Lookin' Good at 58

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Good Idea Passed On To Me

Saturday night was humming as we did over 600 people with a two hour wait. Friday was not so bad either so the weekends are at least looking up. The gift cards are driving the traffic. On Saturday I had $623 in gift cards out of my $1232 sales so you can see where we are going here. Lots of people with just the average tips , nothing outstanding , but in any case did make some good money over the weekend when you add up all the covers I did.

The second table I had seated was a couple with a boy probably 7-8 years old. When I greeted them they mentioned that it seems like everytime they come in I am their server. Then they added , yes and we are real happy that you are our server. I thanked them and jokingly said now the pressure is really on me meaning of course I had to carry on the tradition. I did once again giving them outstanding service.

A few tables later two couples sat down and had an enjoyable meal. Toward the end the guy with the birthday points to the next section and said I had served a bunch of them the last time they were there. I kind of did a second look and nodded oh yeah I remember now your party. Anyway the guy ended with the fact they always have a great meal when they come but when I serve them the service is above average compared to others that I work alongside with. It is top notch.

So I took aside an experienced waiter and she said to me that I should carry some business cards with me and each time someone compliments me to give them a card. Then explain to have them email head office and tell them of their dining experience with me as their waiter.

You know I might just do that. Let's face it , the head office or your boss will always get wind of the complaint but few will ever hear of any good news. Since you deserve the credit for the good things that happen make sure you get it by asking people to notify head office. Give them your name of course or someone else may decide to take away your thunder.

Make sure your name goes high up in management circles. Who knows you may be in line for the next promotion.

25 comments:

purplegirl said...

Sounds like a good weekend, it's always nice to get compliments!

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Purplegirl...it is for sure.

Waitersfriend said...

Not a bad idea! Good job on the comments - two in one night is rare!

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Waitersfriend...thanks and two in one night was pretty awesome.

LW said...

I don't work for a corporate place, but I do tell people to let my manager know when they enjoy my service. It can really make a difference when you do get that rare complaint.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

LW...you're smart for doing that. No doubt you have the backup too from your employer when you do get that rare complaint. Except in a corporate spot I am not too sure it would matter. In other words no back up.

Laine and Alex said...

Business cards are a great idea. There is a nordstroms cafe close to my office where I dine fairly regularly. They put a business card on the tip tray with every meal. I take it as a signature of pride in a job well done. Another point. Good service skills translate to many industries.Don't be surprised if you get recruited a time or two.Laine

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Laine and Alex...good points and as to recruitment you never know.

Manuel said...

600 people? on a Saturday night....good grief....we do 120 tops on a Saturday....and that's a freaking nightmare at that....!

J. Kelly said...

I enjoy reading your blog and a few other food-service blogs. We all know that for the most part people would rather complain than offer praise. Another way I express this idea is that people enjoy admiring the problem sometimes. Anyhow, I congratulate you for receiving praise for your skills. I would like to offer that when I am dining and see a table with children (I would say anything younger than pre-teen) who are exceptionally well-behaved, I will walk over to the table, introduce myself, and commend the parents AND the children for their good behavior. The kids always give me that look as if to say, "Thanks, mister, we're probably going to get to order dessert now." It makes us all feel good.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

J. Kelly...welcome and thank you for commenting.I always mention to the table if the kids are well behaved. Makes a difference to see that you noticed and the parents feel all good because of it.

teleburst said...

Yes, we are offered business cards where I work (after 3 months on the job). I have them. However, they usually sit in my locker because I don't really have a way to carry them around. I should get one of those metal business card holders but I already have so much to keep track of. I usually just go back and grab one when I want the guest to really know who I am (but I don't do it as often as I'd like). I don't want to give them out indiscriminately. I remember once, I gave my card to someone who was effusive in their praise. I wish I hadn't when I got their 12% tip. I wish I had broken into Fred's locker and given them one of his.

When I do give a card, I always hand it to them. I've found that just putting it in the check presenter often times finds me recycling the card because they didn't bother to take it. Besides, business cards are for handing to someone anyway.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Manuel...yes but I think yours' is fine dining..We have two hour waits going on at our place.In and out.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Teleburst...I am toying with the idea of using business cards but then I am not so sure if one complaint came in all the good comments would matter.

teleburst said...

Well, the idea of business cards isn't about complaints vs. compliments. It's about people having your name in their wallets and being able to remember you when it comes time to make a reservation. It's about making a more professional connection with someone that you have provided a service for and wish to continue a professional relationship with. Plus, it sets you apart from 99% of all servers.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Teleburst...I have never been big on people requesting me. When tips are pooled anyway or I work where I do now where a reservation can literally screw up your section by leaving it empty until they come in so it ends up costing me money that is not for me. I want to flip and turn where I am. Not gab or cater to someone who is just going to leave an average tip at the end.

teleburst said...

Then you shouldn't even consider business cards at all, even if you think it's going to help you get email comments to corporate. Since you don't want personal repeat business, business cards would be counter-productive.

You should simply mention something like, "I'm glad you liked my service. I know that our home office would love to hear some positive comments about the restaurant. Feel free to visit our website blah blah blah..."

If you give out a business card with your name on it, you're likely to get asked for next time and you don't want that. Alternately, you could get some cards printed up with just the email and corporate address and hand them out along with a prompt to send their comments along.

teleburst said...

