Crappy Servers, Who’s To Blame?
Crappy Servers, Who’s To Blame?
Oh those pesky crappy servers! How have we gotten to be so bad?
We front of housers don’t have the best reputation, do we? But, it’s not really our fault, not really.
Well then, who’s fault is it and how did “they” do it to us?
What do I even mean by crappy servers?
There are high expectations of our profession from the public and our employers and not many servers are delivering on that expectation.
Let’s ask ourselves a question:
Who are the real leaders of the restaurant industry and why? Who seems to be in vogue and in the spotlight lately?
Who are the people pushing for recognition in the restaurant industry? Who are the ones spending time training for perfection and knowledge?
Waitresses. Waiters. Restaurant managers.
*ahem…did I say waitresses, waiters and managers?
I didn’t mean to.
But, it is time we did. But unfortunately, we can’t do it alone.
No way. Someone has to step up.
I (I as in me as a server), was recently called “a dime a dozen” by a very respected chef.
You see, people in the restaurant industry (and outside of the restaurant industry), don’t think very highly of the profession of server or restaurant manager.
Why would they?
There are a million servers and restaurant managers in this country, but whether you receive great service when you go out to eat is still an absolute crap shoot.
Consider this real life scenario: when someone dreams of starting a restaurant they usually dream about the food they will serve and the look and feel of the restaurant. They daydream and give effort to all aspects of the restaurant, except service.
They are sure their restaurant will provide great service…they just don’t understand how.
But they don’t worry about those pesky details.
And why should they? Servers know how to deliver great service, right? After all, it is our job!
So, when it comes time to hire the wait staff they think “I’ll just hire a bunch of servers…experienced servers, and that will be that.”
And that is that…until the reviews come in.
And the complaints.
And the incompetence.
And the laziness.
So, they fire some of their worst servers.
And hire new “experienced” servers.
We’re a dime a dozen, right?
When it comes to waitstaff, people tend to consider the word “experienced” to be synonymous with “great,” “knowledgeable”,” “hospitable,” or “excellent”. But the truth is, often experienced just means very efficient at not doing things great.
So, the restaurant gets more complaints.
And things get even more unorganized.
The “restaurant decision makers” begin to trust their service team less and less. Why should they trust them? They suck! F’n servers. Arg! I hate servers!
Since it’s up to the servers to deliver great service and they are not delivering, the owner (or restaurant decision maker) will begin to believe that giving the servers fewer tables will make the servers give better service. That should do the trick.
Now the servers can focus more of their attention on fewer guests. That makes sense.
The problem is, it doesn’t work.
Anyone who has been in the restaurant industry for any amount of time will quickly tell you, the slow nights are when a lot of things go wrong. The shifts where you have more than enough bodies to get things done are the shifts when nothing gets done.
So, now you just have more servers on the floor. That means your labor costs go up.
Oh wait! You only pay $3+ for servers per hour so it’s no skin off your labor costing back. You can afford the paltry amount it takes to keep more servers than needed.
Except you haven’t really done the math. If you had you would realize that the paltry amount it takes to keep more servers than needed will amount to thousands of dollars each year.
But you don’t need it. You are loaded. That must be why you are always in such a great mood and beaming with that stress free attitude!
For everyone else, read on…
The restaurant ends up making less money and the servers are making less money, all because they aren’t trusted to wait on more tables. (Which is probably a fair assessment because no one has actually trained them on how to be efficient while still providing exceptional service. Anyway the servers should already know how!…it is their job.)
So, service doesn’t get any better.
And now everyone is unhappy: owner, servers and customers.
So, the guests stop coming.
The servers begin to quit.
Now you run a low volume, high turn-over restaurant which gives you even more problems: you must find more servers, interview them and train them (train them what exactly?).
You are at your wits end! So you turn to your Front of House manager, “hey manager! What is going on with the service?”
“It’s hard to find great servers,” the weak manager that doesn’t know how to train servers laments. “How can I have a great service team with these servers?”
But, servers are a dime a dozen! You should be able to find some more experienced ones!
Hire. Fire. Hire. Quit. Yell. Anger. Fire. Hire. Mad. Complaints.
Time to fire the manager! S(he) was useless!
Where does the buck stop?
With the servers.
But is this wise? Yes, servers should be better. But, the problem is this:
There are few servers who are trained how to be exceptional.
Have you trained your servers? I mean, beyond “here’s the computer, here is expo, up-sell from well spirits to premium, don’t get in the owners way, here is where the dumpster is, blah-blah-blah and bull-shit and more bull-shit and blah-blah-blah.”
It seems that no one actually trains servers, yet everyone expects them to be awesome.
I mean, fricken awesome.
I mean, fricken knowledgeable.
Awesome, knowledgeable servers are a rare commodity.
Restaurants that know how to deliver great service are a rare commodity too.
But why? As many rude-ass people point out “serving isn’t rocket science.” Which is true. It doesn’t take years of intense training to become a great server.
Or does it?
Oh shit, what if it does take years of intense training?
You don’t have years! You need to provide better service NOW!
What do you do?
This scenario is not a rare one and it is a slippery slope!
It’s a catch 22.
- you can not expect to have great servers and expect them to only take three tables.
- three tables can’t provide the income that great servers are used to making.
- you can’t increase the table sections because the servers that you have on staff are not trained to handle a bigger load.
- it’s hard to allure excellent servers to a restaurant that is unorganized.
Someone needs to get their shit together for this to begin to become a great service team and it is not going to be the servers.
How could it be? The servers have ZERO control or say. The typical chain of command has made it that way. Now, you, as a restaurant manager or owner, have to deliver.
What is it?!?
It’s a box!
What’s in it?
A plan of action, a service minded brain and a pair of balls to carry it out.
You or a restaurant leader must create a plan of how you will get your restaurant from broken to mended and strong.
Or from okay to excellent.
Or from excellent to superior.
Because the longer you allow your restaurant to be broken, the longer you are a dime a dozen restaurant with dime a dozen servers.
And that is how and why the profession of waitress, waiter and manager has gotten such a bad wrap.
But, you deserve to have an excellent restaurant and you have the ability to create it.
Your servers deserve to be trained to be excellent and to be a part of an excellent service team.
You have the power and the ability to make the right choices for your restaurant.
You just have to get going, create that plan and begin implementing it.
Do it now!
What do you think about this article?
Who’s responsibility do you think it is to create a great service team?
What makes a great service team? Let’s hear your two cents below!
Jennifer, iamWaitress on Google+!
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