Service rules (or does it?)

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JBloggs

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from JB - I was shocked a while back to find innkeepers on this forum and old forum who felt they needed no hospitality experience to operate a B&B. Yes we wear many hats, but we serve people in our homes and that is #1. This article can be used for service in general, I hope we can all glean bits and pieces from it.
Service rules (or does it?)
Those of you who keep a close eye on The New York Times site may have noticed that one particular business blog, "You're the Boss," recently racked up more than 1,000 comments in a short period of time - so many comments that they closed the comments after only a couple of days.
The topic? "100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do (Part I)."
It seems this blogger, Bruce Buschel, is in the process of opening a new seafood restaurant and has been blogging about his experiences along the way. He devised a list of 100 service rules for his new staff and posted just half of them on his blog. The result, as I said, was astounding. Most people felt that Buschel had pretty much hit the nail straight on the head.
I'm going to paste the rules below. Please read them and tell me if you agree with them or not. I agree with almost every one, with the exception of a few that I think would make the server seem a bit impersonal and cold. But I think these skills are sadly lacking in lots of local restaurants.
From "You're the Boss":
1. Do not let anyone enter the restaurant without a warm greeting.
2. Do not make a singleton feel bad. Do not say, “Are you waiting for someone?” Ask for a reservation. Ask if he or she would like to sit at the bar.
3. Never refuse to seat three guests because a fourth has not yet arrived.
4. If a table is not ready within a reasonable length of time, offer a free drink and/or amuse-bouche. The guests may be tired and hungry and thirsty, and they did everything right.
5. Tables should be level without anyone asking. Fix it before guests are seated.
6. Do not lead the witness with, “Bottled water or just tap?” Both are fine. Remain neutral.
7. Do not announce your name. No jokes, no flirting, no cuteness.
8. Do not interrupt a conversation. For any reason. Especially not to recite specials. Wait for the right moment.
9. Do not recite the specials too fast or robotically or dramatically. It is not a soliloquy. This is not an audition.
10. Do not inject your personal favorites when explaining the specials.
11. Do not hustle the lobsters. That is, do not say, “We only have two lobsters left.” Even if there are only two lobsters left.
12. Do not touch the rim of a water glass. Or any other glass.
13. Handle wine glasses by their stems and silverware by the handles.
14. When you ask, “How’s everything?” or “How was the meal?” listen to the answer and fix whatever is not right.
15. Never say “I don’t know” to any question without following with, “I’ll find out.”
16. If someone requests more sauce or gravy or cheese, bring a side dish of same. No pouring. Let them help themselves.
17. Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course. Wait, wait, wait.
18. Know before approaching a table who has ordered what. Do not ask, “Who’s having the shrimp?”
19. Offer guests butter and/or olive oil with their bread.
20. Never refuse to substitute one vegetable for another.
21. Never serve anything that looks creepy or runny or wrong.
22. If someone is unsure about a wine choice, help him. That might mean sending someone else to the table or offering a taste or two.
23. If someone likes a wine, steam the label off the bottle and give it to the guest with the bill. It has the year, the vintner, the importer, etc.
24. Never use the same glass for a second drink.
25. Make sure the glasses are clean. Inspect them before placing them on the table.
26. Never assume people want their white wine in an ice bucket. Inquire.
27. For red wine, ask if the guests want to pour their own or prefer the waiter to pour.
28. Do not put your hands all over the spout of a wine bottle while removing the cork.
29. Do not pop a champagne cork. Remove it quietly, gracefully. The less noise the better.
30. Never let the wine bottle touch the glass into which you are pouring. No one wants to drink the dust or dirt from the bottle.
31. Never remove a plate full of food without asking what went wrong. Obviously, something went wrong.
32. Never touch a customer. No excuses. Do not do it. Do not brush them, move them, wipe them or dust them.
33. Do not bang into chairs or tables when passing by.
34. Do not have a personal conversation with another server within earshot of customers.
35. Do not eat or drink in plain view of guests.
36. Never reek from perfume or cigarettes. People want to smell the food and beverage.
37. Do not drink alcohol on the job, even if invited by the guests. “Not when I’m on duty” will suffice.
38.Do not call a guy a “dude.”
39. Do not call a woman “lady.”
40. Never say, “Good choice,” implying that other choices are bad.
41. Saying, “No problem” is a problem. It has a tone of insincerity or sarcasm. “My pleasure” or “You’re welcome” will do.
42. Do not compliment a guest’s attire or hairdo or makeup. You are insulting someone else.
43. Never mention what your favorite dessert is. It’s irrelevant.
44. Do not discuss your own eating habits, be you vegan or lactose intolerant or diabetic.
45. Do not curse, no matter how young or hip the guests.
46. Never acknowledge any one guest over and above any other. All guests are equal.
47. Do not gossip about co-workers or guests within earshot of guests.
48. Do not ask what someone is eating or drinking when they ask for more; remember or consult the order.
49. Never mention the tip, unless asked.
50. Do not turn on the charm when it’s tip time. Be consistent throughout.
from JB - (Don't agree with #7, a server should always introduce themselves, same with innkeepers, always)
 

