Archive for the ‘Customers’ Category

BS: Non-returnable
March 22, 2009

Real conversation between me and my manager. (Love it.)

Janet: “Hey, can you delete the wine special from table four’s bill?  She didn’t like it, so she wanted another glass of Prosecco.”

Manager: (sighs) “Yeah…okay.  I guess so.  I’ll be right over.

Janet: “I mean, we don’t have to.  She ordered it.  Why do we have to refund someone every time someone orders the wrong thing or doesn’t like it?  It’s not our fault.”

Manager: “I know.  It’s like, I didn’t like my taxes this year so do I get to return those?”

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Tomato Sauce IS Marinara Sauce
March 19, 2009

I’m rushing across the kitchen on my way to the other computer terminal, probably rushing to get some table more bread and ring in ANOTHER glass of Beringer White Zin. A co-worker stops me.

“Not so fast Janet, this is YOUR table and you need to deal with it,” she says, flinging a plate of spaghetti with meatballs into my hands.

Another co-worker, holding another plate of spaghetti with meatballs explains: “It’s for table 101. She said she one was supposed to be made with marinara sauce and the other one was supposed to be made with tomato sauce. So she sent these back with us when we went to run your food.”

“They’re THE SAME THING! Come with me, we’re taking these back to 101,” I said.

So we go back, drop off the food, and before this lady has a chance to explain to me why I’m wrong I say, “Maam, here at (insert name of my restaurant) our tomato sauce is our marinara sauce. It’s the same thing. Enjoy your meal.”

She had that open mouth stare going on like she was about to respond, but I walked away.

Sometimes, the customer isn’t right. Sometimes, she’s just dumb. News flash, kids. Tomato sauce is marinara sauce. Check out the ingredients on that bottle of Prego. Right next to high fructose corn syrup you’ll notice “tomatoes” listed. Because Prego is marinara sauce. It’s made of tomatoes…and stuff.

Grarr. Time for me to go run that White Zin and get you some more bread.

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Real Customers of Genius
January 17, 2009

Janet Presents: Real Customers of Genius

Today, we salute you, Mr Verbal Tipper.

(Mr. Verbal Tippppppper)

We all know servers don’t work to make tips. We just want to know we did a great job.

(I just want your approval)

They say money can’t buy happiness. But it can buy a college student booze and books. And your empty compliments can’t buy anything.

(I’M BROKE!)

Oh, you maven of Stepford, you master of Yuppieville. I hope you feel fancy and look rich when you drink White Zinfandel in your polo shirt.

(Let’s just double the tax!)

With any luck, you’ll not only tell me how great I was, but you’ll leave a religious brochure next to that 10% tip.

(But I don’t wanna go to hell!)

So thank you, Mr. Verbal Tipper. Because when a recession hits, you keep my confidence up and my wallet empty.

Here’s to you Mr. Verbal Tippppperrrr


*Inspired, obviously, by Bud Light’s Real Men of Genius*


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Upselling. Imma hustla.
December 28, 2008

Here’s an introduction:

I think that this owner has some helpful tips, and they might work for some people. However, I’ve just been doing this long enough to understand the style of my delivery. And the fact of the matter is this: If I said, “Now don’t forget to save room for some of our homemade Key Lime Pie!!” I would come off like a used car salesman reminding my customers not to forget about the great deal on the lime green Pinto.

Not that I have the top sales in my restaurant, but I think I’m in the top 25% on the mojo score chart and I’ve gotten a lot better over time. Things that work for me…

1. Upselling alcohol

Raspberry martini

Raspberry martini

After I go over the specials (where I include a little aside about the wine menu on the specials card) I try to read how the customers react. If they seem kinda interested, I say, “Now, can I get you ladies something to drink, maybe a glass of wine to start off with?”

