Customer Confession: What Is the Best Way to Tip a Server If You Are a Camper?

Dear Waitress Confessions…

I have a diner question, well a camper diner question. A friend of mine and I only see each other a couple of times a year.  We meet at a Cheesecake Factory typically on a Friday night around 5pm and leave around 10pm. We let our server know that we are gabbers, will be staying long and will tip accordingly.  That being said I want to know if there is a proper way to calculate a tip for camping.  I’ve been searching and searching and only find, “don’t do it – the server isn’t making the right amount” or “tip accordingly”.

We know we are taking a really long time.  We know we are coming on one of the worst nights and times to do this.  We order throughout the visit – generally putting in our dessert order and hour or so before we’re officially done.  We know we are potential PIA’s so we want to make sure that the servers leave feeling as happy with their campers as we, their campers, are!

We keep an eye out on a neighboring table and keep tabs on how many times the table was turned.  We calculate a 20% tip on our bill (tipping on the total amount after tax), then multiply that by the number of times the nearby table turned and round up to an even number.

For example, tonight we had a bill of $86 (it was about double what we typically spend because another person joined us for a while).  I noted the nearby table turned four times (for at least the last hour, the table was empty as were quite a few in the section).  We tipped $17.20 (20%), multiplied by 4 for a total tip of $70 ($50 in cash and $20 on a credit card).  The server seemed put out.

On our previous visit, the bill was $45 and the nearby tables turned three times.  We left the server, who was wonderful, $40 but then we lingered about an hour longer and left an additional $5 cash on the table.  The server was thrilled and let us know.

I generally feel that the tip is appropriate but by the time I get home I start to worry!

We are going to camp so I want to make sure that the server is compensated fairly from us.  What is the right formula for campers to tip so that the server is compensated properly?

(p.s. please don’t hold back – if this formula is stupid and we’re not doing it right, I’d much rather know than continue to do short change servers!)

 
Sincerely,
Happy Camper!
 
 

Dear Happy Camper…

Seems to me like you are a very considerate customer! 
 
Most people don’t realize that staying for hours and hours at a restaurant could be ruining someone’s night financially.  Although paying customers do have a right to enjoy their night as they want, they also need to understand that it is a business and yes – people are there to make money.  Waiters and waitresses mostly rely on their tips as their income, so having a table of two people where their bill is $40.00 for over the span of 5 hours is not going to give them the income they rely on to get by…because let’s face it – on a $40.00 bill even if you leave %20 that means a tip of $8.00 (divided by 5 hours…well…it’s really not a lot).
 
Unfortunately there is no rule or formula for this sort of situation, but I have to say – you may be on to something.  In all honesty, if I had a customer like you who took the time to notice how often my other tables turned and tipped accordingly…well I would be as happy as a clam! 
 
First of all, letting your server know that you will be staying for a long time is a great way to start out.  That way the server can mentally prepare themselves for how they will be serving you…and give them time to accept the idea that they have “lost” a table for the night.  Starting out with that, you may see the disappointment in their face, so following up with the fact that you will try to tip accordingly will lessen the blow a bit.
 
Second, I think keeping track of the tables turning beside you is a great way to somewhat judge how many times the table you’re seated at could have been turned throughout the night. 
 
That being said, I’d like to give you a few pointers on how to use your formula a little bit better (if you would permit me to do so).  Keep in mind, I am in no way saying that “This is the way it should be!”  I am merely suggesting other angles that you may not have considered.
 
#1.  When you’re seated at a table and you know who your server is, ask them if the table next to you is theirs as well.  Some restaurants have the sections for their servers spread out so it creates more movement within the restaurant.  So, if you’re judging the amount of times a table turns next to you in order to gauge how many times you should multiply you tip…well be sure that table belongs to your server.  Why?  Because if that table you’re basing your math on belongs to another server who slacks off and doesn’t care about turning their tables then you may only see it turn over once, whereas if your own server is a great server who can turn it 5 times then in reality your math would be off.  Ask your server if the table next to you theirs and if it is, use it to count the turns.
 
#2.  If you are going out with one other person, upon entering the restaurant I would suggest asking the host/hostess for a table made for two people.  If you’re really worried about being fair and not “screwing” a server over then this would be an important point.  If you don’t mention it, the host/hostess may seat you at a table with a maximum capacity of 4 people.  If you take that table all night, then the server is missing out on getting bigger tables (tables of 3 or 4 people) with bigger bills.  All that they’ll see are groups of 4 people being seated elsewhere and it may put them out that their table of 4 is taken by a table of two.  That way, you can also watch other tables of two and how many times they turn in order to calculate the appropriate tip.
 
#3.  After you have received your dessert and coffee, feel free to ask for the bill right away.  Some servers have to stick around until their customers have paid and even though their shift is over they are not supposed to force you to pay.  So they will wait and wait until you are done so they can finally go home.  Paying doesn’t necessarily mean you have to leave!  Ask your server if it’s alright that you pay them right away and if you stay a while longer.  They will be thrilled!
 
#4. Don’t be taken advantage of!  If you let a server know that you are a “camper”, but will try to tip accordingly and they DO NOT server you properly…I say screw it.  As servers we are supposed to serve everyone equally, whether you stay for half an hour or five hours.  You want to be served by someone who is a good sport and who deserves that fact that you take all these things into consideration when going out to eat.  Because, let’s face it…you don’t HAVE to do this, but it’s amazing that you do.  Don’t let a server’s bad attitude make you tip more because you feel bad.  Do it because a good waiter or waitress deserves it.
 
#5.  Point #4 being said, if you find a server who is thrilled by your tipping formula…stick with them.  Always ask to be served by them.  That way they start to know you as a customer.  They know your likes, dislikes, the pace that you like to be served at, etc.  That way when they see you, they know what to expect for their evening.  You’ll be comfortable knowing that your server knows how to serve you.
 
#6.  If you are at a fancy, expensive restaurant spending only $50.00 when the average bill is $100.00 then yes – you are kinda being “cheap” with the tipping.  If a server would normally be making $80.00 off a a table turning 4 times and you use your formula of %20 tip times 4 turns then the server is making half of what they should be making.  If you are just dining at good places where the average joe goes out for a meal…then don’t worry about it.  Fancier, high end restaurants would be different though.
 
#7.  A point made by Bubba Aldridge on this post shared by The Service Industry on Facebook brought up a very good idea.  “There are some restaurants who make their servers stay until all their tables have left. So, for anyone who knows they may stay an extended amount of time, when you arrive, ask for a closer’s section.”  A very good suggestion!  One to definitely take into consideration.
 
#8. A recent email from Lauren wrote that she would like to just add that “if you are dining at a restaurant that accepts reservations and want to camp that you should inform the person taking the reservation that you plan on spending a long time at your table.  This is  because those restaurants will plan on re-booking the table after a set time from your seating.  Just remember that if you are in a restaurant on a busy night that you will cost the business a loss of revenues as every table is expected to generate a certain amount of income for the night.”  Now, that being said don’t worry about having to spend more because the restaurant will be at a loss of income.  It happens all the time.  But if a restaurant is based on taking a lot of reservations and double/triple booking tables in an evening it would be a great idea to let them know you will be staying a long time so as not to affect another reservation.
 
