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Stocking is an ongoing process for most items. If you are having to run and re-stock items you are wasting time you should be spending serving your guests. Before busy periods you should be checking to make sure you are going to have the stock you require for the shift. Whatever it may be, get it. I donít care if itís your job or another serverís job, in the end itís going to effect you so make sure the stock is going to be available when you need it. Another area is tableware, plates, glasses etc. Some restaurants have staff to bring these out of the kitchen and some do not. If your restaurant does not, when you leave the kitchen you should have something in your hands to be carried out and stocked. Often you take dishes back to the dish room instead of a buss cart. If this is the case there are usually dishes left in the service area. Not only does this look bad for guests walking by but itís more than likely against your local health code. If you see this, take them to the back even if they are not your dishes in the first place. I assure you the management is aware of whoís leaving them and will speak to them (usually again) eventually. The management doesnít want the dishes there any more than you do and the last thing they want is one more hassle. Do them and yourself a favor and politely put them where theyíre supposed to go.

Before a guest leaves my station and as they are departing, if I happen to catch them, I will thank them for visiting the restaurant. In addition I will let them know I hope they enjoyed their stay and tell them I hope to see them again soon. I have my job due to the fact they, and their friends and relatives, decide to dine in this restaurant. I want them to know I realize this and appreciate their patronage. In the same conversation I will usually hear what they liked about the visit as well as any problems they perceived. I let them know I will pass their thoughts/concerns onto the management and thank them for letting us know. Without these details we donít know what weíre doing right and what we need work on. Of course I do make sure to pass information on to the manager even if I think itís absurd. Who am I to determine what is valid and what is not? That is my coachís job to decipher, the one who sees the big picture of the restaurant.
 
When you are taking orders if you repeat it back to the guest they will have more confidence in your ability to bring them what they ordered. In addition to this I have heard it may even increase your tips. It will also reduce the number of mistakes you make. The customer may order one thing and be thinking about something else entirely. Once in a while itís only when they hear you say it do they realize they have ordered the wrong meal. Anytime anyone says, ďIíll have the same thing as so-and-soĒ Repeat it back to them. My ďlineĒ is, ďJust to make sure, you want the chicken breast, a baked potato with butter and sour cream right? Often when someone says they want the same thing the only similarity I find is that you both want food.Ē It creates a light hearted moment and explains why Iím forcing them to hear the order again.

Do what you say you will do. If you say, ďIíll be right backĒ, be sure you are. If you are going to get more sauce make sure you go straight back to the table with the sauce. Be as good as your word, itís as simple as that. No one likes to be told one thing only to have you do another.
 
Never stand around and chat with co-workers in view of the public. I donít care if they are your customers or not. Those customers may need something and if youíre not doing anything constructive may feel as though you are slighting them by not seeing to their needs. They donít think about you not being their server. All they know is you are A server and should be helping them instead of doing nothing.
 
Never complain to a guest about anything for any reason. The guest has enough problems in their own life. They came in wanting a meal not to play psychoanalyst for you. In all reality most donít truly care what your issues are, they just want you to serve them.
 
If you have an irritated guest it would serve you well to remember this: you donít know what happened to them that day. For all you know they woke up to a note on their wifeís pillow saying she had left them for another man. As they got out of bed they put their feet on the cold remains of the family pet. After they tried without success to start their car and had it towed to the service facility they took a cab to work only to be called into their supervisorís office and were told they were no longer needed, this was their two minute notice to vacate their desk. The carís repairs were more than the car was worth and their refrigerator stopped working which made them come into your restaurant for their dinner. I know itís far fetched, but how do you know it didnít happen. A little understanding goes a long way in the service industry. Concentrate on, talk about and remember the wonderful guests you have and youíll be a lot happier with your job. Most guests are reasonable, polite and genuinely great humans. Let them be your memories of the day. Donít let the grumpy people ruin your day. Happiness is a choice, make the right one.
 
It may be over kill and seem like too much bother Ė until you need it, but, keep a spare shirt and tie in your car. A spare pair of pants isnít a bad idea either actually. Nothing ruins a shift like a stained shirt or tie. Trust me, accidents can and do happen, even to the best of us. Be prepared for the unexpected and that rare instance will make you so happy you did.
 
Never attempt to hide a mistake from anyone, always be willing to fess up to your shortcomings. I assure you your manager will not like it and your guests wonít understand. People arenít as dense and you may think they are and will know itís your fault anyway. People donít like to be lied to. At the same time they often appreciate frank honesty. Just admit to what happened. The worst that can happen if youíre honest is not as bad as what happens when youíre caught being dishonest.
 
There is a guest you know who is always rude and never tips well. Should you give them the same service you give every guest? Yes you should always give good service. Even though you know they donít tip as they should and are rude, they still have a voice with their friends and relatives. For them to say something negative about the restaurant is still something negative about the restaurant. Even though their close friends may not give their words much credence, those who hear may not know enough not to and think your restaurant to be below par when it comes to food or service.