  • If they seem like they are kinda looking over the wine list and like they know what they are doing and need a few minutes to decide on wine – I bring them a glass of water in the meantime and take the order later.
  • If they seem interested, but unsure – I ask if they like red or white, sweet or dry, and I recommend something.
  • If two or three people order the same type of wine – I ask if they would wish to share a bottle and usually mention how if is sometimes more economical to do so (and it means a better tip for me because I get to show off those sweet wine presentation skills haha)
  • Great tip: Always try to get the person to order the second glass of wine (or beer, or white russian…what have you) BEFORE the meal comes out. You’re seriously a million times more likely to get them to order that second glass if you pay attention and make the offer before entrees.
  • Think of your own drinks that are not on the menu and suggest them.  This is a pic of a raspberry martini.  It’s Absolut raspberry, Chambord, and sour mix.  (Or try a Cosmo with Absolut Mandarin!)
  • Know the beers on tap! Have at the very least a general idea of all the bottles.
  • If they seem kinda interested in the idea of alcohol, but not wine – talk about martinis and mixed drinks.
  • UPSELLING MIXED DRINKS: Try to learn a few types of Gin, Vodka, Whiskey, Bourbon…ect. Then, when someone orders a gin and tonic you can say, “Would you like that with Bombay or Beefeeter?” For Martinis: “Would you like that with Grey Goose or Absolut?” Make them ask for well.

2. Upselling Appetizers:

tutta-fried-calamari

Usually when I drop off the drinks I offer, “Would you like to snack on an appetizer while you look over the menu?” or “Would you like to nibble on an appetizer while you wait for the rest of your party to arrive? We have really great bruschetta and I love the fried calamari.” Just keep babbling about the appetizers until they seem sorta interested in what you are saying. Then…agree with them and make it sound like it was their idea.

Example:

Me: “Would you like to snack on an appetizer? I personally really love our calamari and the bruschetta is pretty great as well.”

Customer: avoids eye contact and reads menu

Me: “We also have a delicious stuffed mushroom dish…”

Customer: perks up and looks at me, then his wife, then me with anticipation

Me: “I know! Doesn’t that sound good? It’s tender, juicy, a little spicy – it’s stuffed mushrooms!!”

Customer: “We’ll take an order of that!”

So if you can’t interest them in appetizers…take their entree orders. After each individual orders his and her entrees, ask that person if he/she would like to start off with a soup or a salad. If the guest seems to stop for a second to consider it, remind the guest of the soup of the day or of your favorite salad. If they order it (“sure, I’ll take a salad”) offer “just a small house salad?” to get the specific order. This sells your salad because you aren’t making it sound like a big deal. And it’s not – it’s soup or salad. It’s healthy. 🙂

Note: Be honest. At my restaurant, honestly-two people can share a house salad and usually get their veggiefix. So if people ask about your portions sizes, tell the truth. Say it’s big enough to share if it really is big enough to share. Upselling is great, but honesty is better, and people will usually appreciate your help.

3. Upselling Desserts:

delicious5

It’s winter! People are starting to not give a shit about their waistlines. Have your cake and eat it too 🙂

Hand your people a dessert menu as you are clearing their plates. Mention your favorite item and explain why.

Example:

Me: “Do you like chocolate?”

Customer: nods – it’s chocolate, of COURSE they like it.

Me: “Yea, me too! I love the chocolate cake here. It’s a rich, molten chocolate layer cake drizzled with a steamy chocolate sauce, and then it’s served warm with a side of vanilla ice cream. It’s sex on a plate!”

Okay, so maybe that’s not exactly what I say. But you get the point, you gotta entice them. Mention the coffee, the hot tea, the cappuccinos, the lattes, the after-dinner liquors. Assume they want it (because you know they always do; it’s just a matter of if they are willing to spend the money and the calories on it) Make them tell you no.

In Conclusion:

I think it’s all about reading people. You can tell when someone is just not interested in the damn calamari. So don’t push it. Don’t be annoying or presumptuous. But offer an appetizer, a wine, or a dessert. Describe it. If they seem the slightest bit interested – as though they are in some vague way giving the shyest bit of attention to your suggestion – give details. Be sincere. I don’t sell anything I wouldn’t eat or drink myself. If I don’t happen to like the soup of the day, I say so and suggest my favorite soup instead. However, I seriously do love the Mark West Pinot Noir. And the calamari. And the  chocolate cake. I’m just happy to make more money off of your enjoyment of my favorite items.