One other thing worth thinking about is that the downside of waiting on call parties in terms of possibly losing a turn is the advantage of ease of service after you've waited on someone more than a couple of times. You know how they want to be served, they aren't likely to complain and they're generally more generous, plus, it's just pleasant to wait on people who appreciate your service even before they walk in. It's like a bird in the hand sort of thing. A couple of call parties can bail you out of an otherwise tough shift.

We have a waiter who waits almost exclusively on call parties and he makes a ton of money (more than anyone else). When the restaurant is slow, he's guaranteed almost a full section. He doesn't like to wait on private parties (pooled tips and tipout to the house meaning that each server only makes about 55% of the tip) and he usually doesn't have to because he's got call parties. He's got people that he waits almost on every single weekend. That's $50 - $100 for each regular guaranteed, even when it's dead. He rarely takes home less than $200 and usually pulls in $300+. He's all in when it comes to call parties.

Me? I just like to get the occasional call party. It's nice to be wanted and waiting on them goes so much smoother because I don't have to start at ground zero every time.

Just another viewpoint.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Teleburst..never worked in a place where someone does exclusively call parties. Just wouldn't want to do it either. It is just not fair.

teleburst said...

It has nothing to do with fair or unfair. He literally has that many call parties. What are you going to do - tell a guest that they can't have their waiter of choice? He doesn't exclusively do call parties but he has so many of them that it almost ends up that way.

Our restaurant has an abnormally high number of regulars to begin with. I believe that our return rate is between 40 - 45% which is double the industry average. So we are geared toward dealing with people that we know (there are dozens of guests who dine with us 3or more times a week between lunch and dinner). And with our new computerized on-line reservation system, it's that much easier to request a specific server.

I'll guarantee you that he has no complaints with waiting on mostly call parties and none of us have any reason to complain about someone who can garner that amount of loyalty. That's what we all shoot for - as many call parties as possible. That is normally the goal of any server, right? After all, call parties tip better and are easier to wait on. And sometimes they even become friends.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Teleburst..okay okay relax if there is enough to go around that is super. The restaurant I work in doesn't even take reservations on Friday and Saturday.We did over 1500 covers Friday Saturday and Sunday.I don't care to have a request just that my station is full cause that is where I make the money. People are in and out in a little over an hour in my puny 10 seat section. If some people ever do request me which very few do usually the table remains empty till they come in. That could be up to an hour later. Money lost. I might flip that 4 table section over 3 to 4 times before I am cut for the night after 4-5 hours. Your restaurant and mine are day and night. I'm just sayin...

teleburst said...

Oh, I AM relaxed .

Our restaurants are obviously different. We only did 750 covers last weekend.

I walked with $260 after tipout on Saturday and that's after having to pool a 20 top that had to be put on the floor because the private rooms were booked (so that meant that our tipout was about 45%because money goes to the house as part of the tipout on private parties). The two of us had a full turn between 5 and 7pm and that helped. And we were home by 10pm.

But you missed my point - we don't need call parties to make sure our sections are filled. My co-worker always has a full section *despite* the fact that he has all call parties. The thing is, he's got sure things - he doesn't have to rely on chance. He knows that when his two Saturday regulars come in, he's got $200 on those two tables alone.

Plus, if business is slow for everyone else, his regulars are still going to come in. That's how he can pull $55k - $60k a year year after year (in my best year, I made $42k). He rarely has a slow night even when the restaurant is slow. And he barely has to think about service because it's almost automatic.

I can see how call parties could gum up the works in a churn and burn restaurant. However, good mgt can prevent that from happening because they'll seat a call party's table first thing so that the server can get a turn before they come in (unless the party is at 6pm - and then, well, we normally don't really get rolling full speed until then anyway, so a turn isn't really lost because the section isn't likely to be full until 6 anyway). That's how they do it in our restaurant.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Teleburst..every restaurant is different...

teleburst said...

I'm simply saying, don't get business cards if you don't want call parties, because they will guarantee that you get them. In your restaurant, in my restaurant. In just about any restaurant. That's pretty much the sole purpose of a server printing business cards. Alternately, you could get business cards printed with the name of the fellow server you like the least, I suppose.

I'll admit that you're the first waiter I've talked to in my years of waiting tables that actively avoids call parties. Hence my amazement. But whatever works for your situation and your temperament, I suppose.

Heck, when I was waiting on 50 guests during dinner shifts, I liked to get call parties. I guess it validated me and my service in a way (especially in such a mass market churn and burn place where most everyone is anonymous). Plus, it was always nice to see a friendly face in a sea of unknowns.

Turns out, I see a few of them in my current restaurant, not that they followed me or anything. I see people that I've waited on in three consecutive restaurants now. Ironically though, at least two of them are others call parties because, while I was waiting on them at the other restaurant, they were already regulars in my current restaurant.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Teleburst...I love the unknown.But if you knew my background that wouldn't surprise you.I like to see what is around the corner and find a surprise.I like unpredictability.It makes life for me exciting. People whom I serve where I am who I have served elsewhere well it is more of a pleasant surprise to see them again than expect their arrival. But then that is me so need to elaborate. Time to talk about other things.