Remember, you rarely truly know who you are talking to. For example, is the lady dining alone doing so because she canít get a date or is it because her husband passed away recently? Is the group of ďobviousĒ convention attendees really un-related to your business or is there something going on in the company and they are in fact upper management of your own restaurant chain. Is the man with the beaver on his head just someone who doesnít know any better or is it your managerís father-in- law who does informal reports of how heís treated and sees you motioning to him and laughing with your co-workers. You never know who has money, you never know who tips well and who doesnít. Here in the southwest itís assumed by many that some never tip well. I have had members of that group tip an almost embarrassingly large amount. You just never know and you canít tell by looking, you canít tell by listening. You only know when the tip is waiting. I always attempt to give service which almost demands a 30-40 percent gratuity, just in case the people are the type who will leave that amount.
 
Never date co-workers. I almost didnít include this as itís personal advice, then, just when I thought everyone knew this little tid-bit two of my workmates broke up. One ended up quitting and the other was so embarrassed they wanted to. Itís flirting with disaster to date at work. Even when you are getting along you run the risk of spending too much time chatting and making management mad. On the other hand I knew a married couple who worked together without a problem. Itís all a matter of how you treat the working relationship. You need to separate the two completely. If you have any reservations about your ability to do so, stay clear of working relationships. There, Iíve put in my two centsí worth.

Always allow guest the right of way. You are there to serve their needs, not the other way around. I go so far as to step as far as is comfortable out of their way to allow their passage. In addition always be aware of your surroundings. Look behind you before you turn around and start walking. Be sure there is no one behind you. One of the worst things you can do is ram a guest with a tray of dirty dishes or drinks! If a guest sees you with a full tray and motions for you to pass, go ahead and do so while thanking them for being so kind. The key here is do as the guest wishes when they make their wants known to you. Once again, you are there to serve them not the contrary.
 
Iíd like to say a few words about ďweĒ and its new found usage in the industry. I donít like the server using ďweĒ when addressing my table. I am a guest and they are an employee of the restaurant. They are not a member of my group and I dislike them using ďweĒ to include themselves in it. ďHow are we doing this eveningĒ, is rude in my opinion. After all I canít comment on how they are doing in the first place. I can only inform them of how I, and possibly my dining guests, am doing. I actually had a manager of the In-front (fake name to protect the guilty) say the following: ďIs there anything we can do to make us enjoy our meal more this evening? We would be happy to do anything we can think of for us.Ē I mean really. Thatís just crazy in my opinion. Address guests as guests and not as long lost friends. How are you doing tonight? Is there anything I can do for you?
 
Serving trays are tough to manage at times. What do you do with them when you are not using them? Are they considered clean surfaces or not? Should you put dirty plates on them? The answer is not easy. They are both and yet should always be treated as if they are clean. I mean to say that you shouldnít ever put a clean tray somewhere you wouldnít put a meal. The floor is no place for a tray, clean or dirty. The guests donít know you plan to clean it before you use it for food service again. All they know is the thing is on the floor. Of course each time you put something dirty on your tray you should clean it prior to putting anything clean on it.
 
Make the guest feel welcome, as if they are a member of your family at your house. Donít ask them if they want another drink, simply get it for them. Make sure they know you appreciate them. Do whatever it takes to wow them and youíll have happy guests (who of course tip better).
 
Donít waste downtime! Anything you can do ahead of time will make the rush easier. If you have a few minutes make sure the restaurant is ready for the next rush. Talking to workmates about what happened last night should be done on your time, not the restaurantís time. You depend on things being ready when you need them. Itís up to you to make sure they will be. Make things easier on yourself and your team mates by stocking.
 
With a ďstandardĒ pilsner glass you can pour a bottle of beer without lifting the glass. Pour to the opposite side of the glass and youíll have great luck. This also impresses guests, they think youíre going to wind up with a glass of foam.
 
Go the extra mile! If a guest asks for change for the newspaper machine outside, donít just bring them change. GO GET THE PAPER FOR THEM!
 
Special orders often make guests feel as though they are being troublesome. If you feel they are right, SWITCH JOBS. Special orders are never a problem! The guest is paying for their meal and should get it as they want it. Show them your willingness to make adjustments to their meal and youíll win them over with your kindness. The bottom line is; they are going to get what they want anyway. You can either make points by doing it without a hassle or cost yourself money by making it seem like itís a bother. How much you make is, as always, up to you.
 
Be a problem solver. If youíre not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem. If other servers donít restock or do ďwhateverĒ, rise above and take it upon yourself to get it done. You are going to make it easier on yourself in the long run and Iím positive management notices who does what and who doesnít do what. You will prosper by doing the right thing. Those who want to do as little as possible will not make the money you make. Remember that! Making the restaurant ready for the rush will make YOU more money. The lazy servers wonít last long anyway and they arenít going to make much money. Just hope they donít give the guests service which makes them not return. If you have to help the lazy ones so you can assure the guestís return. Heck, they may even ask for you on their next visit!

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