Photo creds:

http://cheekylotuskitchen.blogspot.com/2007/07/raspberry-martini.html

http://masak-masak.blogspot.com/2005_12_01_archive.html


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Gift Cards!
December 21, 2008

Gift cards! I can’t sleep and I thought I would take the opportunity to express my feelings about gift cards. As you can probably guess, I for the most part despise them. I will explain my top three reasons why gift cards can go to hell, then I will oblige you with an upbeat account of my first great gift card experience.

Top three reasons gift cards can go to hell:

#1. People who tip me on the check total left after they use a $25 gift card.

  • I bring you appies, martinis, and cannolis. You run up a tab of $50. Then you proudly hand me your $25 gift card along with your debit to take care of the rest of the bill. Then you tip me $5 and think you left an awesome tip because you tipped $5 on $25. No, you stupid piece of shit. Just because some secretary gave y0u a gift card for Christmas and you don’t have to pay for that food doesn’t mean that I didn’t do my job of ordering and bringing that crap out to you. So regardless of whether or not you are paying for it, I should still be compensated for serving it. So tip according to the entire tab, before your discount.

#2. Expired gift cards.

  • I had this lady try to use what she thought was a $50 gift card for her meal. I rang it through and it came out to only be worth $45. That’s because it was expired for a few months, and it decreased a couple dollars in value for every month that she didn’t use it. She played stupid (“I didn’t know it would decrease in value!” Really? Because it says so right on the back of the card…so…) and inevitably swindled my manager into honoring the full value of the card. It was a lot of extra work to re-do things in the computer, and it was right before close. And I found it hilarious that they tipped me the exact same as they did the first time we finalized their tab, even after I had stayed late and gone through all that trouble to save them five fucking bucks.

#3. The coupon mentality.

  • People expect special treatment because they have gift cards. I feel like people complain more about their food when they have gift cards because they assume that because it is free for them, it must be free for the restaurant too, so therefore it’s totally cool to return food they deem “not what I was expecting” or “just not to my liking.” So then they get those items comp’d, in addition to whatever gift card discount there is. The restaurant loses money, and I waste my time.

And now, for my great experience. I had a group of ladies come in with gift cards and free birthday dessert passes. Basically, they paid with cash the part of the tab that was left over after the discounts. They handed me the check book, said they didn’t need change, and went on their merry way. They left enough money to cover the tab had there not been a discount – meaning, I got to keep the difference as tip. I think it was like $25, which is awesome.

I don’t even expect people to be extra nice like that – I just expect them to be fair. But when people take the extra steps, it really puts a smile on my face. Maybe that’s the lesson to be learned: That not everyone appreciates the extra effort, the out-of-your-way actions. But when they do – they really do.

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Restaurants and Recessions: A Bitchy Waitress Perspective
December 17, 2008

The post is meant to communicate to the masses the reality of the recession and the restaurant. The reality is? It sucks. Restaurants and recessions go together like water and oil. Like babies and alcohol. Like Bush and boots. This post is not based on any of that credible news information garbage or on true statistics at all. This is my experience.

Despite the expected rush of the holiday season, my restaurant is somewhat of a ghost town most nights. Rows of empty booths line the perimeter of the dining room, with a few random tables sat. The white shirts, armed with our table crumbers and wine keys, stand in a row with our thumbs up our asses, with nothing better to do than to flirt and trade drunk stories from the weekend prior.

And then it happens: Your section is sat.

