Saturday, December 8, 2012

Your Waiter Tips You

So I have written a number of posts about my OPPing, so thought it was about time for one about my other job. I'm a waiter at a well known Pizza restaurant if you didn't already know.

This post was inspired by my shift tonight, which was a game of two halves. For the first two and a half hours of my four hour shift, I had lovely customers. For the second two and a half hours, it wasn't so good. (And if you have noticed the deliberate error there, I ended up working an hour longer than scheduled.) So I thought I would give you some tips on how to keep your waiter happy. Happy waiters usually mean good service; annoyed, stressed, unhappy waiters mean that your service won't be as good. And if there is a problem with your meal, I will do more to help you/get you a discount if you are nice to me. Generally, I will point out how to save money, using my knowledge of the menu and deals. But if you are rude, I am much less likely to share these tips with you.

#1 - Being a waiter doesn't mean I'm not a person.

When I come over to your table and cheerily say 'Hi there, how are you? I'm Matt and I'll be your waiter today' I am actually asking how you are. If you just respond with 'I'll have two Pepsis and a large Margarita' then I will mark you down as rude and/or inconsiderate. I like to actually interact with my customers. Saying hello is expected. Asking me how I am definitely puts you in my good books. Using my name shows that you see me as a person, and believe me, you'll get better service.

#2 - Waiters hate waiting.

Technically, I'm not actually a waiter. My job title is 'Team Member', and the company tends to refer to us as 'Servers' rather than 'Waiters'. And trust me, I hate waiting for customers to order. I don't mean that you have to know before you walk in the door what you want. I am more than happy to go and give you a minute or two longer. What drives me crazy is when I ask if you are ready to order, you say yes and then I am stood like a lemon for five minutes while you and your family discuss what toppings you want. I am happy to answer questions, clarify the (admittedly a tad confusing) menus and offers. But if you say you are ready to order, you better be able to list what you want. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that you are my only table, I have lots to do. And I'm sure you don't like waiting, so please don't be the reason that someone else has to wait to be served.

#3 - Order together

When it comes to refills, desserts, hot drinks, please order all together. Don't ask for one refill, and when I bring it over ask for another. Then when I bring the second one over, ask for a straw. These seemingly small tasks soon mount up, and when I have six tables on the go, seconds soon mount up. I once had a table that asked for 6 different things, one at a time, back to back. That is an easy way to ensure you will see little of me again. I am much less likely to come and check on you again, in case you do it again. Order in batches. However, saying 'Could you get me X when you have a minute' means I am much more likely to get it sooner rather than later. Like #1, you are seeing me as a person, not your personal dogsbody. This makes me happy, and I'll want to make you happy.

#4 - Children

If you have children with you, please don't let them run around. This is going to end badly, there have been numerous times where I have almost dropped hot food/drinks on a small child who darts into my path. I know 'children will be children', but I would really prefer not to maim one of them (think of the paperwork!). Also, I know children make a mess. If you really want to make my day, clear up after them. I don't expect spotless, but if you know they have thrown food around please at least pick up the worst of it. The very worst thing you can do is apologise for the mess they have made as you leave, leaving the mess there. What this says is 'I know they made a mess, but I'm not bothered. Someone else will deal with it.' Children can really make a shift if they are funny, cute and/or polite, but if they are spoilt, shouting and screaming (I'll allow babies that) and running around, it just stresses me out.

#5 - The Customer isn't always right

The old adage is wrong. The Customer isn't always right. Set meals are set. Not you can't change it. Yes, that starter you want is the same price as the one in the set menu, but you can't have it instead. IT'S A SET MENU. Argue all you like, I'm not going to change it, set means set. And if you ask to see the manager, I will tell them what you are trying to do before they go over, and trust me, 99% of the time they are going to back me up. I'm not trying to be awkward, I am following the rules that get handed to us by Head Office.

(However, if follow the tips, treat me as a human being, and I'm having a good day, I might be able to 'see what I can do' and 'have a word with the kitchen'. But this is rare.)
And throwing a strop won't get you better service. I will do the bare minimum, I don't want to bend over backwards to help someone who is rude, inconsiderate, argumentative. I will be professional, but that is it. I'm going to spend more time looking after the tables who say please and thank you, who smile, who get that I am busy, and they aren't the centre of my world.

#6 - I like compliments

I once got told I was the best server a customer had ever had. You can't believe how happy that made me. We are all too quick to point out things that are wrong, to complain. But are we as quick to point out good things, to tell a manager that you have had a good time? Maybe it is the rarity of these things that make them so special, but boy do they make a difference.

I could go on and on. Maybe I'll do a second part to this one day. But if you take note of these next time you go out, you'll make your waiter's day, and you'll get better service. Try it, let me know how it goes.

I'd like to hear from you - comment on here, on Facebook or on Twitter

What is the best/most memorable service you have had?
Fellow Waiters, what tips would you add?

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