Lookin' Good at 58

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sizing Up The Customer

I am reading this book called "Blink" and what it is about basically is how we within seconds make a decision about something. Then the more we think after that just confuses us until most of the time we realize our initial first impression was correct all along.

For example , at the end of a bartending course like tonight I give a 40 question multiple choice on things I have taught from drink recipes , bar set-up , bar brands , and a few other questions that pertain to the world of mixology. Everyone passes because it is a very easy exam because the real test is when you are making drinks in front of customers in a real life situation.

But what I did notice marking the exams is that the ones who finished first generally got the highest results. The ones who took the longest didn't get so great a score.

You see the questions were very easy and straightforward but if you thought about the answer too long then a whole bunch of other things would pop into your head about what else it could be other than the one correct answer that you thought of first.

Generally in life our first thoughts are always pretty close to correct most of the time. For those of us who are married we didn't have to think long and hard about whether our partner was the right one. We instinctively knew that. We felt the emotion. Same for our profession , I do not find doing anything else as easy as what I am doing now. It seems natural for me to do as I am sure what you do is natural for you. It doesn't mean we cannot do anything else but when we chose what we do for a living it was because we felt good about it. Right away we knew it was for us and we could do well in it. If we had to think about it for a while then maybe right now we would be doing something else.

But sometimes our first thoughts can steer us wrong especially when it comes to meeting a person or people for the very first time because of the programming our minds have been subjected to beforehand. For instance , if a customer walks in and is unshaven and wearing not the best clothes it is easy for myself to think that this customer will not be spending too much money or leaving me such a big tip.

On the other hand this person could leave the best tip of the night. So this is where as a waiter I have to throw my first impressions of anyone right out the window and serve everyone the same way. It would be the same as a car salesman avoiding someone walking into a showroom wearing jeans with holes in them. He would be making a judgement without information.

So as a waiter I try to treat everyone like a VIP , even the 5 year old who is having the kid's meal. It just makes it easier for me to serve. I may joke about a meagre tip sarcastically but who knows that person may not normally leave that much to begin with and I don't follow these people around as they go eating everywhere else to see if they tip differently in other places.

In concluding , I think decisions made in a blink of an eye are useful if you have the information before you and you have some idea of what you are facing. But the person who sits down for the first time in a restaurant , I do not know whether they will be a good or bad table. That is why I do not want to get in the habit of prejudging anyone on a first impression or I am doomed to be miserable and happy at twenty different points during an evening affecting my service overall. I have to be consistent to everyone and every situation in my mind.

If not , that would cheat all the guests of my best attention and myself of the best gratuity possible.

12 comments:

SkippyMom said...

Funny you should use car salesman as an analogy for waiting tables. Because I have done both [waited tables much longer than car sales]but you are absolutely.

You never know. Some of my best tips/best sales were to people that didn't appear to be of means.

Never discount service based on appearance. And that also includes race. I hated my coworkers that would give awful service based on accent, dress, color when I knew they had been in last week and tipped well.

You just never know. Nice post.
[Sometimes I don't know what is more fun - the waitressing stories or the carsales stories for me! :)]

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

SkippyMom...be interested in hearing some of those stories you have. Yes we never know who will tip the most or buy that car in the window , do we?

Christine said...

Sorry but I have to disagree. If people thought more about who they were marrying and didn't go with their first instincts, there would be fewer divorces.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Christine..okay but we cannot predict the future either. People change unfortuately. No one when they get married can accurately predict what will transpire 20 years from now. I think first of all people do too much thinking and get married for the wrong reasons other than love. But I am not a marriage counsellor...

Manuel said...

it's hard not to prejudge tables when you seat them.....but it's always good to note when we get it wrong.....I am constantly surprised when tables I had marked as mugs turn out to be stars.....

¸.•*´)ღ¸.•*´Chris said...

I just try to go in and give that customer my best at every turn. Being behind the bar, some people tip, some don't and that's one of the pitfalls of being a bartender. Some people don't feel they need to tip a bartender in the first place.

Tipping is always an option, never a requirement.

As a side note, my daughter, who is a server in WI, wears a button that says "God knows when you don't tip". She's a snarky little thing:)

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Chris...we just do what we can and that is all we can do. If people want to tip they will and if they don't they won't. I like your daughter's t-shirt though.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Manuel...like those Pirates of the Caribean the other night. Who would have thought? But you gave them the same fine service you would have given another.

Bev Rage said...

I just find it to be much easier to give everyone the same, attentive service. Turning it "on" for what I think will be the "good" tables, then turning it off for the "bad" tables takes a lot of mental and emotional energy. I almost find it more of an effort to give indifferent service because giving good service is so ingrained!

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Bev Rage...welcome and yes I agree. Just give everyone the same good service.

Bev Rage said...

Thanks Waiter EXtraordinaire.... Sorry, before I posted a comment, should have told you how much I am enjoying your blog. The wine seminars are especially great. You really know your stuff!

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Bev Rage...that is excellent. Where exactly is your site? I tried to find it and was not sure.