Lookin' Good at 58

Sunday, February 19, 2017

I Think It's Time to Start Another Book

Lately I have been pondering the idea of writing another book. My first book was all about my travels upon taking a bar tending course. Some people have asked me when the second part is coming out but I do not think I will write a follow up to it as after I got married there were a lot of things that I did that are bit of a blur.

The next book may incorporate some things I learned during this time but to do it in chronological fashion would be difficult because a lot that went on job wise did not last that long. So to remember it all would be too confusing for me to recap.

I may just write a book on what I have learned from my experiences. I have had the opportunity to observe how people act under different circumstances from a sale's person and waiter's perspective. Each chapter would be on a different topic.

Basically a book on human behavior. Psychology has always interested me so along those lines.

In other words when someone says something what do they really mean? Using examples of guests that I have served in the past and people I have met.

Could be interesting...

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Difference Between a Waiter and a Manager

In Canada it seems like if you are a manager you have always worked longer hours than a waiter and if you were to take the wages of both on a weekly basis we will probably find that on an hourly dollar average for sure a waiter makes more money.

Now back in the day as I mentioned on a previous post when a waiter worked full time at 40 hours a week that would amount to a lot of money when you add in all the tips you would make. But nowadays most restaurants will only hire part time meaning that a pay check for a waiter might only add up to 40 hours every two weeks making it harder to earn a living at just one job. So you have many waiters working at a full time job during the week and moonlighting at a waiter job part time at night.

Unlike a full time waiter 30 years ago where being a waiter was a full time profession a part time waiter nowadays only waits on tables for some extra cash and many enjoy the social benefits that go with it. A lot just spend the tips and socialize heavily after work either eating or drinking their tips away. Live for today and besides they have their real job during the day. Most waiters today are single unlike many years ago when you saw more married. This is simply because the way the system is set up now what married person who has a family to support would want a job that is 20 hours a week and up and down as far as income is concerned. That meaning busy vs. slow times.

Now a manager who works more hours who might might start at a lower take home pay than a waiter is thinking more long term. This person knows that once he/she gets into management that there is a ladder upward and is looking at the Hospitality Industry as a profession and that in a few years not only will they be making more as a general manager for example or hotel director they will also have the benefit package such as medical, dental, vision that for a family is a big bonus. Did I say most of the managers out there are past the party stage and probably in long term relationships. Not all married mind you but settled. They tend to go home after work to another life whereas the waiter's social life revolves around work because everyone they know works when they do not and is off when they are working. Thus the reason usually a waiter will meet and go out with someone at work.

What I am saying is because the industry has changed so much it might be better now to head straight into management. Pretty soon there is a chance the waiter may just be replaced by technology anyway. At airports now some restaurants you just order your meal off an IPad then someone brings it out to you when it is ready. Hardly work enough for anyone to leave a tip.

So by golly if you are looking for a career in an industry that is booming take a degree in hotel / food and beverage management. Wait a bit on tables and tend bar but as soon as you can get into a hotel or casual fine dining establishment and move through their management training program because the opportunities are limitless. Work anywhere you want. Live in a warm climate, skip the winter etc..

Work on cruise ships like I did. I wrote about it in my book.

A waiter is short term and there only a short time because who can live on 20 hours a week? A manager is there long term and securing his future with good pay and benefits. That is the difference.

After spending a long time in the industry if I was starting out at 20 years old again in today's environment I would get in with a big company and move up quickly. There are no ( I know of one) jobs that you work full time hours anymore as a waiter or bar tender.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Something That Drives Me Crazy

One thing I don't get about people is their total lack of patience.

The thing that gets me the most is when you are clearing the table of their main course and they ask if we have a dessert menu.

I always reply back yes we do but I first want to clear your table before I give you a dessert menu.

You know one time I am just going to come out and say it. No we do not have a dessert menu and see what they say. Tell them that unlike many restaurants we only serve a meal up to the main course and if you want a dessert well you came to the wrong restaurant.

Diners please let us clear your table first and you will get your dessert menu I promise.

Another thing that happened just last night actually was I had this table of two and I said I would be right back with water. The lady mentioned she wanted some water to which I replied again I will be right back with the water. Her husband then mentioned that he would like some water as well.

What did he think I was going to do bring water just to his wife and not him? Why would he think I was only going to bring her water after I mentioned I will be right back with water? I felt like saying don't worry I will not forget you..

Anyway I will be back with a more interesting topic tomorrow. It is just these two things stood out for me last night during service.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Compliment That I Got Was a Strange One

As some of you know I had some health issues during January. So I was happy just to be back at work. Well on Saturday I was working and serving this couple celebrating their 40th anniversary.

I think I heard him say he was 64 years old and I just had my birthday and turned 58. I work with a lot of younger people more than half my age. I look my age or maybe a couple of years younger.