gillumhouse

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I think it is a pretty good list. I also gree tht I DO want a name, not hyperactive perky with it, just the name. How else do I know who to compliment or complain about? Our server at teh OG Friday was sooo good that Socks & I made sure we complimented her and "somehow" the manager managed to find our table (we would have asked for her if she had not "found" us) and we sang praises again.
 

JBloggs

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There is a waiter at our corner restaurant that we now ask for by name. I have let the owner know as well, that he is the best server we have found there. What does he do? Just his job. Very simply, he is pleasant and does his job. Doesn't plop down in the booth next to you to be your new best friend, doesn't interrupt incessantly every 5 minutes.
Other times we have been there, plates never cleared, waters never refilled, have to wait 15 minutes to try to ask for the check, one time our waitress was having a domestic with her boyfriend the cook and never came back, another time the waitress had scabs and pick marks all over her arms as she placed the food before us. Mmm appetizing!
Be professional, serve what we ordered HOT, be available and SMILE.
But actually this post was to pertain to how WE serve our guests - I digress...sorry.

 

wendydk

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Saying, 'No problem' is a problem.
I could not agree more...and I also DESPISE being addressed as "you guys", whoever I'm with. I'm not a guy, don't call me one. When training staff at the hotel, this was the biggest habit to break the young help of. However, customer service scores went way up after they learned to say "How are you ladies" or "How are you folks today" instead of "how are you guys?" or "what can I get for you guys".
UGH, I hate that.
 

egoodell

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You can't steam the lable off a wine bottle anymore. They changed the glue MANY year ago. It will just disolve. The only way you can get them off now is to get a special tape that literally rips it off. This fellow is in the dark ages on some of his stuff.
Riki
 

seashanty

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i saw this article.
good points. but i disagree with some.
i have seen people in a restaurant, (or at table in the b&b) who do not stop talking when they see the server or me standing there waiting for 'the window' to speak. sometimes you have to excuse yourself and say something ... you DO have other things to do and, for some reason, some customers seem to deliberately ignore the server. why?
i like being told the waitress/waiter/server's name. i'd rather call over to jim or jane than 'oh miss' which 'miss' am i trying to get ahold of when i don't have a spoon for my soup? and if i like that server, i sometimes will ask before being seated if he/she is on today and can i sit in his/her section.
i also like being told the server's favorite things. i don't see what's wrong with doing that. but it's not my restaurant the author is writing about.
 

JBloggs

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Saying, 'No problem' is a problem.
I could not agree more...and I also DESPISE being addressed as "you guys", whoever I'm with. I'm not a guy, don't call me one. When training staff at the hotel, this was the biggest habit to break the young help of. However, customer service scores went way up after they learned to say "How are you ladies" or "How are you folks today" instead of "how are you guys?" or "what can I get for you guys".
UGH, I hate that..
Little Blue said:
Saying, 'No problem' is a problem.
I could not agree more...and I also DESPISE being addressed as "you guys", whoever I'm with. I'm not a guy, don't call me one. When training staff at the hotel, this was the biggest habit to break the young help of. However, customer service scores went way up after they learned to say "How are you ladies" or "How are you folks today" instead of "how are you guys?" or "what can I get for you guys".
UGH, I hate that.
That is the favorite term for all o/s work visa'd servers 'Guys, how are you today?' 'Anything else guys?' I do not know who taught them that was the American way to talk to your customers...but they all do it.
 

Morticia

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i saw this article.
good points. but i disagree with some.
i have seen people in a restaurant, (or at table in the b&b) who do not stop talking when they see the server or me standing there waiting for 'the window' to speak. sometimes you have to excuse yourself and say something ... you DO have other things to do and, for some reason, some customers seem to deliberately ignore the server. why?
i like being told the waitress/waiter/server's name. i'd rather call over to jim or jane than 'oh miss' which 'miss' am i trying to get ahold of when i don't have a spoon for my soup? and if i like that server, i sometimes will ask before being seated if he/she is on today and can i sit in his/her section.
i also like being told the server's favorite things. i don't see what's wrong with doing that. but it's not my restaurant the author is writing about..
Every person on the waitstaff should taste everything on the menu. I don't really need them to tell me what they like, but I really appreciate it when they tell me, 'I wouldn't order that,' not because they don't like it but because it just did not cook up right that particular day. (Or, if the fish order didn't come in and you're getting 'old' fish.)
 