A deuce. They order waters, share a pizza, then one cup of coffee at the end. They stick around for extra refills for an hour and a half, expecting you not to notice that they are sharing the same damn cup of coffee. They leave you slightly less than 15%, as do the three other tables you have that night. Yet still, you tip out 15 bucks for the two lazy ass teenage bussers (and the one kid that actually does his job) and the creepy table runner – one of those kids you just can’t put your finger on. You walk out with $20, only to notice that your car is on empty on the ride home. $20 gets you 3/4 of a tank and a pack of gum, and you walk into your apartment having just about broken even.

A few weeks ago, our company president made a visit to our location. Nice guy. Great guy. I respect a company president that tries to learn the name of every server. My complaint: a condescending two hour speech about how to serve better and earn more money. I swear to God. Don’t tell me, don’t even insinuate, that I am not doing everything I can to make the best of my situation and earn 20% on every table that walks through those doors. The fact is, times are tough. And if you have to make little cut-backs in your budget, the first thing you will do is cut down on how much you tip some random waitress. It doesn’t matter if I do a lap dance or a magic trick: Some tables are just poor and pissed off and they are taking it out on me. There is nothing I can do to earn more, and I find it insulting for someone to suggest there is.

Restaurants are suffering. Roadhouse Grill got the proverbial 86, and rumor is we are just about sold out of Ruby Tuesdays. I know of a girl who works at a Ruby Tuesdays in Ohio. She was at the top of the sales and tip percentage scores for her store. Then she had to take night classes last semester, so she had to switch from dinner shifts to lunch shifts. It’s lunch: So it’s no wonder that her tip percentages and sales dropped. Formerly at the top of the roster, she plummeted to the bottom 25% – and they threatened to fire her. One of your best waitresses. And you’re going to fire her just to make payroll? That’s cut-throat. It’s a sign of the times.

Yet not surprisingly, Olive Garden prevails. The bitch, the Wal-Mart of corporate restaurants, is still packed with customers looking for tasty Americanized Italian cuisine with unlimited refills for $10.

olivegarden

walmart-evil-2

http://letustalk.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/walmart-evil-2.jpg

My restaurant is a limited liability company, so believe it or not, I’m not in as bad of a situation as I could be. I may be making $15 some nights, but no one is gonna fire me to cut down on payroll.

Something interesting about the business at my restaurant has been the usage of credit card sales vs. cash. My manager pointed out to me that our cash deposits are way up for our week-day sales, but we still have the weekend rush paying with credit cards. Meaning, it seems like if people can’t use cash, they aren’t going out to dinner on a Monday or Tuesday. They are staying home and eating leftovers instead. But they are still going out on the weekends, using credit cards.

I optimistically view this as a positive trend. Sure, it really sucks for me right now. But perhaps people are starting to get honest about what they can afford. They are spending within their means.

It comes down to integrity. I’m not of the age group that deals with the sub-prime mortgage crises, but I am of the credit card variety. I encourage people to get honest and stop swiping. Charging things to make it look like you can afford that meal is a lie. Skimping on a tip to afford that meal is a lie. I personally believe that if you can’t afford a meal with a 20% tip (unless the server does a shitty job) means that you can’t afford to eat at the restaurant that night. I think it would feel so much better to pay cash for a meal and leave a decent tip, knowing that you worked hard and earned that restaurant experience…and that you can afford to recognize the hard work of the server who provided that experience.

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Women.
October 19, 2008

Grr….

So yesterday was an OK Saturday night. I came out with like $120 (after my $26.72 tip out, mind you. A blog-worthy topic in and of itself). But anyway, things were alright, except for my one table that completely stiffed me!

The bill was $81.18. They gave me $49 cash and told me to put $32 on this one lady’s card. So they didn’t give me enough cash, but I decided to absorb the $.18 difference to spare myself the embarrassment of having to explain to three drunk women that they owed me $.18. They told me to “keep the change” – which is ironic, because there wasn’t any!!

I gave them great service. In all likelihood, I could have been looking at a $12-$15 tip. But no. Because they suck.

I told one kid about this, and he told me (and he “swears to God” this story is true) that last week a customer mailed a tip to him. That he got an envelope labeled “To Adam” with 10 bucks in it and a note explaining how sorry they were, that they didn’t have enough money, that they felt terrible about not tipping him. I actually read a post from another blogger that had a similar situation happen.