He asks me if I go to university here in Guelph ( a university town ). I said to him well thanks for the compliment. Then he continues on saying it seems like every time he comes here to eat he is being served by a university student and wondered if I was going as well.

I thought he was joking at first but he was dead serious. I couldn't believe it!

I wonder what he would think if I dyed my hair black?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Two Things That Have Changed Since the 70's in the Restaurant Industry

Back when I started in 1979 two big differences have taken place.

The first one is back then there were full time waiting and bar tending jobs available. It was viewed as a full time job and not part time like it is now. I worked in a hotel for 44 hours a week as a bartender. Now there are hardly any hotels that have a dining room anymore, and if they do have one, because of the choices of where people can eat they usually are not that busy. Casual fine dining spots back then were not on the top of any one's mind as a place to eat because there were not that many around.

At best nowadays all a hotel or motel will offer is a continental breakfast where you help yourself and there is one attendant there to make sure the coffee stays hot and the croissants are replenished. In fact due to a lot of cut backs with regards to business expenses a motel will often situate itself beside a restaurant chain store so their guests can eat there.

Part time is big today because to survive people need two jobs. Work during the day at one and wait on tables at night. All the work out there is part time.

The second one is when I started there were hardly any women bar tending or waiting on tables. It might seem unbelievable to think of now but back then it was all male waiters and bartenders. Usually Europeans bringing their craft over here. Not a lot of Canadians worked fine dining either. I cannot remember in fact working with many of my country men.

Now you see more women than men working waiting on tables or behind the bar. Why is that? I think one reason is the Europeans all retired and no one followed up behind them. There was no one who wanted to do fine dining. Thus as I mentioned in my last post that fine dining is on it's way out. Not that no one likes fine dining but the difficulty is finding good staff to perform the job tasks.

With the casual fine dining restaurants taking over the helm it is more about systems than knowledge. This is so people with hardly any waiting or bar tending experience with some training can do the job. McDonalds is a bad example but their employees say, "would you like fries with that" as part of their training. The individuality is lost where it used to be abundant.

However I digress from my second change. Women have a much nicer personality. They are earning a good income that may be a good second income or primary income in the family. Men back when I started were a lot more confident than they are now. Their role used to be clearly defined in the household. Now not so much.

I could go on but those are just two of the things I see that has changed over the years. Part time as opposed to full time and more women have taken the lead working in the industry.

My next post will be on why everyone seems to be single who work in restaurants.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Highs Are Not as High and the Lows Seem to Get Lower

It seems to be each year that passes the higher end restaurant you work in the more it is becoming just a special occasion restaurant while the lower end restaurant is taking over being the place that people go out to the most often.

Let me explain. Twenty five years ago people use to go out and eat more in very expensive restaurants than the least expensive restaurants because back then only the people with money use to go out and eat. They had their 2 martini lunches and entertained clients trying to make that big deal and in the evening would gather together in the fancy dining rooms of hotels and order an expensive bottle of wine with their expensive meal. In other words you had to have money to go out.

Move ahead to today. Now it is not just the people with money who eat out but everyone does. Families now go out and bring their babies with them. Restaurants are abound to fit any pocket book. The low end restaurants are very busy more so than the high end restaurants because nowadays people eat out so often they cannot afford to eat in expensive restaurants. Unlike twenty five years ago there are Swiss Chalets, Harveys, Crabby Joes to name just a few that cater to the diner who cannot afford expensive bottles of wine.

What this means is that diners only will go out and spend a lot of money on a meal only if it is a special occasion. So the high end restaurants when it is slow like this week it is very slow and next week being Valentine's Day will be very busy. Then it will be slow again.

Meanwhile even if the low end restaurants are slow they still get the volume because most people like the fast food affordable low cost dining. Mostly because they do not have the time or patience to cook.

So there you have it and just like the Dollarama stores who now have shares in the triple digits and are taking over from the clothing and grocery stores soon the most popular restaurants will be the ones like Subway and Freshii where one can go in and order something nutritious for less than ten dollars.

It is a fact except in places like Las Vegas where people spend money in most places high end fine dining will become a dinosaur. It is a also a fact that people will eat out more and more and as their buying power dwindles they will have to eat in less expensive outlets.

Here is another fact I read and that was most millennial would rather hold off having kids or have none at all because they thought it was too expensive. Well perhaps if they got rid of their cell phone bill each month and cooked once in a while they would not find it so expensive.

I guess it just depends on one's perspective. What are our priorities? I myself prefer to eat out only once in a while that way it seems to be more of an event than a habit.

So being a waiter is getting to be a tough gig. Always saving for a rainy day. Make money today but put some away because the next day or week you never know. Perhaps as well because people eat out so much and can barely afford it they tip less in general. Ah, but that can be another post....

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

A New Beginning

After a pretty bad January with all my health issues today marks a beginning of a new year for me. I turn 58 today. Pretty amazing when I think about it.

