Category Archives: Service Professionals

You aren’t simply staff, you are chosen to be the front line of contact and support. The most valuable asset to any army.

A Show of Hands

Hands put over another, palms down.

Hands put over another, palms down. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I believe that you will find that many of these “nuggets” so to speak are entirely common sense. However you will also find that often they make more sense than anything. I am sure that you would never be guilty of not washing your hands after using the restroom, but this post is for all of those other people. Perhaps this is a good one to refer to someone you know that might be a bit slack in the hand washing  department.

If you work for a company that has common restrooms that are shared between guests and employees it is very critical that you appear to the guest to be overly clean when you are using the restroom. I have spoken of Ralph Lawrence before, my training Manager and GM with McDonald’s. He was always giving me advice that I found myself passing on to others that worked for me. One time I came out of the restroom and was putting on my gloves. He pulled me aside and asked me if I had washed my hands. I told him I not only washed them I didn’t touch the handle when I came out of the restroom. He then told me, “Once fir them and twice for us.” I looked at him like he had two heads, as I often did when he would say something pithy, and he proceeded to explain. I was told that it was good for anyone who was in the restroom to see me wash my hands, and he praised me for it. Then he mentioned it was always a good idea to do it again where managers and others would see you so that everyone knows you did so. That made a lot of sense to me. You want to always give the appearance that the guest and their food is the most important thing to you.

How you appear to them is very important, and trust me, the one time you don’t it will get noticed somewhere. I can think of several occasions that staff members have dealt with documentations or possibly termination because the guest saw something that the staff member saw as inconsequential.

Pardon the expression, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. As Forrest Gump would say, “and that’s all I have to say about that.”

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Makin the Old Man Proud – Keys to Impress Your Boss

It’s the weekend and I am posting this Blog article. I wouldn’t want you to get caught reading helpful information while you are on the clock. This post may be relatively short because it really is just common sense. However, so often it’s just a matter of following simple steps that shows  your worth to the company you work for that you are more than just a body in a spot. The majority of the people who read the first two sentences of this post and click away are those people you may pass up for a promotion someday because you hung in there. I promise, it won’t take long.

Since it’s the weekend enjoy this example of exactly what I won’t be talking about in this post

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Bus Staff, Concessions Workers, Hosts, and Maintenance this one may ring true for you. Some may think that these are some areas in a company that you would make the least amount of impact to those who  visit your establishment. I want to tell you that this is the furthest thing from the truth. While your pay rate may not be the highest it can be a stepping stone to some place you want to go. The person who learns everything there is about their job and does the best at it they possibly can will get noticed. I can’t think of the number of times I have wished as a server that there had been an effective and well engaged Host  at the front. Some may think that is a very easy job – I have even heard it referred to as Monkey Work, but to be really effective there it takes skill and an ability to see the big picture to make you really great at this task. How many people would think a guy who sells Hot Dogs at a baseball game could move up in the world? Do you know how many people you brush up against in life when you do that kind of work. If you are good at what you do; opportunities will happen.

Look Up

This one is going to get under your skin just a bit, and I am sorry. The person who is the most important while you are in a service oriented position is the person right in front of you. They aren’t on your cell phone, and they won’t be the server that is trying to flirt with you so you will give them more tables. The person you greet who walks through the door, or you see in the hallway when you are cleaning the room has the ability to really be an asset to you if you make them happy. A corporate praise can go a long way for you, and certainly a whole lot further than what a complaint will because they saw you smoking outside the building when the area around you is a disaster.  Refer to the Manager’s frustration  in the last post to understand my position.

Yes, I Can

You manager is often forced to be creative because he is in a pinch and you being willing to slide into something new is always going to work in your favor. Even if you really blow it, you were willing to try. A willingness to jump in will go a long way for you in anything you are involved in.

We didn’t have a guy to make salads on a busy night one evening and we asked a new host if he would step in. Well, that night we found out that the kid that was “filling in” was doing a better job than the guy who did it all the time. The fill in found him,self on the Expo line and now is a Server. Rob is a Diamond in the Rough. You never know what can happen.

Be On Time

I can think of so many times as a Manager that I would have really appreciated someone walking into the door that works for me when I got a sudden rush of business. It’s amazing how endearing you can become to your supervisor if you are there to bail him out. 15 minutes early is always appreciated.

The key to this one too is coming in prepared to work. In uniform and ready to clock on. A supervisor will grow tired of someone who clocks in before they put their coat away.

Smile, it’s the Best Part of Your Uniform

It’s amazing how much more what you have to say can change an impression if you smile. There are so many reasons why this is a good idea, and it’s so easy to do. Just take the opportunity and I assure you that it will make a difference in the people around you. I almost didn’t put this in because it seems so simple, but it’s essential. People like working with people who smile.

Like I said, this is a very short post and isn’t  Earth shattering information.The key here  is you need to do the common sense things because there are a lot of people who won’t. