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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 profit.
 
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 succeed.

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 desert.
 
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 currently hiring.

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