Morticia

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I think I posted the link to this somewhere else. Has the second half of the list come out? The 51-100 section?
 

JBloggs

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i saw this article.
good points. but i disagree with some.
i have seen people in a restaurant, (or at table in the b&b) who do not stop talking when they see the server or me standing there waiting for 'the window' to speak. sometimes you have to excuse yourself and say something ... you DO have other things to do and, for some reason, some customers seem to deliberately ignore the server. why?
i like being told the waitress/waiter/server's name. i'd rather call over to jim or jane than 'oh miss' which 'miss' am i trying to get ahold of when i don't have a spoon for my soup? and if i like that server, i sometimes will ask before being seated if he/she is on today and can i sit in his/her section.
i also like being told the server's favorite things. i don't see what's wrong with doing that. but it's not my restaurant the author is writing about..
Every person on the waitstaff should taste everything on the menu. I don't really need them to tell me what they like, but I really appreciate it when they tell me, 'I wouldn't order that,' not because they don't like it but because it just did not cook up right that particular day. (Or, if the fish order didn't come in and you're getting 'old' fish.)
.
Just as an fyi most wait staff even if they stick around a long time have not tried most things on the menu. Asking them is really a waste of time. In fine dining, the Chef will bring out the special of the day and allow the servers to see and taste it so they can explain it and recommend it.
 

seashanty

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yes, it's from the new york times. 100 things restaurant staffers should never do. they're going to publish the second half 'next week'
but please SAVE ME from a restaurant that takes all the personality out of the waitstaff. don't say this, say that. i like a little of the personality to shine through ...
yes to clean glasses and proper etiquette, yes to handling the food with care, clean smoke-free hands, yes to attention and great service
no to no personal names, no personal opinions. boooo
if i go to a restaurant and have a nice meal and the waitress (with a NAME) says 'would you like to see our dessert menu today?' and i say 'no, i don't think so' and she says 'are you sure? the chocolate pie is to die for!' you don't think i might be tempted?
my choice. i can enjoy snooty. unobtrusive. blend into the background service. i can also enjoy goofy. friendly. y'all come back now, ya here?
 

JBloggs

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Next week: 51-100.
I think the main thing is crappy service is crappy service, If the server had a friendly welcoming attitude you could get over them pre-bussing a table. Interrupting. Forgetting something. If they could pull it off they could pull it off.
So back to US and what we do ...
Do we provide good service? Or is our service lacking and it is just okay because we are serving complimentary breakfasts? Is it okay for us to bang into chairs when we remove plates? Is it okay for us to chew gum while serving? Should we also be professional in our appearance and style? Hair pulled back when there is food around?
 

Morticia

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i saw this article.
good points. but i disagree with some.
i have seen people in a restaurant, (or at table in the b&b) who do not stop talking when they see the server or me standing there waiting for 'the window' to speak. sometimes you have to excuse yourself and say something ... you DO have other things to do and, for some reason, some customers seem to deliberately ignore the server. why?
i like being told the waitress/waiter/server's name. i'd rather call over to jim or jane than 'oh miss' which 'miss' am i trying to get ahold of when i don't have a spoon for my soup? and if i like that server, i sometimes will ask before being seated if he/she is on today and can i sit in his/her section.
i also like being told the server's favorite things. i don't see what's wrong with doing that. but it's not my restaurant the author is writing about..
Every person on the waitstaff should taste everything on the menu. I don't really need them to tell me what they like, but I really appreciate it when they tell me, 'I wouldn't order that,' not because they don't like it but because it just did not cook up right that particular day. (Or, if the fish order didn't come in and you're getting 'old' fish.)
.
Just as an fyi most wait staff even if they stick around a long time have not tried most things on the menu. Asking them is really a waste of time. In fine dining, the Chef will bring out the special of the day and allow the servers to see and taste it so they can explain it and recommend it.
.
It is so different here. Almost every place we go to eat the servers have all tried the menu and the specials. Or else they lie about it. I'm not talking fine dining either. I'm talking the pizza joint down the street. The 'American' fare place across from them. The nicer Italian place next door. Even what would be considered the pubs and family dining.
A lot of them (if they're old enough) have also tasted the wine menu and the beer selection. But that's not always the case. We've had servers tell us they just don't like beer or wine so they really can't tell us if something is particularly 'flavorful' when the seasonal beers come out.
That's been my experience here and in VT. I think a lot of the servers just look at it as free dinner, whereas the owner is hoping they can make an informed reply to the diner who asks a question.
Again, just a different area and experience.
 

