Food Service Ė The Pros And The Cons.
Not many jobs allow you to waltz in without a degree and make $15.00 to
$20.00+ per hour as a starting rate of pay. Food service is not truly
physically demanding nor is it particularly stressful if done correctly.
With that being said please understand you do have to know what you are
doing. Like any other task, the more you know the easier it is. As with most
other vocations itís also true the more you know the more you stand to
Serving food can be an easy job or a stressful and difficult undertaking.
What it is to you depends entirely upon you. It is what you make of it.
On one hand you want to do the best job possible. That can be stressful. On
the other hand the worst that can happen is you mess up a meal for someone.
To me this is not worth stressing out about. When you exhibit
professionalism and are reasonably proficient at serving, the rare botch job
will generally be allowed to be brushed under the rug. Most people are
reasonable and realize youíre not a machine. Being a human you are bound to
make a mistake once in a while. Just donít make it a habit and apologize for
your mistake in an honest and heart felt manner. Own your mistake; never
blame it on someone or something else. I can attest to the fact that often
the largest mistakes handled well result in excessive gratuities. Even
though a mistake was made by you or another restaurant employee, itís how
you handle that mistake that will show the guest if they were in the hands
of a professional who cares about their work or, someone who merely shows up
to be paid. Be the former not the latter and you will be well compensated
for your efforts.
For the purposes of this writing I am going to assume, rightfully or not,
you are working in a restaurant which is not considered fine dining. Iíve
worked everything from ďturn um and burn umĒ to ďYes Sir, no SirĒ
establishments. On the upper end of the spectrum, fine dining, there is no
need to push your sales. The emphasis is on presentation and guest
satisfaction alone. However in the lesser restaurants, sales are king and
selling more helps yourself and the restaurant alike.
In these restaurants the more tables you serve the more money you make.
Getting people in and out, without rushing them, is important. Increase
sales per guest and decreasing table turn times is how you give yourself a
raise daily. Itís up to you how much you want to make and how much youíre
willing to work is going to directly affect your income.
What Is A Food Server Anyway?
Isnít a waiter or waitress just someone you tell what you want and they
bring it to you? If thatís what you think, Iím happy to be the one who tells
you how wrong you are. While thatís the core duty of a food server, in
actuality there is much more to food service than meets the eye. As a server
you are the PR department of the restaurant; you are what the guests see of
the restaurant and the interaction they have with the establishment. What is
good for the company is good for you. Remember that! A great experience is
what will bring a guest back, without repeat business a restaurant can not
The bottom line is a food server is a SALES position. The more your guests
purchase, the more you make. You make a percentage of what they buy. This is
about the only sales position in which you know the customer is going to
make a purchase of some kind. Itís up to you, without outlandish sales
techniques, to drive the check higher. Suggest an appetizer, suggest a
drink, paint a delicious picture of high priced menu items and suggest a
You are everything to the guest. Without you they can accomplish nothing in
the restaurant, they are dependant on you for their needs. From a drink
refill to managing problems with the food preparation they must have your
assistance to get anything done. At least as far as the guest is concerned
be sure they see you as in their partner, not their adversary. Assist them
instead of being a roadblock.
Choosing A Restaurant
Selecting a restaurant you want to work in is not as simple as it seems. You
really shouldnít simply apply at every restaurant within X miles of your
home. More thought should go into it than that. When do you want to work? If
you want or need to work mornings you should think about breakfast houses.
Working evenings dictates you look into dinner houses.
Even if the shift doesnít matter there are things to think about before
spending your valuable time filling out an application. Would you rather
work for a corporate store or do you find locally owned businesses more
appealing? Is the restaurant new and unproven, which might lead to faster
promotion if thatís what youíre looking for; or would you rather be
somewhere thatís established and has a good customer base? What type of food
do you feel most comfortable serving; Mexican, American, Oriental or
European? Pick restaurants which will provide you with the shifts and
cuisine you want.
Once you find somewhere, if you can afford a meal there dine in the
restaurant and see what the feel of the place is and how the workers appear
to be. Are they working in a way which suits you? Are they calmly serving
their guests with high standards or are they hurried and simply doing the
best they are able with the time allowed? Speak to your server and ask them
what they think about their position, often they will be candid and give you
a wealth of inside information you could not get from simply watching whatís
going on. They can also offer you tips about who to speak to about a
position, what the management is looking for as well as if they are
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