Whew, it’s over. A four-day Valentine’s weekend is like winning Gold at the Olympics. From comments received from around the country these past days helped everyone gain a better financial footing on what appeared to be a slow month. From the looks of the restaurants in San Francisco last evening, and yesterday afternoon, owner’s slept well last night.
Except of course, the owners that received complaints on service. Nothing is worse than having it brought to your attention that the food was great but the service was awful. And there is only one person to blame for that- the owner.
Unlike having bad food and great service- the chef takes the fall for that combination- owner’s are the only ones responsible for service that lacks professionalism. And, training, constant training and reminding, is the only thing that can turn a poor wait person into a service-oriented-star.
It seems ironic that when restaurants open, service is usually up to par or close to it. But, after weeks or months at the nightly task of serving food, service frequently suffers taking a downward turn. And today´s customer noticed that immediately.
The reason for the erosion is simple and it has happened to all of us. A server is doing a poor job and the decision has been made to replace her. A new server is hired and asked to trail another, more professional wait person for three shifts. The old server, realizing it is just a matter of time before she gets the boot, sees the new server training, gets upset and walks out in the middle of her shift. Immediately, the training server is put on the floor, picks up the tables from the now vacant section and her training has ended. She is suddenly on the front lines of a busy restaurant without having any knowledge of what she is supposed to do.
And, that may have been the best decision to make at the time. But we all know she will never trail again because she has the taste of her own tables. And once you send someone to Hollywood on American Idol, it doesn´t sit well when they find themselves back in Des Moines.
Making matters worse, months later, when the new wait person isn’t performing tasks the way everyone likes, you know she will find herself being reprimanded by the manager and the search will begin for a new server.
The scenario is ridiculous but it happens daily in great restaurants across the country. However, we wouldn’t expect anyone to come to work in any organization without proper training. Yet, in small unit companies, we often look at service training as something that happens only once or twice in the very beginning of an employee’s career.
The difference between large corporate chains, that are growing like Fiddlehead Ferns in a Vermont forest, and the small multi-unit or single unit operator, is the service factor.
The hours that the staff of a Cheesecake Factory are trained, and then retrained, is monumental. And, this is not to say that your training has to be formal, in a class structure at Billy Bahama University. But it should be constant and consistent, frequent and friendly.
Nightly at your wait staff meeting, highlight one thing that you want the wait staff and the bussers to remember. Go through the exercise. Role play. Show the staff how you expect it to be done and in a matter of a few meetings you will see an improvement in not only service, but in the staff´s attitude.
Good training helps to keep a staff polished and fresh. And with your sharing of knowledge you will gain their respect and appreciation. Remember, true professionals look towards gaining knowledge and experience.
It helps them when they get to Hollywood.