Morticia

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Next week: 51-100.
I think the main thing is crappy service is crappy service, If the server had a friendly welcoming attitude you could get over them pre-bussing a table. Interrupting. Forgetting something. If they could pull it off they could pull it off.
So back to US and what we do ...
Do we provide good service? Or is our service lacking and it is just okay because we are serving complimentary breakfasts? Is it okay for us to bang into chairs when we remove plates? Is it okay for us to chew gum while serving? Should we also be professional in our appearance and style? Hair pulled back when there is food around?.
I totally agree we should hold ourselves to higher level of service than if it was all family at the table! But not so high the guest is confused as to what happened to the happy-go-lucky innkeeper who was just chatting about Fawlty Towers but is now very professional.
I guess this means I have to stop yelling from the kitchen, 'Joe, would you like some juice?'
 

JBloggs

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i saw this article.
good points. but i disagree with some.
i have seen people in a restaurant, (or at table in the b&b) who do not stop talking when they see the server or me standing there waiting for 'the window' to speak. sometimes you have to excuse yourself and say something ... you DO have other things to do and, for some reason, some customers seem to deliberately ignore the server. why?
i like being told the waitress/waiter/server's name. i'd rather call over to jim or jane than 'oh miss' which 'miss' am i trying to get ahold of when i don't have a spoon for my soup? and if i like that server, i sometimes will ask before being seated if he/she is on today and can i sit in his/her section.
i also like being told the server's favorite things. i don't see what's wrong with doing that. but it's not my restaurant the author is writing about..
Every person on the waitstaff should taste everything on the menu. I don't really need them to tell me what they like, but I really appreciate it when they tell me, 'I wouldn't order that,' not because they don't like it but because it just did not cook up right that particular day. (Or, if the fish order didn't come in and you're getting 'old' fish.)
.
Just as an fyi most wait staff even if they stick around a long time have not tried most things on the menu. Asking them is really a waste of time. In fine dining, the Chef will bring out the special of the day and allow the servers to see and taste it so they can explain it and recommend it.
.
It is so different here. Almost every place we go to eat the servers have all tried the menu and the specials. Or else they lie about it. I'm not talking fine dining either. I'm talking the pizza joint down the street. The 'American' fare place across from them. The nicer Italian place next door. Even what would be considered the pubs and family dining.
A lot of them (if they're old enough) have also tasted the wine menu and the beer selection. But that's not always the case. We've had servers tell us they just don't like beer or wine so they really can't tell us if something is particularly 'flavorful' when the seasonal beers come out.
That's been my experience here and in VT. I think a lot of the servers just look at it as free dinner, whereas the owner is hoping they can make an informed reply to the diner who asks a question.
Again, just a different area and experience.
.
They lie about it.
Okay #1 - the kitchen is not a kitchen for the staff. They are not hired to cook for the staff, but for the customers.
So there are a few options offered in most instances = they can get 50% off the meal - which is still above the pocket book for most of the staff, they will eat at McD's or at home or bring a snack. Or the kitchen cooks up a staff meal - which everyone can eat before their shift starts, this is most typically not the food found on the menu. If the chef cooks the special he does not make 15 of these, he puts one out for everyone to sample. To see how it is presented etc. So they can describe it to their customers.
If you serve food day in and day out you can see how it is prepared and how your customers like it and you can say "This is a great dish!" doesn't mean you have eaten it. Does that make sense?
 

JBloggs

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Next week: 51-100.
I think the main thing is crappy service is crappy service, If the server had a friendly welcoming attitude you could get over them pre-bussing a table. Interrupting. Forgetting something. If they could pull it off they could pull it off.
So back to US and what we do ...
Do we provide good service? Or is our service lacking and it is just okay because we are serving complimentary breakfasts? Is it okay for us to bang into chairs when we remove plates? Is it okay for us to chew gum while serving? Should we also be professional in our appearance and style? Hair pulled back when there is food around?.
I totally agree we should hold ourselves to higher level of service than if it was all family at the table! But not so high the guest is confused as to what happened to the happy-go-lucky innkeeper who was just chatting about Fawlty Towers but is now very professional.
I guess this means I have to stop yelling from the kitchen, 'Joe, would you like some juice?'
.
Bree said:
I totally agree we should hold ourselves to higher level of service than if it was all family at the table! But not so high the guest is confused as to what happened to the happy-go-lucky innkeeper who was just chatting about Fawlty Towers but is now very professional.
I guess this means I have to stop yelling from the kitchen, 'Joe, would you like some juice?'
Who says happy go lucky is not professional? It certainly can be and should be. Service with a smile, interaction, , knowledgeable, this is hospitality. Don't assume professionalism stuffy boring rude service, that is the opposite of what I am saying. That is where we need the rest of the list 51 to 100. No one is saying do not have a personality. Have a big personality! People love that!
But don't chew gum, have your hair hanging over the plates of food, pull a wedgy out of your drawers. (Just added that to see if you were really reading) tee hee
 

