1. If you would like to improve any situation the best way to start is to take an honest look at the role you play in that situation. As a server you play a central role in every guest’s experience, you personify the establishment. If you are messy the restaurant is messy. If you are unfriendly so is your restaurant. If the food doesn’t meet their expectations your tips suffer.
2. On the other hand, if you are clean, friendly, knowledgeable and timely you will reap the benefits your team’s efforts. It is of the utmost importance that you take personal responsibility for all of the factors you symbolize, because you suffer and enjoy their consequences directly through the money you earn.
3. Outline: There are 4 fundamentals that will help you maximize your serving experience: the right attitude, knowledge, habits, and an eagerness to evolve. You want to approach every table with the attitude that they will have the best dining experience they’ve ever had—because of YOU. Know your menu, company policies and procedures, and what it takes to be an amazing server. Apply what you know through following steps of service, VIP procedures, etc. The twin goals of consciously developing best habits are to maximize efficiency and effectiveness—in other words to make the most money with as little effort as possible. No matter how well anybody performs we all have room for improvement and we best know our strength’s and weaknesses. To maximize your income as a server you have to be honest with yourself and continually reevaluate and adapt your strategy. With these pillars as your serving foundation you will continue to make more money.
i. You have to want it, be willing to work for it and follow through. You have to take initiative. Your managers are working their asses off staying into the early mornings doing inventory and payroll, costing, invoicing, etc. trying to keep the restaurant running. They don’t have time to think of everything and make sure you follow through afterwards. To be successful you have to take initiative and create the atmosphere conducive to the experience you hope to replicate time and time again. Whether it is keeping the restaurant clean, knowing your specials and how to sell them or mastering your POS to make modifications correctly and quickly you are responsible for yourself and the experience your guests have.
i. How you set goals will greatly effect your performance. It is easy during training to focus on out-competing other trainees, or assuring management that you get it by faking it or guessing. This will only hurt you in the long run—and you probably aren’t as convincing as you might think.
1. The best approach is to expect mistakes as a part of the learning process. Nurture them and use them as a vivid motivational foundation for learning the right way to do things. When I train I always start with something like this:
2. “Today I’m going to tell you way more then you can absorb. The idea is to make you familiar with the menu and procedures, that way when you study them later they will stick easier. I encourage you to ask any and all questions you have. Don’t feel afraid to ask any question more than once. Your training officially lasts for the next few shifts, but really it will continue for the next month or so, so please feel free to ask me anything you aren’t sure about. How you perform as a trainee isn’t important, what matters is how you perform when you’re on your own.”
3. I always inform my trainees of procedures beforehand, but let them make their own mistakes. When we make our own mistakes it adds tangibility to their consequences, the earlier we do that the more likely we are to build good habits. Avoid paternalist practices that protect coworkers from the consequences of their actions. Frequently people make it through training and think they’re an expert or that they don’t have to prove themselves anymore, this attitude is extremely limiting and never has beneficial results.
1. In the restaurant respect is paramount. Respect, in this respect, refers to a willingness to show consideration or appreciation. You MUST treat everyone in the restaurant with respect. As simple as it seems, for some people this has to be consciously worked on. Many people confuse this type of respect with regarding something or someone with honor or esteem. The second definition refers to your internal thoughts and feelings while the first refers to how you behave in interpersonal interactions
2. How do you show consideration and appreciation? By being C.L.E.A.R with your intentions.
a. Courteous—be polite, smile, make eye contact, and act according to the situation.
b. Listener—let people know you’re listening by waiting until they are done speaking to respond.
c. Empathize—try to imagine what their wants, needs and tastes may be. Empathy is easily confused with sympathy. Sympathy refers to putting yourself in s position, while empathy refers to imagining how they perceive things from their point of reference. In serving and in life in general empathy is one of the most rewarding abilities you can focus on.
d. Address—Acknowledge those wants, needs and tastes and address them when you are formulating your response.
e. Respond—It all comes down to delivery. While they are speaking respond to each point of discussion with a signal of affirmation—a nod, uh huh, ok, etc. When they are done speaking, summarize their requests and address any hidden wants or needs you have perceived by suggesting solutions.