I honestly don’t think these women intentionally left without tipping me. They were really nice and seemed happy with the service. And it seems like someone who didn’t tip would sneak out really quickly and avoid eye contact and such – but they didn’t. They stuck around to say goodbye.

I’m freaking compassionate. I suck at math when I’m sober – so I can imagine the numerical kerfluffle I’d be in after a few drinky drinks. Maybe it was the cosmos, or the lack of a calculator, but my belief in the good in people leads me to believe this wasn’t on purpose.

But at the same time, I’m not holding my breathe and waiting for a little envelope addressed to Janet.

Cosmos - Good for the mood, bad for the math skills

Cosmos - Good for the mood, bad for the math skills

Blush n Studder
October 17, 2008

So yesterday I had a terrible night, and after making $47 on the lamest closing shift ever, my friend reminds me with sunshiny optimism about why waitressing is so awesome: because of all the cool people you get to meet.

Really?  The down-talking verbal tippers??!  I know, I’m so blessed to have met them.

But today I walk in and immediately get thrown onto a party because some other server “can’t handle it.”  I look across the restaurant and gaze at my prospective table: A fifteen top of collectively, the most attractive group of men I’ve seen ever since I realized that boys didn’t have cooties (which coincidently was only two years ago!  Just kidding…sort of).

So I take them on.  It turns out they are a hockey team – for the farm team to the NY Rangers.  And this would mean something to me if I followed sports.  But I don’t.  So their J Crew shirts and charisma were plenty enough.

But what my friend said is true.  Last year, I met some actors who were in town to do a show called White Christmas at the Geva Theater.  They were really nice, and so interesting.  In all seriousness, it’s fun to meet people who live completely different lives than you.

Finally, a happy rant.  For once, a good surprise.

A future NY Ranger at my table.  Hmmm sigghhhhhhh

A future NY Ranger at my table. Hmmm sigghhhhhhh

OPRAH
October 15, 2008

I’m so excited. I’m sitting here watching Oprah, and she has this show about rudeness in America. She included this awesome segment about people who act rude in restaurants. THANK YOU Oprah for bringing light to an issue that is really important to the restaurant people affected by rude customers.

There was this RUDE girl named Jeni featured on the show, and she completely embodied the typical nightmare customer. Get this: she admitted to yelling at a server for refilling her iced tea because it ruined the “sweetener to tea ratio” of the remaining tea in the glass.  Really?

The show also featured Steve Dublanica, whose blog Waiter Rant is one of the reasons I chose to do this topic for my project.  I’m not gonna lie, there was only so much market research I could do at my PR internship this summer and his site helped me pass the time.

Steve Dublanica, author of Waiter Rant. Google his blog!!

Steve Dublanica, author of Waiter Rant. Google his blog!!

Jeni is the one on the left. At least her sister seems sweet.

Jeni is the one on the left. At least her sister seems sweet.

When I grow up, I’m not going to push my children to do any particular sport, activity, or college major. I will, however, insist that they spend at least a summer working in a restaurant. If people walked a day in our shoes they would learn to be more compassionate, respectful – LESS RIDICULOUS!!!

And as for Jeni: Good luck, girl. I can 100% guarentee there has been spit in your food if you seriously act like that in a restaurant.  Even better – how about spit in that freaking iced tea.  How’s that for a “sweetener to tea ratio?”

Here is a link to my favorite segment on the show: http://www.oprah.com/media/20080909_tows_waiter

Photo creds:

http://www.oprah.com/slideshow/oprahshow/20080909_tows_rude/7

http://www.oprah.com/slideshow/oprahshow/20080909_tows_rude/8

Podcast Project
October 13, 2008

Here is the link to my second podcast assignment. Umm…if you listen to this please don’t laugh. I’m new to podcasting and let’s just say this is a “low-budg amateur” production.

http://fisherjanet.podbean.com/