What is missing from food service operators is a commitment to systematic training (outside of the fast food industry at least). Most food service training is inefficient. It ends up tying up the time of managers and senior personnel to instruct people who are unlikely to last the month.
Currently, we are only beginning to see the introduction of computer based and interactive multimedia training in the food service industry. The results are very promising, but it will take a major attitude change on the part of food service operators.
The first step is to give up the fantasy that things will get better on their own.
George L. O'Brien - firstname.lastname@example.org
I am sorry I have not been in the business as long as Jack but what I can say for the professionalism of servers in Southern Calf. is that it has progressed more professionally than most other professions. Everyone knows that as a good server in a better than average house you can walk home with a genuine income. It seems today that the servers, bussers, bartenders, sous chefs, etc. are beginning to realize that the majority of Americans make the same, if not less than them. Yes, they are looking out for their own best interest, but long gone are the days of life-long employment at IBM, much less Japan Inc. It is up to the individual operator, store by store, to provide an income and atmosphere which are positive to work in. Those who treat their employees with respect, dignity and worth will always get the cream of the crop. Thank God for poor operators; or there would be a lot more competition out there, and a lot fewer opportunities for us professionals.
In response to your recent article written by Jack Mauro on the state of the service received in our restaurant society today, I was pleased to find someone whose opinions so matched my own. The service that is offered today is by far deplorable and sorely lacking in all areas. As a food service manager for the last thirteen years in a number of different types of food service, I have seen good and I have seen bad. Unfortunately too much of the latter. Mr. Mauro was truly correct in his assessment of the servers of today versus the servers of yesterday. I have stated that I have been in the management field for thirteen years, but I have been in the food business for eighteen years. I guess it's just the select few that take pride in the work that we do and receive genuine satisfaction from knowing that the customers that you just served was pleased with the service they received, and will most likely return for another enjoyable evening.
My question for the folks who cannot fathom why anyone would want a career in the food business is, "why not?" The food business is a multi billion dollar business that so many people depend on day after day, night after night. It makes for the special dinner before the prom, and the mothers day buffet that gets Mom out for the afternoon. So many people depend on the food business to make that special time very special for them. Somehow when a waitress wondering about how her hair looks or wondering if "Bill" will beep her, kind of puts a damper on some families special night. I take pride in no matter what I do, but most especially my job. What I try to instill into my employees is that they should always feel pride in what they do. So on one part of the article I have to disagree. That part being the one that states to the effect that we should somehow try to turn our heads away from the concerns of the personal lives of the employees.
No matter the employee is a student at his\her first job, or a ten year employee that has faithfully came to work day after day, they are still people. People with every day concerns, who deserve respect and to know that their life does matter. That prom in two weeks is as important to them as is the ten year family reunion is to you. That is a once in a lifetime event and it is important, and I know it, and if need be I will step in and work that shift because I want that employee to know that they matter to me. That their lives are important and I am there to help in anyway I can .Do you know what that philosophy in my management has gotten me? A turnover rate of nearly zero, consisting of only having to fire approximately three employees in the last six years. I lose them because they go off to school and for various reasons that leave them unable to work, but they always come back. Sometimes to see how I'm doing and sometimes to say "Thank You." Because I am a caring boss who involves myself in their lives I have accomplished the feat of getting these individuals to take pride in their job as they watch me, and I take pleasure in watching in them ever thing that I have learned come out through them with the ability to honestly want to serve the customers with a great attitude, and be pleasantly surprised when those same customers come back to ask for that same server and be pleased with the fact that they remembered their name. And because I am a caring boss I can always count on any of my employees to be there, ready, and willing to do the job they were hired for, and do it with a smile.
We take pride in the fact that we have numerous repeat customers due to the fact that the owners of the business that I manage strive for customer satisfaction and will not settle for anything less, and as my crew and I serve one after another, I am proud to serve and even prouder to watch my employees take pride in it also. If only all food service managers could find the ability to connect and still stay in charge there would be a great number of satisfied customers in the world today.
I consider myself very lucky to be in the restaurant business today, and hope to one day become an owner myself. Until then, I continue to learn every day and work along and beside my employees as we all try to serve the people with a smile, something that's a little difficult to find nowadays.
Wow, I feel like a carpenter! The nail that Jack was driving has been impaled in my forehead. Being that my family and I will be opening a fine dining establishment in the wine country of Eastern Washington in the near future, these words ring soooooo true. People are the key to your success, whether staff or customers. Gone are the days of the professional waiter. Gone are the days of professionalism in the kitchens of your local haunts. The culinary/restaurant occupations these days are only transitional careers! Too bad! Let's all put as much heart into what is left and make a decisive change in the industry. It's really not that difficult...if you consider yourself and your staff professionals.
I myself have been in the business for a goodly time frame, had a formal prestigious education, and am currently involved in perhaps the worst service nightmare, "The seasonal restaurant."
As the GM for a small resort in Maine it boggles the mind the caliber of staff that are available. This is the hospitality industry, the show business of food. In life we are all actors on a stage creating an illusion, and the dinning experience is to be a brief respite from the world around us.
Our industry requires care-givers, not prima donnas. I for one, prefer to hire the person with no experience, and no bad habits. The one with the genuine smile, a sparkle in the eye, the caring air, and a passion for life. You can tell.
Through the years I have bussed and waited, moved tables and cases of wine, sauteed and washed dishes. And at times still do. Sometimes in the real world this is not enough. You have to hire somebody's, and being blonde might take offence at the remark. But I do also agree that we must fire as a last resort, it sends a message. Our example of being willing to do it all stands as a message. We as the leaders have sometimes forgotten our roots. We must remind ourselves of our favorite dinning experience and what the key elements were. Also theirs, if it has only been Mc Donald's it is a far cry from fine dinning. Put on a show, serve them. I have found it to be the turning point in training. You can see the light come on.
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