Anyways, I hope this helped you out, but in all honesty (and in my opinion) you can just keep going the way you are.  I wish more people took the time to think about these things and I would be happy with someone just trying to take the server into consideration while “camping”.  I hoped this helped, and thank you for writing!
 

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The Pros and Cons of Being a Waiter / Waitress

Serve chilled.

There are a lot of different points to think about before considering a job as a waiter or waitress. To some it may seem like a step back in their career, but don’t really understand that it has the potential of being an excellent line of work, whereas others may think it may be the best job without realizing the pitfalls.

So, no matter which attitude you’re starting out with, it’s important to consider a few things before getting to the Pros and Cons of being a restaurant server.

Think about the following:

  • What kind of lifestyle do you want?
  • What kind of pay/income to you need in order to feel secure?
  • Are you willing to give up your weekends?
  • Can you manage a customer service job?
  • Are you willing to go above and beyond for customers?

So, moving on along from that, let’s start off with the list of pros of being a waiter/waitress and serving tables.

PROS

  • Always having cash on hand. You make your money mostly on tips, so leaving with your cash after every shift can be refreshing and extremely motivating.
  • Working less hours, but still making money. A lot of times you have the chance to work busy shifts, but end up making a day’s pay in a few hours. Instead of a 9 to 5, 8 hour days, you can make your money in sometimes 5 hours or less.
  • Always active.   Serving tables means running around grabbing this and that, carrying trays, bringing plates to tables, etc. By constantly moving you are constantly keeping fit rather than sitting in one chair for hours at a time, staring at a computer screen. You’re always on the move.
  • You’re around people. Being around people means hearing interesting stories, interacting and laughing. You also get to witness some pretty crazy stuff (read our True Stories) because, let’s face it, there is always something interesting happening if you’re around people. If you’re a social person than this is your best opportunity because the friendlier you are…the better the tips!
  • You have the ability to control your income – a bit. Since most of your income depends on your tips you have a bit of control of how the customers will show their appreciation for your service. The better service you give, they better tips – or at least the better chance of getting a good tip. So if you can charm your way into your hearts and give them the service they need…ka-ching!
  • The ability to be replaced. A lot of restaurants will allow servers to replace other servers as long as they are equal in their capabilities and experience. Being able to be replaced for a shift is excellent if you want a night off or have plans with family. With other types of jobs sometimes you have to take a sick or personal day, whereas with waitressing sometimes you can just call someone up last minute and have someone work your shift!
  • You don’t have to bring your work home with you. Once you’re off the clock, you never have to take work home with you in order to meet deadlines or carry the worry of wondering if the stress of your shift that day will bleed into the next day. Once a day is over – it’s over. Tomorrow is another day, another chance to better your day!
  • Once you’ve worked as a waiter/waitress…you can pretty much work anywhere as a server. Restaurants are always hiring. It may not be the classiest of restaurants, but if you need to move or are stuck without a job you can always turn to serving tables. You can work in hotels, on cruises, fast food restaurants, family owned restaurants, diners…I mean the choices are endless. As long as there are restaurants, there are jobs for servers.
  • Extra money during the holidays and special days. Days like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and around Christmas time you make a lot of extra money. Those times of the year bring in more people, bigger reservations, parties, etc. So there are times during the year where you make a little more than usual. Consider it like your bonus!
  • The good coworkers. What makes working as a server worthwhile sometimes are the people you work with. Your coworkers who have the same kind of work ethic as you will band together and create a strong bond. If you’re lucky, you’ll have other servers helping you out when you’re in the weeds, rooting for you to make more money, help serve your tables if you need a bathroom break, etc. Some coworkers will go above and beyond for you if you’ve got each other’s backs.
  • Employee outings and get-togethers. If you work with a good team, chances are you’re going to want to hang out with the people you work with. Sometimes people plan outings such as going out to a bar for a drink after work, playing team sports on your days off, paintball, going to see movies, house parties, barbecues, staff Christmas parties, etc. If you have good people you work with it’s like a second family where no one is left behind.

CONS

  • With experience and loyalty comes great responsibility. That basically means that the more you know about the restaurant, whether it be from hostess to the back of the house, the more work you may have to do compared to your coworkers. People will rely on you and expect more of you, which could make for even more stress from you. Will you get paid for the extra weight you pull? Maybe not.
  • Having to work weekends. If you’re working in a restaurant, there is pretty much a 100% chance of working weekends. While all of your friend, family and loved ones are off on weekend getaways and having dinner parties, you are the one “stuck serving” all the people out for a night on the town.
  • Always having money on hand. Yes – this is also a pro! But, people who are apt to spending the cash they have could have a major problem with managing their money. Cash is so easy to spend, especially if all the staff is going out for a drink afterwards.
  • After a while – it takes a toll on your body. So many times, servers who have been working for years will feel the effects of carrying heavy plates and constantly being on their feet. Back problems and knee problems are not uncommon. Being a server puts a lot of stress on your body.
  • No benefits. Whereas other companies give their employees benefits from sick days to dental, most restaurants do not provide that for their employees. Are you sick? You have to show up or you don’t get paid.’
  • Having to deal with @$$holes. Yup, I hate to say it, but it’s true. People can be jerks and you will deal with a lot of them. It varies from people who know nothing about the restaurant business, impatient people, people who think you’re their slave, and just plain down-right MEAN people. I’m not saying you have to take whatever crap people throw at you, but if you don’t have a thick enough hide to let some thinks just roll off of you…then this is not the job for you.
  • The bad co-workers. Oh my goodness…there are so many of them! Bad coworkers will ruin your day and can make you lose your mind. It’s always the co-workers who are always late, constantly check their phone in the back, sneak out a million times a night for a smoke break, ignore their customers, talk back to the kitchen, are rude to your tables, asking for replacements but never replacing anyone, and run around looking like they are busy but never actually lifting a finger. It can drive you NUTS!!! Sometimes it makes you think “Why do I bother working so hard?” and can make your motivation just plummet to the ground.
  • Having to work with a different set of “rules” than other jobs. What I mean by that is that the restaurant business has a different way of working. Sure you have the same set of work code and rules as other places…but sometimes not. Now, how shall I put this? For example, the busiest Saturday night you could ever imagine. There are people everywhere! A large party in the back corner is partying it up and talking and laughing loudly. There are kids running around the restaurant and their parents don’t seem to care. The ticket printer at the kitchen is running non-stop and drinks are just flying out of the bar. It’s loud. It’s chaotic. Suddenly, you make a serious mistake. You sent a table’s order, but they wanted to wait. Now the customers are furious that their food came out already and they want you to bring the plates back to the kitchen because they are in no way ready for their meals. You’re scared, because you screwed up and walk back towards the kitchen. Whoever is managing the kitchen is working in overdrive, trying to control everything. They’re sweating from calling out orders, yelling out directions and trying to stay on the ball…and now you have to tell them that you effed-up and throw their whole system off. They look at you at first like they don’t believe you…then you get the “Are you f*cking serious?!?!” look. Next think you know they kick a small garbage bin into the wall and call you an idiot. Is that the way people deal with mistakes in other jobs? No…not really. But, in the restaurant business there is a lot of frustration, especially when under the pressure of a jam packed restaurant. People lose their cool, managers yell, dishwashers quit on the spot with no notice, hostesses won’t seat your section if you do something they don’t like, people back stab and try to screw you over. That’s just the way it works sometimes.
  • The high possibility of becoming angry and bitter. Serving tables after a while can leave you feeling angry and bitter. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself constantly bashing your customers to other servers in the back, judging customers as soon as they sit down, getting down right pissed off about the tips that people leave you. It can get so bad that to a certain point there is nothing good about serving any more. You lose your faith in the good of the human race. The worst is that this kind of behavior is contagious. If you’re around other servers who are constantly angry and complaining about the little things, you’ll start to feel that way too unless you are of VERY strong character. You can turn into someone you don’t like…so be careful.
  • Dining out. Some servers aren’t able to dine out in the way people who don’t serve tables dine out. They will start judging their servers more, especially if they are horrible waiters, and constantly be cleaning up the table or stacking empty plates. They expect the same level of service as they give…and sometimes that’s just not the case. They’ll watch the way people work, hear the phone ringing, watch as their drinks just sit at the bar as they wait, and they know when their steak is over or under cooked. They know how things work and it can distract them from just enjoying their night out. That and sometimes being in a restaurant just reminds them of work.
  • Alcohol/drug abuse. Being in the restaurant business and serving tables can lead to all sorts of alcohol and/or drug problems. Where are you going to go to unwind with co-workers after work at 1 am? Most likely a bar or club. And what do people do at bars and clubs? Well, the answer is pretty obvious. Also, the stress of working in the business can lead to people looking for ways to relax and escape the realities of life. If you’re working as a server at a bar, people by you drinks, shots, and are looking for you to have a good time with them. Sometimes it’s just too hard to say no.

