We have let the level of service slip in order to accomodate a work force made up of primarily eager, yet most unwillingly hardworking, young people rule the roost we once ruled.
It is a different time now. Peoples priorities have changed. The role of the server in our industry has changed. The guests have changed. The food has changed. With all these changes has come a change in attitude as well, mind you in my eyes it is for the worse.
Our industry(at least in my province...BC) is now a force to be reckoned with. Second only to Mining, Tourism/Hospitality is King here. With such power and influence, one would think we could be more selective in choosing a more professional & skilled work force. Alas, the skills have slipped by the way side to make room for the type of server we love to hate.
With these changes have come too the type of servers that Jack mentioned in his article. The toothy-grinned server with dollar signs in his eyes. This type serves only for themselves, a trait I was told in my early years would get you nowhere. Some how that message got watered down and we are now left to clean up after ourselves for letting this happen. A mess of messes to be sure.
Management's hands are not tied. Product knowledge is key to the re-training of our staff. As is taking a proactive not reactive position in our training of these people. Those that either don't want to re-train or who can't re-train should not be allowed to serve the guest; with out whom we would not have an industry at all!!
I could go on and on about the failings of our industry. I will even go so far as to accept some of the blame for the current state we find ourselves in. I will also make the commitment to clean up my house and deliver quality caring attentive service to each & every guest that walks through my door. Anyone up for the challenge?
I am a new subscriber. I have to say I am impressed by the article "Brave New Order" written by Jack Mauro. I have been in the restaurant industry for almost ten years now. I began as a busser, and have worked my way up through the ranks. My last position held was as a dining room and banquet supervisor. ( Now I am a full time student studying Hotel Technologies and Restaurant Administration). As a supervisor part of my duties included interviewing and training new hires. This is really not a simple process. People think that anyone can wait tables, I'm sorry but they are sadly mistaken.
Not to pat my own back but I have often wondered if I am one of the few,and proud servers left in the world today. i always give 110%, always smile, always listen to the customer, and always try to fix any complaint promptly. And I have always believed the saying that if a customer is satisfied they will tell a friend, if they are not they will tell ten!!!
But to teach this to new people in the industry is nearly impossible. Kids today don't carry the same work ethics anymore (which is really hard for me to say since I am only 26). The service industry is not easy. It requires long hours, and sometimes little pay, and you have to love your job in order to succeed. Which brings up another impossible point to teach people...NEVER gripe about your tip. People tip what they feel your worth, and they can see if your painting a smile on your face, or if its real. They can also see if you are simply trying to be a sales person to up the check. Your tip is always directly related to your SERVICE, and to serve is why your there!
A customer of mine taught me the biggest lesson ever about tips. I was 18 and had only begun waiting tables about two months before. The customer asked me to get him twenty ones from the bar. I looked baffled, but got his ones for him. He said, "This is your tip, you can have all or part of it. Every time you screw up, I will take a dollar or two away depending on how bad you screw up. " And he did. Work for your tip but don't expect one....Try this sometime when you go out and watch the service you get.
In my humble opinion, Mr. Mauro suffers from the proverbial "grumpy old man" syndrome. His feature article on the state of service is little more than paragraph after paragraph of blame and nostalgia. Yeah, I know they don't build things like the used to, but pointing the finger at owners and managers doesn't solve the problem. The vague notion of not being tyrannical or wishy-washy is hardly an acceptable answer. I believe Goldilocks was the first person to come up with "not too hot, not too cold". But as we all know, that's a fairy tale.
Has Mr. Mauro ever been a manager or an owner? Has he had guts to put himself out front and tried to be a leader? Or is he just a back seat driver complaining from a safe distance and crying "I told you so". Has Mr. Mauro ever had to fill an increasing number of positions with a decreasing labor pool?
I suggest that Jack Mauro is a bitter old man with little or no respect for anyone his junior. His complaints sound more like those of people that have never worked in the industry and have little understanding of its demands. I'm the last person to say I have all of the answers. Infact, as I get older, I'm less sure about the answers I DO have. I am sure of one thing. Teamwork accomplishes infinitly more than griping. Perhaps he would be well advised to follow the suggestions most people get from the elders. If you don't have anything nice to say..........
Jack Mauro responds to Michael...
Some of the remarks you level at me are not, however, specious, and my next piece was written to address the failings I saw in my first. Written, incidentally, before I had read any responses. But what I find interesting in yours is that you seem to treat my thoughts in exactly the same, generalized manner you accuse me of plying.
For the record, then: some of the best servers I've worked with have been very young indeed; I have managed, but never owned, restaurants; I believed in teamwork and the almost magical properties of it long before it became a word on a coffee cup's slogan; and an unwillingness to criticize for fear of offending may be suitable for a church social, but has nothing to do with any discussion of the problems in the restaurant industry, as long as the criticism is based on knowledge and presented for a valid purpose.
I own an independent restaurant in North Carolina. The restaurant has been here for 41 years and we have ran it for the past three. I was watching television the other night and as usual was bombarded with commercials for the chain restaurants. However, one caught my eye, and at first I thought it was funny. It was McDonalds touting their personal service to customers and how they want to make their customers visits something special. Even my children thought this was on the hilarious side.
The interesting thing about this is most people know that McDonalds and the other fast-food chains are NOT known for customer service and interacting with the customers. The most you can hope to receive at these chains is, "would you like fries with that?"
The sad point to this whole commercial is the loss of our values concerning the customer. Is this what our customers are expecting, at best a superficial hello or customer service that lacks the word "customer". Have we lowered the expectations that we expect of our wait staffs....and are the customers being brain-washed into thinking that this is service?
Recently, I pulled through our neighborhood McDonald's drive-thru for a burger on the run. My order was taken and I pulled up to the window to find that I was being served by young man with headset on. At first I thought that it was a part of the drive-thru communication system, but finally realized that it was blasting music into his earring pierced ears. I received no hello, no thank-you, and no invitation to return.
This is not service.....this is not what I want my customers to receive at my restaurant. Just as the chain fast-food restaurants have degraded the food industry, I hope that with their current advertising that they don't degrade the service that our field has been known for.
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