owner did what all owners secretly want to do and fatally shot him.  I am pretty sure they are rethinking their weekly special of “lovely picanic baskets.”  (Tahoe City, CA)

Other restaurants seem to be getting in trouble for their deliveries.  Selling something as “made in house” or “locally sourced” is a great marketing technique.  It also is a great way to save some money on food costs.  This however does not apply to marketing liquor.  This story would have been infinitely cooler if the moonshiner was named Beau, Luke, or Uncle Jesse.  (Sebring, FL)

The title, “Owner of restaurant set on fire believes he’s victim of hate crime” caught my eye.  The fact that someone wrote, “Get out of our country” on the door of his restaurant before it was set on fire leads me to agree.  I think I speak for a vast majority of Americans when I say that “our country” does not believe in arson as a proper expression of backward ass xenophobia and racism.  This restaurateur has only lived in our country for 8 years, but already has a much better idea of what it means to be an American than the redneck who did this.  (Louisville, KY)

For seemingly the hundredth time on this blog I am pointing out that a night manager’s nametag is not some sort of spanish fly for young girls.  I will stop pointing it out as soon as stories like this stop happening.  There were actually a couple stories this week on this topic, but honestly we all know that there are some real dirtbags in the world.  I don’t like reminding everyone each week.  This one made the list because of the last line in the story.  If I gave an award for the most obvious fact to point out in a story, this one would win.  (Grayslake, IL)

Speaking of awards it is time to present the Chef Justus Award for the restaurant hero to Texas Roadhouse.  When one of their managers died they donated 10% of the sales from 23 of their restaurants to a fund for his children.  Doing it at one store is attempting to do the right thing.  Doing it at 23 stores shows a commitment that I think should be an example to other restaurant companies.  My sympathy and condolences go out to Suzanne Scull and her family.  (Royersford, NJ)

The soon to be renamed (assuming the Saratoga Springs PD can get off their butts and catch the guy) award for the restaurant jerk goes to the Leominster, MA Police Department.  They recently busted a robbery suspect by arresting him at a busy restaurant.  They did so with guns drawn which predictably unnerved the patrons.  They also in their words, “assisted Mr. Manuel Ingrassia to the ground (prone position).”  Could that $300 he stole not have warranted arresting him outside the restaurant?  I’m not trying to pick on the police here, but this seems pretty darn lazy to me.  (Leominster, PA)

Time for the scoreboard:

Scoreboard 12/4

It was a strong week for the Mid Atlantic region.  Florida single handledly carried the South Atlantic region into second this week.  At this point the South Atlantic region’s lead seems pretty insurmountable.  It is not over yet, next week I will announce a special Christmas version of weird restaurant stories that will definitely be a game changer.

This week the United States got credit for the follies of Gordon Ramsey.  It is only fair that Justin Bieber return the favor to London.  While the constant facebook postings about “Bieber Fever” from my female friends in their 30s lead me to believe they have forgotten he is a kid, he did a good job of reminding his server.  No matter where in the world you go, teenagers can be a pain to wait on.  While the owner did not fatally shoot him, I am still giving the points to the world.  USA: 8 World: 7.

That is all for this week.  Monday I will be coming back with the final part of the “don’t be that guy” countdown.  I will also be posting rule seven of the rules of serving and the final installment of the leadership series.  For those who cannot get enough of me, I will also be on The Dave Scott Show this Friday to discuss the restaurant business.  I will also be revealing a very important announcement about the future of this blog this week. Need more reason to come back to this blog?  It is one week til my birthday and anyone who visits everyday gets off the hook for buying me a present.  Don’t think I won’t come find you.

Don’t Be “That Guy” (Part One)

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Nobody wants to work with "that guy."

We were all rookies at one time.  We walked in confident the first day at a new restaurant only to end up with a deer-in-the-headlights look by the first rush.  I’ve worked at plenty of restaurants over the years and know the feeling all to well.  I have most certainly been “that guy” as well.  There is something unnerving about being a rookie at a new restaurant.

I have also been the veteran at several restaurants.  I have been around long enough to see countless rookies come through my restaurant and make the same mistakes.  Most of them are incredibly well meaning.  I try to be patient with all of them.  Sometimes I even bother to learn their names after a couple of months.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

The Server’s Court

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This is a place for justice to be dispensed

It was a most magnificent dream.  Perhaps the most magnificent dream not featuring Alyssa Milano that I have ever had.  I snuck back to the private dining room between shifts for a little piece and quiet.  I must have dozed off for a second because I found myself in a judge’s robe behind the bench.  As the defendant approached a catchy little theme song played.  Then a voice came from the sky and I realized what was going on.

“In restaurants around the country rude and obnoxious guests grate on the nerves of servers.  The worst offenders are sent here for justice.  The defendants have all plead guilty and are appearing here for sentencing.  Judge Dave delivers his own brand of justice here on The Server’s Court”

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

The Plaza Lighting Ceremony

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As Thanksgiving approached this year, my girlfriend and I had several discussions about our traditions.  Her traditions included a big meal with turkey and all the fixings.  We made all those foods over the last few days.  We toted them up to my family’s house yesterday and had a great meal.  It wrapped up just in time to head home for my Thanksgiving tradition.

For a majority of the last twenty years my Thanksgiving nights have been spent watching Christmas lights with tens of thousands of friends and neighbors.  Thanksgiving night in Kansas City is when people gather to watch the Country Club Plaza turn into a beautiful, glowing, masterpiece.  With the flip of one switch, the twenty or so square blocks of The Plaza become illuminated.  The countries oldest automobile inspired shopping district becomes even more beautiful.  This tradition has been happening for at least twice as long as I have been alive and is one of the great things about Kansas City.

I will see the lights turn on thirty or so more times before they leave them off in January.  I live and work in the neighborhood.  In a few days it will just be the reason traffic drives me crazy.  I am certain that any number of censored rants will eventually include “those damn lights.”  For one night though it is magical.  Last night I took a camera with me to capture what makes it so magical.  Neither the camera nor my photo skills were strong enough to capture the sense of the moment.  I still thought I would share a little of my tradition with all of you.

(Click on any picture to see it in full size)

For weeks this is what the lights have looked like

Before the lights it is still very pretty

And then they flip the switch

It is very difficult to photograph fireworks

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Come back tomorrow for another installment of weird restaurant stories.  For some daytime pictures of The Plaza, check out my review of the 2010 Plaza Art Fair.  For some great aerial photographs of the lighting ceremony, check out the KCTV5 slideshow.

 

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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