 Just remember…

Not all restaurants are the same.  Each individual restaurant has their own sets of advantages and disadvantages to working as a waiter or waitress.  Part of the decision is at least knowing what could potentially happen and having an all around idea of the good and the bad.  Take both sides into consideration when opting to serve tables and be ready for the best…and the worst.

Good luck!

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When Your Tips Just Don’t Add Up

tipsToday was such a great day.  I had an amazing lunch rush for a Sunday and everyone seemed to be in the best of moods.  And you know what good moods mean?  Good tips!  I won’t lie, I schmoozed a little bit, but was genuinely happy to be serving our customers today.  Life was good and the tips were generous.

The night shift was slow, but I had a couple of good tables that left me $20.00 so that helped me out quite a bit.  At the end of my shift, I tallied up the tips that I had made throughout the day (I keep a record so that I have a good idea of what I’ll be leaving with).  So, here’s the number all my tips added up to:

$173.00

I felt very happy about that.  I worked hard, served my customers well, ran plates and drinks, cleaned and helped other waiters.  Seemed like for the amount of work I put in…well it was fair.  When it came to doing my “reading” or my “report” (where the manager checks all my credit cards, interacs, cash, and tip-outs) I was left with $120.00.

$120.00?!?!?

It didn’t make sense to me.  Didn’t add up.  So when I checked how much I tipped out ($22.00) and deducted that from my total, I was left with $151.00 (which would make sense).  But where was that $30.00?  The manager checked everything again and even went as far as to go through all my bills with me in case another waiter was ringing up orders on my code and closing it cash.  Hey..it could happen.  But that wasn’t the case.  I was missing $30.00

What a bitch, lemme tell ya!  What happened to that money?  Other servers were asking “Did you put some money aside? Put it somewhere else by accident?” and the answer was plain and simple: NO!  I am very careful with my money when it comes to counting and keeping it safe in my apron. So what happened?  I honestly have absolutely no idea.  The only thing I can think of is if it accidentally fell out of my money clip.  But everything stays together in one place and it’s pretty secure.

So, I had no choice but to accept it.  Everything else balanced and the restaurant isn’t going to reimburse me for any lost money because it is…technically…my fault.  But, when you’re a stickler for precision and money, it’s really hard to believe that I misplaced it.  I just left.  Took the hit and left.

Getting home and opening a cheap bottle of wine to drown my sorrows in, I keep going over my day – wondering if I somehow miscalculated or put money aside without realizing it. But my thoughts also dance around the idea of relying on technology to calculate all of my sales, tips, taxes and discounts.  Could the computer I use somehow be deducting money without me realizing?  Is it possible that somewhere in the computer system there is a glitch?

The idea of the possibility of technology being the culprit scares me, because to be honest I have no idea how it works.  All the deductions and calculations it automatically makes.  As an owner or manager, you can set the computer to pretty much whatever you want, so in my mind…is it possible that something somewhere in the computer is making a deduction it shouldn’t?  Now…that’s a scary thought.

But us, as servers, how are we supposed to know this? Just take the word of the people we work for who are mostly there to make money?  Sounds like it could be fishy to me, especially when they are the ones setting the conditions for the computer system. We can’t exactly approach them and say “What’s the deal here? I’m missing money!!” and expect them to pay out of their pocket when they believe you’re the one who lost it somehow.  There’s no way to prove it, no complete record of cash (because a server could just pocket it), no way to show that you made the money you made 100%.

So it’s a problem – at least in my eyes.

I’ll take it as a bad day.  A day where I lost money somewhere and it cost me in tips.  There’s nothing more I can do except write about it and then move on.  But in reality – it does come down to money.  And I need money to pay for bills, food, rent, etc.  The missing money is almost my cellphone bill for the month.  When you look at it that way, when your tips just don’t add up, it’s not just a few dollars here and there.  It can be a whole big difference.

 

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That Restaurant Life by vickyamartin


Here at The Waitress Confessions we love hearing about your own daily lives as a waiter or waitress.  Here is a post that we found called That Restaurant Life by vickyamartin.  Check out her blog and read the original post


 

Back in 2012…

waitress pollwhen I was looking for a summer job, I remember countless people saying to me “Become a waitress!  You will make a ton of money.”  As a college student I thought, how bad could it be?  The money that came from tips sounded appealing and I worked as a cook in a pizza shop since high school so I had some restaurant experience.  I got hired at a Buffalo Wild Wings and there I learned what waitressing was all about. And after swearing to myself that I would never wait tables again for any reason after quitting that job, I decided to work at a local bar and restaurant once again this past summer.

On a busy Friday night, restaurants are a nightmare. Waiters and waitresses are bumping into one another while running food and drinks to tables, cooks are yelling at one another to complete orders, and the printer is spitting out orders to the cooks almost constantly.