Morticia

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Next week: 51-100.
I think the main thing is crappy service is crappy service, If the server had a friendly welcoming attitude you could get over them pre-bussing a table. Interrupting. Forgetting something. If they could pull it off they could pull it off.
So back to US and what we do ...
Do we provide good service? Or is our service lacking and it is just okay because we are serving complimentary breakfasts? Is it okay for us to bang into chairs when we remove plates? Is it okay for us to chew gum while serving? Should we also be professional in our appearance and style? Hair pulled back when there is food around?.
I totally agree we should hold ourselves to higher level of service than if it was all family at the table! But not so high the guest is confused as to what happened to the happy-go-lucky innkeeper who was just chatting about Fawlty Towers but is now very professional.
I guess this means I have to stop yelling from the kitchen, 'Joe, would you like some juice?'
.
Bree said:
I totally agree we should hold ourselves to higher level of service than if it was all family at the table! But not so high the guest is confused as to what happened to the happy-go-lucky innkeeper who was just chatting about Fawlty Towers but is now very professional.
I guess this means I have to stop yelling from the kitchen, 'Joe, would you like some juice?'
Who says happy go lucky is not professional? It certainly can be and should be. Service with a smile, interaction, , knowledgeable, this is hospitality. Don't assume professionalism stuffy boring rude service, that is the opposite of what I am saying. That is where we need the rest of the list 51 to 100. No one is saying do not have a personality. Have a big personality! People love that!
But don't chew gum, have your hair hanging over the plates of food, pull a wedgy out of your drawers. (Just added that to see if you were really reading) tee hee
.
I was going by the list...if you're chatty (as we are), if you're doing the things we normally do, they don't fit in with this guy's list of professional service traits.
I would certainly never get hired at his restaurant, but guests seem to like the atmosphere here. Casually professional. Everything, including me, is neat & tidy & clean. And I DO try to not talk while I am carrying food.
 

gillumhouse

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yes, it's from the new york times. 100 things restaurant staffers should never do. they're going to publish the second half 'next week'
but please SAVE ME from a restaurant that takes all the personality out of the waitstaff. don't say this, say that. i like a little of the personality to shine through ...
yes to clean glasses and proper etiquette, yes to handling the food with care, clean smoke-free hands, yes to attention and great service
no to no personal names, no personal opinions. boooo
if i go to a restaurant and have a nice meal and the waitress (with a NAME) says 'would you like to see our dessert menu today?' and i say 'no, i don't think so' and she says 'are you sure? the chocolate pie is to die for!' you don't think i might be tempted?
my choice. i can enjoy snooty. unobtrusive. blend into the background service. i can also enjoy goofy. friendly. y'all come back now, ya here?.
There was a restaurant in Chicago owned by a football player (I do not know if it is still there either and cannot remember the name to check) that the waitstaff was supposed to be gum-cracking, softly insulting, 50s carhop types and I think they were on roller skates. It was a hoot and people went there BECAUSE of the way the waitstaff were. THat was its shtick. I took someone there once and I remember it was packed with a waiting line.
 

Skamokawa

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Well, as innkeepers we have probably already introduced ourselves at check in.

I do have a first name only nametag for my apron. And we do sometimes allow friends of our guests to come for breakfast only.
We are the cooks and the servers, so are unlikely not to have the answer to a guest's questions. As I read the list, I was mentally agreeing with almost all, and thinking "I hope the wine bottle is clear of dust before presented to a guest". They certainly are here. As I read, I mentally was checking my own performance against the 'rules' listed . Good service should be practiced in all restaurants. Most of the listed rules seem common sense that would be applied by anyone waiting tables. But how to train people who need to learn the skill? Good service is primarily concern for someone else's well-being, and paying attention to what they need. Maybe the article addresses that too?
-KathleenM
 

Don Draper

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I think it's mostly good points, but it's all geared to fine dining. You're not going to get anywhere close to this in any chain restaurant or local hole in the wall...you're going to get any available high school or college student who will be there a max of 2 years.
I don't care to know my server's name, even if they tell me I'm not going to remember it. Please just refill my drinks when you see they are empty and stop back one to ask if I need anything else. It's so hard to even get that anymore.
 
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