Calling All Experts

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Care to step up to the podium?

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

-Stephen Hawking

We all know “that guy.”  He (or she) is the one that would lead you to believe he is an expert on everything, even when they are bluffing.  “That guy” has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of answers even if they have only wikipedic accuracy.  “That guy” seldom has as much information as they claim.  As a blogger, I try very hard not to be “that guy.”

There are any number of topics that I have not even come close to addressing on this blog that I would really like to see covered.  My problem is that I am aware of who comprises my audience.  It would be presumptuous, if not absurd, of me to write about wines knowing that there are a couple vintners and a handful of sommeliers that read this blog.  I have been a bartender, but some of the best bartenders in town read this blog.  I would never be presumptive enough to tell them how to do their job better.

For a while now I have been trying to come up with a way to get more people involved in this blog.  Today, I am asking if anyone out there would like to become a contributor.  I can’t pay you (which means you will make as much as I do), but I can offer all the fame and glory writing for this blog might bring.  I can give you a great title like, “resident wine expert at http://www.tipsfortips.com” which would look good on a resume.  More importantly you can share your thoughts with the world without having to maintain your own blog.  All credit will be given and I will gladly link to most anything you would like to provide publicity for.

Before you start having doubts, let me offer some reassurances.  You do not have to be the world’s foremost authority on your topic.  There is no commitment.  When you feel like writing, write.  Send it to me and I will work it into the schedule for the week.  I won’t impose deadlines or hassle you.  This is just your opportunity to share what you choose with the world.

There are several topics that I would love to find someone to write about.  They include:

Winemaking

Wine Varietals (common or lesser known)

Sushi

Cocktailing

Bartending

Liquors

Any Type of Ethnic Cuisine

Farming

Bottle Service

Restaurant Ownership

Marketing

This is in no way a complete list.  If you have something you want to write about, let me know.  Send me your idea for a topic or what area you would like to be an expert in to hospitalityformula@gmail.com .  I will review your ideas and get back with you shortly.  No suggestion is too strange and all will receive consideration.

This does not mean that I am ready to stop writing myself.  It is quite the opposite.  I have some projects related to this blog that I have really needed to dedicate some time to.  One guest column a week will free up some time to work on these projects.  A couple guest columns and I can turn this into the seven-day a week blog that I have hoped it would become.  If you have any other ideas for topics you would like to see addressed on this blog, leave them in the comments.  Maybe we can find the expert for your idea.

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

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

Wine Descriptions That Sell

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I was recently having a conversation with a group of co-workers including one who I had trained the week before.  The topic of Mezcal came up.  I gave up drinking years ago and well before the current Mezcal craze hit the Midwest.  The new server, with an impressive bartending resume, began to describe it to me.  He discussed the “minerality” of it.  He noted the hints of leather and iodine it contained.  As a former Scotch fan I knew what he meant, but was not the least bit tempted to try some.

As servers we are tasked with not only being able to describe food and wine, but also describe it in a way that is appetizing.  Too often servers will fall in to the trap of letting their knowledge and jargon get in the way of describing wine in a way that guests can relate too.  As a server, you should never let your expertise overwhelm your ability to describe wine in a way the guest can understand.  While you should never be condescending to your guests, you should start with a very basic description and give more details as requested.  If you start with the technical, you run a huge risk of turning off the guest or sounding condescending when following up with a more simplistic description.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Selling Away and Selling Up

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Great restaurants are often built around one or two signature entrees.  These meals get people talking to their friends and coming back again the next week.  Every menu has a few dishes that stand out from the rest.  Conversely, every menu has items that are not as well received.  Knowing how to steer your guests away from meals that will disappoint them and towards your best offering will lead to happier guests, larger checks, and more money in your pocket.

This blog will deal heavily with how to sell those signature items.  This post is about your backup strategy.  You should be recommending to tables the items that will make them most happy.  If they fail to take your advice and order something that you feel certain they will not like, it is you obligation to provide a word of caution.  How you do this is incredibly important.  Most servers will just take the order to avoid offending the guest.  Approached properly you can help guests avoid ordering mistakes while improving their perception of you.

Here are the steps to carefully move guests from sub par dishes to your specialties:

Read the full post at Tips for Improving Your Tips

Five Great Food Stories

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Who doesn’t love a great story?  Even before written language, humans shared stories to remember their great moments.  When we are children, our parents read us stories and as adults we read them to our children.  When we are with the people we have known the longest we tell stories of our past and work to create stories for the future.  It is fundamental to human nature to enjoy a good story.

The best stories are those we can pass along.  Over the years I have collected a great number of stories from guests and fellow servers.  They are referred to as stories rather than fact, because they are often oversimplified to the point of being inaccurate.  A great story must be both easy to understand and easy enough for you guest to tell their friends next time they eat out.  Getting too bogged down in details will lose the guest’s attention rather than making them feel smarter.  If your story makes them instantly think, “I can’t wait to tell that story,” you have a great story.

Here a five great stories to try on your guests.

Read the full post at Foodie Knowledge

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