As a waitress at a restaurant that has a bar, I have become accustomed to staying up until 2 a.m. waiting for a handful of customers to drink their final beer after last call.  I have met some customers who are always a delight to wait on.  Those people understand that the servers and bartenders are working for far less than minimum wage ($2.13 an hour) and their positive attitudes make it easy to enjoy my job.  They also understand what gratuity is fair and our paychecks are hardly enough to buy dinner at McDonalds.  Their tips are what we use to get by; they are the cash that goes into our pockets at the end of the night.  Then there are the people who do not understand said tipping concept, or the effort being put in my cooks, bartenders, and servers to keep the restaurant sailing smoothly. Whether it is ignorance or a bad experience that prevent these people from tipping, it still should not be the servers pay that suffers.  I work at a restaurant that does not add gratuity to checks and many of times have found that it should be mandatory.

One busy Saturday night in January, I was running around from table to table as usual; refilling Pepsi with the one soda machine in the restaurant, running beer and drinks to customers, taking food and drink orders, and checking to see how my eight or nine tables were doing.  I introduced myself to an older couple got them their drinks and took their food order.  While waiting for their food to come up, I ran checks to other customers who were leaving and took drinks to new arriving customers.

When the older couple’s hoagies were ready, I took them to the table and asked if they needed anything else, and left.  When I returned to their table, what I experienced was something worse than scorn you would receive from your own mother.

“This is unacceptable!” the old man shouted at me.  The woman chimed in and added that my service was terrible as they had watched their hoagies sit on the oven for a whole two minutes while I brought drinks to my other customers. When I offered to get them something else to eat on the house, suddenly nothing was good enough.  If they were not the center of my attention the whole night, I wasn’t a good enough waitress either.  I gave them their check and got a 13 cent tip.  The inability to understand how a restaurant works and lash out at your waitress for something they could not control shocked me. When waiting on many tables at once, it isn’t right to skip out on taking care of one table because of the impatient needs of another.

I realized from this experience why I enjoy my job as a waitress.  Interacting with people and making them smile and laugh while they are out to dinner also puts a smile on my face.  Seeing families together having a good time helps me suck up the fact that I am getting paid $2.13 an hour. And most of the time, goodhearted people are the understanding ones who have worked for minimum wage or less and are generous.

It is possible some people will find a reason to be cheap and skip out on tipping their waitress because of just about anything.  I came across an article from the Huffington Post about a waitress from New Jersey who was left a note instead of a tip by a family of four.  It read “I’m sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle choices.” The woman, who was gay, also happened to be a marine and posted a photo of the note to Facebook.  This is an example that people are unethical and look for reasons to not tip.  In this case, the family was banned from the restaurant and the waitress received an outpouring of donations after this incident went public.  While I do not believe that all non-tippers should be banned from restaurants—because sometimes there is good reason for not tipping—I believe if you are eating out at a restaurant and have a server provide you good service, gratuity should be mandatory.  Many people raise children, pay for their education, and pay living expenses from their tips as servers.

As a server, you have to have a backbone.  The bottom line is that if people are not working hard at a restaurant, the restaurant will likely fail.  If all restaurants added in gratuity that could be taken off in the event of terrible service, which does happen, servers would still work hard and things would run efficiently, perhaps even better.  Waiters and waitresses can go home with money to pay their expenses like workers of other occupations, rather than having their wallet pay because of someone’s personal issues.

Written by : vickyamartin

 

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Surviving the Holidays as a Restaurant Server

DO_Lakeview Restaurant_ChristmasAS THE TEMPERATURE DROPS and December nears, you can feel it in the air that the holiday season is upon us.  Restaurants are a zoo this time of year and already you start to cringe at the thought of hearing those dreaded Christmas songs over and over again during your work shift.  Just knowing that this time of year brings throngs of family get-togethers and staff holiday parties will either make you ecstatic at the thought of all those tips you’ll be earning…or make you want to rip your hair out.

Before the holiday rush starts, you need to be mentally and physically prepared so that you don’t become (as my boss says) “burnt toast” by the end of it all.  Accepting the holidays for what they are is a big part of getting through it, but there are also a few things you can do to make this time less stressful.

Start shopping now.

If you’re giving gifts to loved ones this holiday season, do yourself a favor and start buying your presents as soon as humanly possibly.  The last thing you need is to scramble to find someway to get your shopping done on your break in-between shifts.  Just finding parking will take you at least half an hour!  Not to mention the lineups to pay and having to push through crowds of people at the food court.  You’ll end up feeling frustrated and rushed, which never helps when you have to get back to the hustle and bustle at work.  Getting this done sooner will help clear your mind while on the job, allowing you to focus less on all the things you need to get done for the holidays.

Accept that you will be working longer hours.

Sometimes it’s difficult to transition into the holidays as a server.  If you’re used to getting off work, for example, at 8:00 p.m. on Thursday nights and then all of a sudden you’re staying past closing time, it can be quite a shock to your system.  Plans you make fall through because the restaurant is busier than usual, your feet and arms are even more sore from serving more tables, and you finish your shift feeling like you’ve got no free time for yourself.  It can leave you emotionally discouraged and possibly make you bitter towards your manager for keeping you longer than usual, but you need to accept that that’s the restaurant business.  The sooner you accept that you’ll be working longer hours, the less of a shock it will be when you do.

Get plenty of rest.

I know it’s the time of year where friends and family gather and you’re invited to parties every single weekend, but keep in mind that going to too many outings or staying out until the wee hours of the morning is going to end up catch up with you at work.  Try to get the best of both worlds without compromising your sleep.  Trust me, you’ll feel fresh and alert and keep you going strong rather than waking up with hangovers, wondering how you’re ever going to get through your double-shift.

Remember to stay calm.

We all know the holidays bring around many different types of guests.  You’ll get customers who have never been to your restaurant before and will ask a million questions in the middle of the rush, you’ll have guests who are unaware of proper dining etiquette and leave you feeling like there is no hope for humanity, and you’ll serve tables that seem to have no clue about how the tipping process works.  Just remember to do one thing….breathe.  Go easy on your customers because they are just as stressed about the holidays as you are.  Some people only go out to eat around the holidays in order to treat themselves or just going along with what their family and/or friends want, so it’s part of your job to make them feel comfortable.  Smile and be patient.  If you’re constantly getting frustrated, it’s going to wear you out and tear you down before you even realize what hit you. The calmer you are with “difficult” customers, the more relaxed you’ll feel overall.

Stay healthy.

The holidays bring along a huge assortment of mouth-watering feasts, tasty cocktails and decadent desserts.  Try to stick to your healthy ways by remembering to get plenty of exercise and make sure you don’t overindulge in food or drink.  It will help keep up your energy while serving tables.

If possible, celebrate the holidays on your days off.

Having to turn down holiday plans because of work can really take a toll on you.  You feel like you’re missing out on family time and never get to see your close friends.  While everyone is off of work for the holidays, we as servers are stuck serving.  Our loved ones tell us “Just take the day off!”, but we all know it isn’t as simple as that – but, oh how we wish it were!  Try to organize a dinner party or holiday breakfast on your days off so that you can partake in the festivities as well.

Rant about work with your coworkers after your shift.

There’s nothing like letting off a little steam with the people who understand your job the best.  If you have some coworkers that you really get along with, go out for a drink after work and let it all out.  Get mad, laugh, go on and on about how great or how bad your shift was and get it all out of your system.  Holding everything inside will eventually cause you to explode – possibly taking it out on a customer or causing you to quit in mid-rush.

Reward yourself.

While everyone has time off for the holidays, you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off at work.  So, after the holiday rush is done and before Valentine’s day rolls around, see if you can find some time to take a few days or even a week off for yourself.  Think of it like a reward for working your butt off.  Or, if your prefer, put aside some of that extra money you earned and treat yourself to something that will help you recharge your batteries.  You honestly deserve it.

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Tip of the Day: Don’t Judge People’s Food Choices

restaurants

When asked ‘What is the worst thing a waiter or waitress can do while serving you?’, this is the response that was given:

“Question what I order.  It’s happened before that I ask for something a little unusual (add this, take this off) and the server will say ‘Are you sure that’s what you want?’ It really annoys me because the answer is ‘Yes. This is what I want, otherwise I wouldn’t order it.’  Please don’t judge my choices.”  – Emily (Store Supervisor)

Judging customer’s food choices can be extremely insulting.  Making comments such as “That’s a lot of food, are you sure you want that?” or “Not the best choice of wine, but if that’s what you want…” can be taken very badly, leaving the customer feel self-conscious and anxious. Instead of asking the customer if they are sure of their order, repeat it back to them and wait for confirmation that the order is correct, especially when it comes to “strange” or “weird” food orders.   Never make your guests doubt their orders based on your personal tastes.

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MUST HAVE: For Waiters and Waitresses

Portable Coin Dispenser

I, for one, hate it when change is loose in my apron.  I do carry a little change purse, but it quickly overfills and takes me forever to find the right change.

coin dispenser

So, I thought that this change dispenser would solve all my problems, and to tell you the truth it has.  Especially during a rush when a party of 10 all wants their complete change, this helps me out in so many ways.  Sometimes as a waiter/waitress, you just need to keep organized.

It does have a clip in the back if you want, but I just keep it in my apron as is.  I know this is full of Canadian money, but I’m sure they have the same thing all around the world.  Look out for it.  It’s a useful little tool.

Cheers!

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Dear Waitress…

Dear Readers,

I recently received an email from a new server looking for any help they could get while in the “rush”.  We’ve all been there and no matter how many years experience you have under your belt it doesn’t save your from those random times where you are just completely slammed with tables.  I thought it would be interesting to share this email with you, along with my response, and look forward to any tips you may have of your own.

Please feel free to leave a comment at the end of the post with any advice you may have for this new server.

Thank you!

The Waitress

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

QUESTION

“Hi!  I was hoping you could share your expertise on dealing with the “rush.” I’m new to serving and get overwhelmed a bit more than most. However, I really enjoy serving and want to know how to better take care of my customers during a rush. How do I best serve all my tables when I’m bombarded by tables? Is it better to wait a few minutes to greet a table so I can immediately serve than their drinks, or take their order immediately and have them wait several minutes until I arrive with their order? Any help and tips would be greatly appreciated!!”

– The Frazzled Waitress

ANSWER

Dear Frazzled Waitress,

Thank you so much for writing to us! We greatly appreciate all comments and questions.

Something to keep in mind when you’re in the “rush” is to remember to keep your cool.  Most importantly keep your cool around your customers.  The more they see you running around like a chicken with its head cut off, the more they’ll feel stressed about their service and wonder whether or not you forgot their order or not.  Remember to smile even when concentrating on the million things you have to do at once.  If the customers see that you’re busy, but it looks like you’ve got everything under control they’ll be impressed.

Now, I know you want to do a good job, so while looking all fine and dandy on the outside is great, you also want to feel good knowing that you’re doing the best you can with the situation you’re in. Plus, you want to know you’re doing your job well.  So…

Tables are being seated at an alarming speed and you’re having a hard time getting to them all.  Make sure you greet people in the order that they came in.  There’s nothing worse when you’re a customer and another table that came in after you gets to order first.  Mistakes do happen and sometimes you don’t see a table, but make that extreme effort to make sure that doesn’t happen.  Always be aware of what is happening in your section.

Think about what you need to do first.  What would that be?  The greeting and drink orders (most likely).  That’s something that can also buy you some time when you see other tables being seated as you’re at a table.  Ask them “Would you like something to drink to start?” and if they start to look at the menu, unsure of what to have, let them know that you’ll give them a few moments to look through the wine and/or cocktail list.  Not only does it help up-sell (they may not have taken a drink to start  if you hadn’t mentioned it), but helps buy you time to greet the new tables.  So, be sure that while those customers are busy picking a fantastic drink, you’re off greeting the new customers that just sat down.

If they’re ready to order drinks right away…well all the better!  Inform them that you’ll be right back with their drinks and head off to your other tables.  The place where it gets tricky is when they are ready to order at the same time.  Then you are at the table for a lot longer than expected and your other tables are starting to wonder where their waiter is.  That will stress you out, but try not to rush through the order.  That table deserves your utmost attention so keep eye contact and remember to write everything down and repeat the order to avoid mistakes.  Also, this is where knowing your menu 100% comes in handy.  The last thing you want to do is waste time taking an order, so when the customers have questions about the menu you should know the answers.  Memorize your dressings, toppings, sides, extras, etc.  It will help you to take orders quickly and accurately.

Something you can try is if you’re in the rush and walking away from a table with your hands full of plates, is approaching a new table and saying “Hello! I’ll be right with you” (or something around those lines).  It lets the new customers know that you are aware that they are there and that you haven’t forgotten about them.  Most customers will appreciate the gesture and tell you it’s no problem, but if you say you’ll be right with them, you’d better make it as quick as possible.  Don’t hold off on them for 10 minutes or else you’ll start to lose their respect.

Be organized!  Minimize your trips and maximize your steps (meaning don’t go back and forth for nothing and do as much as you can while walking through your section) The last thing you want to do is keep going back and forth for things that you’ve forgotten.  Use both your hands and carry as many plates as you can when clearing tables.  Use trays to pick up empty glasses and don’t forget to ask for refills while you’re at it.  Multitasking is key here.  You want to be as efficient as possible.

Something I’ve always asked servers-in-training over and over again is “What’s happening in your section?”  I’d literally get them in mid “rush” to stop and tell me exactly what was happening.  “Table 1 is eating, table 2 needs the dessert menu, I need to do a check back on table 3 and 6, table 5 is ready to pay, and we need to order table 7”.  Now, that’s something that every server should stop and do.  If you don’t take that second, you may forget to order a table’s appetizers or print another table’s bill.  Every now and then just take a deep breath and ask yourself “What’s happening in my section?” and go through all your tables.

Please know, when I give my advice it is solely on what I have learned as a waitress.  You may work in a larger or smaller restaurant than I do, so the way the restaurant’s system works may be different than mine.  The restaurant I work in is quite big and takes a lot of time to walk from the back to the front so the “going back and forth” system doesn’t work.  We need to be efficient.  Also, some restaurants have runners, a teamwork environment, and bigger sections so it’s difficult to say what the best procedure for you would be.  I’m lucky to work in a teamwork environment where if I get slammed other waiters will notice and come help me, everyone runs everyone’s drinks and food, and anyone guest can stop any waiter if they are ready to order.  In other restaurants, though, you have to do everything yourself and I  can see how difficult that can be.

All I can really say is keep calm, smile, be patient, be focused, and know your menu inside out.

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True Story: The Cold Soup Conundrum

As I was closing up one night at the Hot Spot on a Wednesday night, I saw two last minute customers walk into the restaurant.  The manager on duty at that point was a little bothered by it.  We had no one in the restaurant for the past hour and the kitchen was closing in 10 minutes.  He was looking forward to getting home a little earlier than usual.

The Manager says to me “Go see them right away and see what they want to eat.” So I walk as quickly as possible and as I come closer I see that it’s a couple, a man and a woman, and their menus are closed, just waiting to order. I was glad that they knew what they wanted already.  I asked them if they were ready to order.

Woman:  We’re just here for a bowl of your daily soup. [laughs)

As she’s speaking, I can tell that she’s either extremely drunk or on some sort of drug.  She’s wearing a sloppy smile and slurring her words.  The man has a goofy grin on his face and looks like he’s trying not to laugh.

Me: Will that be all? The kitchen is closing in 5 minutes so if you’d like anything else I need to let them know.

Man: Nope. Ha ha ha……that’s it.

Woman : [laughs hysterically]

I walk away and tell the manager that they only want the soup and he tells the kitchen staff to start closing up.  I ladle soup into two bowls and take it to the table.  I put one down in front of each of them and they’re silent.

Me: Here we are! Enjoy!

Woman: We will! [mimicking my cheerful voice]

Man: [laughs]

I just walk away and let them eat their soup in peace.  I start finishing up my closing tasks when I see the woman get up from her seat and start waving her arm in the air.  I drop what I’m doing to go see her right away.

Me: Is everything alright here, ma’am?

Woman: The soup’s cold.

Me: Oh, I’m sorry about that. Let me warm it up for you.  Sir, would you like me to warm up yours as well?

Man: [half way done his soup] No, mine’s fine.

Me: Alright. I’ll be right back with your soup, ma’am.

I checked the temperature of the soup and it seemed quite warm, not scalding hot, but not cold either.  The only way for us to warm up soup is to nuke it for a bit.  So, I stuck her bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds.  I didn’t want to put it in too long because I didn’t want her to burn her tongue.  The microwave beeped and I stirred up the soup, changed the bowl and spoon, and brought the bowl back to the table.

Me: Here we are, ma’am.  I hope it’s hotter now.

No one said anything so I left the table as the woman was stirring the soup.  Suddenly I hear the woman trying to get my attention.

Woman: Uh….excuse me!

I turn around and head back to the table.

Me: Yes, ma’am?

Woman: It’s still cold. [laughs]

I kind of chuckled, thinking she was joking but she just kept staring at me.  I apologized and told her I’d warm it up some more.  The man was finished with his and I cleared the bowl from the table at the same time.  I headed back towards the soup station.

Manager:  What’s wrong?

Me: She says the soup is still cold.  I’ll put it in for another 45 seconds.

Manager: Well, she obviously wants her soup to be boiling hot, so just stick it in for a minute and a half to be sure.

So I wait as the microwave counts down the seconds.  When the soup’s ready I take it back to the table and place it in front of the woman.  I can see the steam rising from the bowl.  There’s no way that she can think it’s cold now.

Me: Here we are.  Just please be careful, I’m sure the soup is quite hot now.

She barely listens to me as she stirs the soup quickly and takes a huge spoonful.

Woman: Ugh! It’s too hot now! Take it away. I don’t want it.

Man: Baby, just let it sit for a bit and it will cool down.

Woman: [laughs]  Oh yeah! Ha, ha, ha! It’s okay. I’ll eat it.

I just stood there for a moment, trying to judge the situation.  Was this for real?  I started to walk away and kept looking back.  I could see the woman sitting with her hands on her lap, staring blankly at the bowl of soup just waiting for it to cool.  The weird thing was that the man was doing exactly the same thing.  They just sat there for 5 minutes, staring at one bowl of soup.

From afar I could see the woman take her spoon and start eating.  She was done in less than 2 minutes. I brought them the bill (about $10).  They got up to pay with a credit card, so I passed it and handed them their copy to sign.

Me: Thank you so much, have a wonderful evening.

They said nothing and just walked out the door.  I checked the bill.

They left me 25 cents.

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8 Tips on How to Train a New Waiter/Waitress

Waitstaff Portrait
Photo Credit: DWinton 2005

There’s a certain sense of pride you should have if your boss has assigned a server-in-training to you.  It means that you’re doing your job well and are capable of showing someone else the ropes.   So take a moment to congratulate yourself: you are a great server!

But what happens when you’re unsure of how exactly to train someone?  You may have been doing the job for so long that you know everything as if second nature, so teaching someone else without forgetting something can be a little nerve wracking.  Some restaurants have a strict training policy, but others kind of just throw you into it, so be prepared no matter which category your job falls into.

Of course, there are a few things to keep in mind when training:  does the person you’re training have experience…or not? At first, I would suggest treating each new employee as if they’re learning for the first time and work from there.  The more experience you see, the less you’ll be teaching about how to be an actual server and the more you’ll be teaching about the working system of your particular restaurant.

Either way, here are a few 8 tips on how to train a new waiter/waitress.   If you’re a server-in-training and need a few tips, you may want to read our article titled 9 Tips for a Waiter/Waitress In Training

TIP #1:  Get organized

There are so many things that need to be taught that some of us don’t even know where to begin.  If you have enough notice from your boss on when the first day of training is, take some time before then to make a list of everything that needs to be shown to the newcomer.  What’s the first thing you want to show them?  What are the most important things that the trainee should memorize?  What do they need to learn first in order to learn the way the restaurant is run?

