A Jardines Update

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Some local blogs have criticized my coverage of the closing of Jardines Kansas City.  I will make no apologies about standing on the side of the servers and against this owner.  I try not to take sides in situations like that.  I do not speak out against owners of restaurants.  You will not find me critical of another local owner on this blog.  I have been asked to intervene in the past and refused.  This particular case was so egregious that I felt it necessary to provide a forum for the affected servers’ stories to be told.

If there were any doubts that this owner was fully in the wrong, I think they have all been resolved.  It is no longer just the employees of the restaurant who are seeking to receive the tips that patrons left for them.  Tips that the patrons would have been outraged to know were not being relinquished to the employees.  Tonight, I have just received word that the situation was far worse.  Last month, tour Jazz artist and major draw Dave Stephens played at Jardines.  A substantial cover charge was taken at the door and collected by the club.  Mr Stephens was cut a check by the owner, but it turns out she has stopped payment on the check according to this post on Mr Stephen’s facebook page:

Jardines Kansas City

There are two sides to this story.  One side has an owner claiming that her entire staff was stealing from her and therefore she fired them all.  She refuses to go on the record to say this, but has instead leaked it to local media sources.  The other side is being quite reserved in their public accusations and simply asking for the tips that are owed them.  I think this recent development should weigh heavily on which side you believe.

If you missed my original post on this topic, please read The Jardines Story

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

 

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

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

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

Weird Restaurant Stories 11/6

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This week I ran across an article of particular relevance to this series.  Most of the regular readers know that each week I give an award to the restaurant hero of the week named after Chef Jonathan Justus.  I guess the bad review he received on yelp did not hurt him too much.  His restaurant was recently named the best restaurant in Kansas City by the new Zagat survey.  Congratulations to Justus Drugstore.  What makes it noteworthy in this series is that the byline on the story is the namesake of the restaurant jerk award, Charles Ferruzza.  Worlds are colliding.  With that lets turn to the real news stories of the week.

Read the full post at Restaurant Laughs

Server Safety Tips

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This is not the time to start thinking about server safety

When I started my first job in Management year ago, a fellow manager told me this story on my first night.  He had managed a restaurant a few years earlier with his best friend.  He asked his best friend to close for him on a Saturday night so he could go on a hot date.  Sunday morning he returned to the restaurant to find the alarm not set.  He didn’t think much of it until he saw the floor was filthy outside the walk in cooler.  He opened the door to find his best friend dead inside.

I’ve never forgotten that story because it underlies one of the most frightening facts that not even everyone in the business knows.  Restaurants and their employees are very frequently the targets of violent robberies.  In the book Fast Food Nation they even go so far as to point out that a restaurant manager is more likely to be killed on the job than a police officer.  Every week I write the “weird restaurant stories” column and exclude most of the robbery stories.  This has caused me to be painfully aware of how large a problem this is for the industry.

What is far less often reported is crimes against servers.  Over the years I have known several servers of were mugged leaving work.  This happens far more often than is reported or talked about.  With the holidays approaching this is a far greater issue.  We all need to rethink our processes for leaving the restaurant with cash in our pockets to avoid any would be thieves.

Here are a few personal security tips for the holidays.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

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