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: Treat the Kitchen Staff with Respect

Kitchen staff humming #sf
Photo by: Chatherine B.

The other day on Twitter, I wrote a tweet saying:

@waitresslife #servernightmares In the middle of a crazy rush: realizing you forgot to send an order. Nice when you know the kitchen guys..”

It’s wonderful when you can mess up and have the help and support you need to make sure the customers walk away satisfied.  Jessie Gladding wrote replied with:

@WConfessions @waitresslife happened to me yesterday during brunch. For 15 mins I forgot to ring in a medium sirloin; guys got it out in 5!”

Everyone makes mistakes and that’s okay.  It’s where you go from there that really defines you as a person.  So, the next time you think about going up to the chef to bitch him out for an overcooked steak, think twice.  You need to have their backs and treat them with respect if you want it to go both ways.  Treating the kitchen staff with the respect they deserve will not only benefit everyone in the end, it’ll create more of a bond between the back of the house and the front of the house, making the work environment more enjoyable.

What do you think about the communication between the back and front of the house? Tweet us at @WConfessions

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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”.

True Story: An Impossible Demand

This past Sunday, I went in for the lunch shift at the Hot Spot and got a table of 4 people.  They seemed nice enough as I approached them for their drink order, but as time passed I realized that these would be difficult customers to satisfy.  As nice as they were, they were extremely specific (and altogether picky like crazy) about their order and I worried that they may complain about everything from the timing of the service to the quality of the food.

First of all, they wanted their Brazilian Coffees to be hot.  “Put the coffee in the microwave if you have to,” they said.  So that’s what I did.  As much as I hate to nuke things in the microwave, I did what they asked.  The coffee seemed hot enough as I took it out and poured it into a sugar rimmed glass mug.  They didn’t want whipped cream, so I filled it to the top and took it to the table.

I set the coffee down in front of the two people who ordered it.  One of them took a sip right away and said it wasn’t hot enough, so I brought it back to heat it up for a minute and a half.  The coffee was boiling and bubbling, so I told the gentleman to be careful.  He touched the mug and seemed happy with how hot it was.

Then, the woman with the other coffee said (in a very disgusted voice, might I add) “Is there even any alcohol in here?”.  I was a little stunned and told her that I had put the correct amount, but if she wasn’t pleased with it i could get her some more.  “Well, yeah. I mean, there’s no alcohol in here at all.”

I sighed to myself.  Of course there was alcohol.  I’m not going to cheap out on that, but I also can’t make it half alcohol and half coffee (like some people may make at home).  “I’ll get you some more, ma’am.  It won’t be a problem at all,” I reassured her.

Before I could leave and get the alcohol for her, another man at the table told me they were ready to order, so I set down the tray I used to bring the drinks and took out my pad of paper and pen.  Their order was complicated and they were changing things around on the menu to suit their preferences, but I didn’t mind as much since they were the only table in the restaurant.  I also didn’t feel like arguing with them that normally we don’t put ketchup on our burgers.

As soon as I was taking the menus from them and about to walk away from the table, the woman with the coffee said “Excuse me, but is that alcohol coming?”

Cue the crickets.

I didn’t speak for a moment because I was shocked at her question.  I could not believe what she was asking.  How could the alcohol possibly get to the table without me leaving to go order it, let alone get it from the bar.  Did she think I could have sent out a discreet signal to someone to get it right away?  Did she think I could somehow communicate with the bar that she wanted more? How could she possibly think that it could get there if I never even left the table?  It seemed like such a ridiculous question to me.  I guess some people don’t have much common sense in how things work.  It is impossible for me to get something if I haven’t even left the table.  If I could use The Force, I would.  But I can’t.

So I said “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I haven’t even had a chance to leave the table yet, but I’ll get it for you right away.”

“Well, don’t forget it.” She replied.

All I could do was repeat “I’ll get it right away ma’am”.

So I pretty much ran to the bar and prepared it for her and took it to the table.

“How is it?” I asked as she added it to her mug.

“It’s good enough, I guess.” She said.

The rest of the service was pretty much the same way.  Complaints about the soup not being hot enough, the fact that I didn’t bring bread to the table (we only bring bread if the customers ask), asking what we give for free for birthdays and saying a chocolate cake wasn’t good enough, etc.

Every waiter has had customers like this.  And sometimes it’s a little infuriating.  People need to realize that we are only human, we only have two hands, and we are not mind readers.  I really tried my best, and it still didn’t seem good enough.

TIPS FOR CUSTOMERS

Think about what you are asking from a server.  Is your demand physically impossible? If so…then take a moment to maybe rephrase your request.

TIP FOR SERVERS

Try to keep your cool.

The Waitress Confessions

Dear Customers: Taking Pens is Stealing

One thing that you should really know as a customer is that the pens that waiters leave you to sign credit card slips or lend you to write something down belong to the waiter.  They buy them with their own money.  Just because they leave them on the table for you, unfortunately does not mean that they are yours to take if you want.

I need to mention this because a lot of times I leave work with 4 pens missing and end up having to buy a whole new pack at the end of the week.  I have to admit, it’s a bit annoying because those pens belong to me and people feel that they can just keep them for themselves.  The restaurant does not provide the pens for their staff, so the money comes out of our pockets.

So please, on behalf of all wait staff…please do not steal our pens. And if you absolutely need a pen to keep, just ask.

Thank you!

The Waitress Confessions