Here’s an example of a list of priorities, starting with the first day of training:

  • Menu Knowledge
  • Wine List Knowledge (if applicable)
  • Floor Plan Knowledge (table numbers, bar area, sections, etc.)
  • Tour of the restaurant (so the trainee knows where everything is: bathrooms, stock rooms, fridges, stations, etc)
  • How to clock in and clock out
  • Cleaning tasks and side works
  • Tables (presentation, cleaning, preparations, etc)
  • The “running” system of the restaurants (how to run drinks from the bar, salads, soups, hot food, etc)
  • How to greet customers
  • How to take orders
  • How to ring up the orders (POS System)
  • Any steps of service (check backs, recooks, how to handle any complaints, etc)
  • Serving coffee and dessert
  • Presenting the check
  • Closing duties
  • Closing cleaning tasks and restocking
  • Sales report at the end of the shift
  • Rules of the restaurant

Make sure you follow a certain schedule so that they training makes sense.  You don’t want to start showing them how to take orders if they haven’t even begun to memorize the menu (although, in my opinion, the trainee should have at least 85% of the menu memorized by their first day of training. Tip of the Day: Learn Your Menu.)  Following your list of priorities will help you make sure you didn’t skip a step.

TIP #2:  Shadowing

A very important step.  Have your trainee “shadow” your every move.  Before they even take an order, have them watch every step you take.  Tell them to note how you speak with the customers, your tone of voice, your facial features, your posture, etc.  Every little thing is important and if your restaurant has a way of presenting specials, up-selling promotions, or even describing the catch of the day make sure that your trainee knows the proper way to do these things.  Consistency is very important in the restaurant business.

Also, when it comes time to picking up the speed and running drinks and food, it’s important that your trainee recognizes the pace of your particular restaurant and learns how to keep up with it.  At a quickly paced restaurant, the last thing you want is for your trainee to get stuck in 2nd gear when they should be shifting it up a few notches.  Tell them to keep up with you and that you want then 2 steps behind at all times.

TIP #3: Answer their questions

No matter how naive the question may seem, just answer it in a polite way.    It may seem like common sense to you, but remember that every restaurant is different and they just want to know how things run at their new place of work.  The more questions they ask, the better.  Take note, however, if they are asking the same questions over and over.  They are there to learn and soak up as much knowledge as they can, but if they can’t retain any of the things you are teaching them, it may be a red flag.

TIP #4 : Ask questions

This is the best way for new servers to learn, especially when it comes to learning the menu.  Ask them to describe certain dishes for you.  If they stumble or come out with a wishy-washy description, show them the correct way of describing the restaurants meals and tell them to practice.  Ask them to name all the beers the restaurant offers on tap.  They may respond, for example, like this “Uh…Heineken…um, Guinness….” so be prepared to show off a little and show them how you list off all the beers.  Asking questions before customers get a chance to ask them is the best way for them to prepared when it comes time for them to take orders.  Feel free to ask questions out of the blue and don’t be afraid to put them on the spot.  During a rush, they’ll need to be prepared so catch them off guard so when the time comes they aren’t flailing for answers.

TIP #5: Role play

Pretend you are a customer and go through a dry run of taking a table’s order.  Have them come up to you (pretending to be a customer) and act out a service.  If you think it’s silly…well it is a little.  But it’s the best way for you to get an idea of how they will be once faced with real customers.  Remember, they will be practicing on your tables, so you want them to make as little mistakes as possible.  A dry run will help you to correct any bad habits, mistakes, and allow you to make suggestions.  Also, it will give the trainee a chance to get out their nerves before heading over to their first table.

TIP #6: Shadow them

Once the training has been done and you are ready to see them in action,  let them take the reigns for a while.  Inform them that they will be handling everything from A to Z and you’ll be following them to make sure that they are serving the guests properly.  Be ready to jump in when they aren’t sure and take mental notes on anything that they are doing that doesn’t meet your restaurant’s standards.  At the end of the day, go over what they need to work on, point out any strong points or things that they did perfectly, and ask if they have any questions or comments about how they believe their service was.

TIP #7: Give them space

If your trainee is catching on quickly and is starting to really get a feel for the job, give them a bit of space.  Back off and let them take the wheel for a bit.  See how they do on their own.  Let them make a few minor mistakes so that they will learn (while making sure it doesn’t affect your customer’s dining experience of course). Make a few comments here and there such as “Hurry it up a bit” or “You forgot to order their drinks” and ask a few questions to help guide them such as “What are you forgetting on that table?” or “What’s your priority right now?”.  But other than that, pretend that they are working alone.  It’s the best way for you to see if they are capable of handling the job and the best way for them to get a real sense of what is expected of them.

TIP #8: Teach them how to Spoil Their Customers

Every restaurant has a different way of spoiling their customers.  Whether it be offering a drink on the house for a regular customer or going above and beyond the steps of service, there are always ways that you can teach someone how the restaurants customers prefer to be served.  Your trainee may have worked at a previous restaurant that wasn’t as keen about giving good service as you, so make sure they live up to the standards of the restaurant.

Now you’re all set for the basics of training a new waiter/waitress.  Of course, there are so many other little details, but this will help give you an overview of what to do and tricks on how to get the best out of your trainee.

Good luck!

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Work Ethic: Minimize Your Trips and Maximize Your Steps

blurry restoWaiters and waitresses are constantly being thrown all around the restaurant.  Fetch this, pick up that, take orders, run plates, etc.  It’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle and can wind up looking like a chicken with its head cut off.  The key to being a productive and organized server is learning to Minimize Your Trips and Maximize your steps.

What does it mean to “Minimize Your Trips”?

Well, let’s say your Table #1 needs more water and Table #2 needs the debit machine to pay.  There are two ways you could possible go about this.

You could:

  • Get the water pitcher
  • Walk to Table #1 to fill up the glasses
  • Go back and put the water pitcher away
  • Pick up the debit machine
  • Walk to Table #2 and have them pay
  • Put back the debit machine and continue on your way

Or you could:

  • Pick up the water pitcher and debit machine
  • Fill the water on Table #1
  • Have Table #2 pay
  • Bring the water pitcher and debit machine back where they belong and continue on your way.

The second way is most obviously the better route to take. Going back and forth for things can end up wasting your time (and your customer’s time) which leads to a slower service, less sittings, therefore fewer tips in your pocket.

Take a good look at your section and your tables from afar, see what needs to be done, and plan accordingly.  You will always find yourself at one point or another going back and forth for things, but sometimes that’s out of your control (ex: a customer asks for another beer at the last second).

What does it mean to “Maximize Your Steps”?

Make every step you take count!  Walking by a table that is finished eating? Clear as much as you can.  Bringing water to a table? Walk by all your tables to refill water glasses before you put the pitcher away.  Do everything you can possible do while walking through your section before walking off to the bar or the back of the house.

this also applies to running drinks and plates.  Don’t just take one table’s beverage from the bar.  Take the initiative and bring several drink orders at once.  It clears the bar faster, the customers get their drinks quicker, and you don’t have to keep going back and forth for things.  Maximizing your steps helps minimize your trips.  Is there only one drink order at the bar?  You should be checking if there are any plates to run from the kitchen.  Keeping that “hands full” attitude will grab your managers attention, letting them know you can handle many different things at once. Remember, maximizing your steps helps minimize your trips.