This year I am looking to get my health issue fixed up and begin thinking about the next few years.

I feel that I need to make a change. For the first time in a while I cannot see myself doing this waiter thing for much longer. There is no real challenge for me anymore. I have been doing this for so long now and now I am starting to think is this it? Is this how I am going to finish my working days as a waiter.

Maybe I should start thinking long term rather than short term. Long term for me is 7-9 years.

Last year we sold the house. We downsized our expenses and improved our living standards. My traveling days are over unless it is somewhere warm or visiting friends and family.

I would like to make a trip to Europe within the next couple of years. I would like a job where I am using my head rather than a physical job such as waiting on tables. It might mean a departure from the hospitality industry.

I often say to my kids find a profession where you use your head and not your body. Your body doesn't last forever like it was during your youth but your mind can  keep getting better.

So we will see what happens. Whatever changes occur I am looking forward to it.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Wine Feature and Benefit Sales

Next week I should be heading back to work all rested up and with some fat on my body.

There is a new wine feature going on since I have been away so everyone has a head start by a couple of weeks before I get started on it.

The last sales contest despite the fact I was away most of the last two weeks of it ended up with me running away with it. I had about $1437 in sales while the second and third place runners up had $760 and $700 respectively.

It was my second win in a row this time winning an overnight stay at the winery. Hopefully the time I have to use this prize is in the future and not something I missed already due to my illness.

One of the big things I learned when I used to do sales is learning to keep your mouth shut. I use to do a lot of door to door sales and what I learned is people buy with emotion. Sometimes you have to outline the feature and benefits.

For example when you say what feature the wine has such as nice tannins it really means nothing until you say it will go good with your steak you will be eating. The tannins are the feature and how good it will go with your steak is a benefit. The emotional part is how tasty that would go with your steak.

Or let's say you are trying to sell a more expensive bottle of wine. You may say something like rather than order that bottle of wine for just a couple of dollars more per person you can have this higher quality bottle of wine that not only will be a better match for your meal but will give you an opportunity to try a wine that is really outstanding value. The feature would be for a few dollars more for a higher quality bottle of wine and the benefit (emotion ) would be outstanding value and better match for you meal.

Just remember when you give the features and benefits ask if they would like a glass or bottle whatever it is you are selling. Then wait for the answer.

Remember once you ask you have to shut up and wait for the answer. You may get no which is common. Or you may get give us some time to think about it which you leave and let them think about it. Or it's a yes.

But never interrupt their thinking when you ask cause the first one to talk loses in sales. If you talk first they are off the hook and you never get the sale.

So there you go my blah blah on wine sales at the table.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Thankful for Canadian Health Care System

As you may know already I have had some health issues this past month (see previous posts). All I can say is I am thankful to be living in Canada rather than let's say the United States.

Why is that well I will tell you. In the past month I have had 3 visits to emergency at the hospital. I have a trip to the doctor referred to me by the hospital and another trip this coming Friday. Yesterday I had a bone marrow biopsy scheduled exactly one week after the need came up that I should have one.

I know still there will be more trips to the doctor and blood test to go along with it and probably some treatments thereafter.

Upon coming home yesterday I stopped for a second to ponder how much this would have all cost me if I lived somewhere and there was no health coverage. Probably 5-10 thousand dollars minimum with the operation and all the visits. That might even be a low figure.

So how much did it cost me? Zero dollars! All I had to do was show my health card.

That was it. Yet there are others who think our health care system is a joke. Those others have no health care system or if they do they want to do away with it.

In the past I have had the opportunity to move to the U.S. and each time when I thought about it a second time I had to say no because I did not see the social safety net available should anything go wrong and I got sick and lost income at the same time. Especially in the restaurant industry.

It would not only be a financial burden on my family but on their health as well. In the past few years my son had to go to Sick Kids twice. He almost died. My wife has had a hysterectomy and other things that required medical attention. If we had to pay for all this how would we get ahead? Loss of income, medical bills, swimming in debt. Not a pretty picture it would have been.

So summing up I just want to thank the Canadian Health Care System. It may not be perfect but compared to other countries it does pretty good.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Book is Out - New Cover and New Title!

Now available on Amazon , Barnes and Noble, Kindle and Nook. Also you can get this book wholesale at Friesen Press.

If you ever thought about taking a bartending course and wondering where it could lead you then you should buy this book. If you are young with very little education coming out of the gate and are looking for a career then you should buy this book. If you like to travel this book is for you. If you want to meet girls or boys then this book is for you. Tired of working for the weekend how about letting the weekends work for you.

Have fun, make some money, travel the choice is yours. Take a sneak preview and check it out.

Just click here so you can read the preview on Amazon.

My home page on Friesen Press you can click here for more personal information.

I worked in dining rooms like this one. Great memories!