Life has a funny way of throwing us curve balls. Things never seem to go as planned or as we hoped. It’s understandable that we would become discouraged or upset when this happens and take our problems to work.
“I’m going to speak with Sheila when I get to work, she is always good with things like this”, you may say. You get to work, punch-in and start your shift at the restaurant or customer service desk. As soon as Sheila arrives you start to tell her your problems, diligently waiting for her sound advice.
But what you fail to realize is that phones are ringing, customers are waiting in line and they are getting upset. Upset that the person that should be taking care of them is more focused on their own issues than providing service to the cash-paying customer.
The customers don’t care about our problems, should they?
When has it become acceptable to start or enter into a non work related conversation with a fellow employee when you are “on the floor”?
How can you realize if your guests are in need of something or if their food is waiting under the kitchen heat lamp when you’re talking about your date last night or your favorite football team? The goal of any business is to provide the highest level of service to their customers but how can you, as the business representative, do this if you are not paying attention to your guest!
“Yeah, but I just left my table, they were fine. I refilled their water and bread basket and asked if they needed anything else. What more do you want from me?” you may say.
You must be laser-focused on the customer, from the moment they enter your business until they leave!
Do you think that when some star baseball player is in the batting cage he is BS’ing about the vacation he just returned from? Do you think that when that lead guitarist from the big rock band is on stage he would lean over to his band mate to tell him about the new car he just bought? Do you think that actress on stage at the award show will pull out her cell phone and show us photos of her new puppy? I don’t think so.
How do you think they got to where they are? By taking their job as serious as a heart attack.
By focusing on what they need to get better at and devoting all their efforts to make it happen. By paying attention to the task at hand.
Your task at hand is the customer in front of you.
The customer doesn’t care about your needs or your problems. They only care about their needs.
Who can blame them?
When you are waiting in that long line at the supermarket the day before a big holiday, do you care that the cashier has been standing there for the past 3 hours scanning items and filling bag after bag of groceries?
Heck no, you just want to get out of there. “What’s taking her so long” you are saying to yourself. “I’ve got things to do and don’t feel like spending all day here.”
Well that’s what your guests are saying to themselves as well when they are looking around the restaurant for you. “I want to place my order, where’s the waiter?” “Can’t I get a refill on my coffee, where’s the waiter?” “Come on man; bring back my credit card I want to go home”.
This is what’s happening in the mind of your guest when you are not around and they need you. Don’t get into side conversations with your work buddies, your guests don’t care about that. Don’t complain to your bartender friend about your problems, your guests don’t care about that either.
A few other things your guests don’t care about…
- Your alarm didn’t go off so you overslept and were late for work. Wonder why your boss gave you the worst closing assignments?
- You got stuck at your “other job” so you rushed over here and didn’t have time to shave in between jobs. You look like hell. The customers should not have to be served by some scruffy-looking dude.
- You just had a fight with your boyfriend and are now mad at the world and really don’t want to smile or greet the customers in the normal manner.
- Your car got repossessed and you need to wait for a friend to take you home. She just called you to say she will be really late and that’s going to mess up the rest of your day.
- Your mind is somewhere else because you have a lot of homework to do after your shift and finals are next week.
You may have your own stuff to talk about but not during working hours.
Be professional. Describe a few of the dishes in detail to your guests. Show your guests you know the menu like the back of your hand. They may want to try something different. Tell them about the history of the restaurant. Let them know about any upcoming special promotions planned.
Realize that your guests have their own issues, problems and concerns. They must not be burdened with an inattentive employee too preoccupied to satisfy their needs. Leave your troubles at home; put them in the trunk of your car when you drive to work. Leave them on the bus; close them behind the train doors. Take them anywhere else but never to work.
Be “a person” to your guests, not just “the waiter”. The customer may “like” a waiter but feel a connection to “a person”. Treat them well and they will treat YOU well.
This article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Earn More Tips On Your Very Next Shift…Even If You’re a Bad Waiter”, available on Amazon.com and was originally featured on Hotel F&B Observer Blog.