Different restaurants, different rules…

Of course, these things vary from each restaurant you may work at.  In general, you do want to organize the priorities in your section without feeling like you keep going back and forth..back and forth.  Sometimes you just need to take a second and take in all the things you need to do, put them in order, and find the most effective way to get each task done.

Good luck!

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Tip of the Day : Learn Your Menu

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.” ~ Albert Einstein

Are you training to be a waiter or waitress?  Before you start, make sure that you know your menu inside out.  It will help speed up the process and you’ll have an easy time taking the guests’ orders.

Didn’t get a menu to study?  Sometimes restaurants have their complete menu online so you can get an idea of the meals that they have. Get a head start and stand out and shine among the other servers!

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For more tips as a training waiter or waitress, see “9 Tips for a Waiter/Waitress in Training”.

The Importance of Getting to Work On Time

Resto Red ChairsIt seems simple, doesn’t it?  Getting to work on time.  Although, for some people it just never seems to happen.  That coworker who strolls in 15 minutes late without a care in the world or the vet waiter who’s been there for 16 years and feels they can do whatever they want whenever they want.  We see it all the time and sometimes we even notice it in ourselves.

Tardiness drives me absolutely insane.  You know why? Because it’s one of the easiest things you can do to gain the respect of your boss and coworkers without them even realizing it.  Plus, it also has advantages for yourself.  Sometimes employees don’t really seem to grasp the importance of being on time and what they don’t realize is the benefits that come along with it.

First, you have more time to prepare for the day ahead.  That’s the real reason why the managers want to see you there on time (or even early).  In the restaurant business, you never know what can happen.  A group of 25 people can walk in at any minute and at all times you want to be ready for whatever rush is thrown at you.  When you get into work early and all systems are a go, you’ll look more professional when that unexpected rush comes in.  Your boss will be impressed.  Who knows, you may even score a bigger (or better) section next time.

Another reason to be on time is for those odd days where tables start coming in early.  This is mostly for shifts where you’re getting on the floor and there is already a waiter.  If he’s buried or in the weeds then hostesses will start seating people in your section giving you a couple extra tables for the night.  It helps out your coworker, plus puts a bit of extra cash in your pocket.

Last, it just shows a certain amount of respect for you job.  Your bosses want to see that you care about the restaurant and actually want to be there.  If they see an employee slacking off, coming in late, it shows them that they’d probably be better of hiring someone else.  If you value your job and want to keep it then make a point of getting to work on time for every shift.

If you are going to be late for important reasons, pick up the phone and call.  It’s the least you can do, but don’t make a habit out of it.  For emergencies only.

Do you think it’s important to be on time for your shift?  Leave a comment or tweet us!

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Forgot to Send a Table’s Order? My Bad…

A lot of servers go through this at one point in their career as a server.  It’s dreaded occurrence that will happen at one time or another, whether working as a server for your first time or if you’ve been doing it for years.

You will forget to send an order.

It mostly happens either when the restaurant is booming or when it’s disastrously quiet.  Is it your fault as a server when this happens?  Why yes, yes it is.  But we can come to realize is that we are people,plain and simple.  And what do people do?  Well they make mistakes.  It happens.  The best we can do is try to learn from our mistakes so as not to repeat them (hopefully) in the future.

I’ve seen a few different approaches as to solving this problem when it happens. There are a few that I find to be sneaky and deceiving and another approach I find is the best way to resolve the problem of forgetting to send an order to the kitchen.

So, imagine you’ve just realized that you never sent out a table’s order.  You scramble around to ring it up as fast as you can.  After the order is sent and you know it will be another while before the food comes out, so you need to decide what to do next.

Here are some different possible scenarios with different types of servers and let’s see which one seems like the right way to handle the situation.

1.  Skittish Steve – Avoiding the table until their food is served.

Skittish Steve is a waiter that will notice the customers waiting impatiently, looking around for their food and even stopping other waiters for information about when their meals will be arriving.  Skittish Steve knows that avoiding the table means not having to answer to the “We’ve been waiting half an hour for our food” spiel.  Of course, this type of waiter doesn’t want to confront that uncomfortable conversation, so even though they know it’s understandable that the customers will be furious, they’ll leave the plates on the table giving some half-assed apology of “Sorry, it was longer than usual tonight ” or even worse of pretending like nothing is wrong.  The customers now have their food and can hardly believe how long it took.  They’ll leave, reminding themselves never to return because the service was terrible and the kitchen was too slow at getting the food out.

2. Blamer Barbie – Blaming it on the kitchen.

Blamer Barbie, once realizing that she forgot to send the order, will proceed to approach the table in an apologetic fashion, informing the guests that the kitchen has somehow”lost” their order, so it will be another little while before their meals are served.  The customers will be slightly irritated at the kitchen staff for their lack of professionalism, but but Blamer Barbie knows that they guys in the kitchen will be none the wiser that she’s placed the blame on them and since they have no interaction with the guest and the diners won’t get up to voice their disapproval, no one will know that she forgot to order their food.  This leaves Blamer Barbie off the hook as long as no one finds out.  The customers finally eat, pay the bill with a decent tip (since they figure it wasn’t Blamer Barbie’s fault that the food arrived later than usual) and leave, perhaps only coming back to the restaurant when they know they’ll have a lot of time to kill.

3. Humble Helen – Explaining the situation to the customers

waitressOnce they realize that they forgot to place the order, Humble Helen will approach the table and excuse themselves for interrupting.  She’ll then explain that she accidentally forgot to order their food and promise that they are doing their best to rectify the error.  She’ll go to the Expeditor and tell them that she fucked up (and talk to the kitchen if need be) in order to try and get the order out as soon as possible.  Humble Helen will then offer to bring them some more bread while they wait and ask if they need a refill of their drinks in the meantime.  Sure, the guests will be a little put off, but they’ll appreciate the fact that their waitress is being honest.  Once they receive their food, they’ll realize that Humble Helen did the best she could in a crappy situation and they’ll appreciate the fact that everything was prepared as fast as possible to compensate for the error. Humble Helen will ask the manager what they can do for the guests (whether it be free coffee and/or dessert) and be overly nice to show the customers that it was not for lack of caring that they forgot to order their food.  The customers will leave feeling like they were not forgotten about and will return because of the honesty of the staff of the restaurant.

There are, of course, exceptions…

Waiters and waitresses will of course react differently in certain situations.  Mistakes will happen where the kitchen somehow loses orders, or technology fails and orders are erased.  That happens, in case you didn’t know.  But you can tell a lot by how servers approach you!  If they seem sincere and they really care about what’s happening, chances are that they are telling the truth.  If ever you’re unsure about what’s going on: ask to speak with a manager.  They should be able to tell you what’s what.

As a server…

You should do your best to treat your customers with the respect they deserve.  The best way to approach this situation is to tell your customers the truth. The honest truth.  If you’re a decent human being and an honest server you’ll feel much better to do the right thing.  Try it out and see what happens.

Think about it…

The Waitress Confessions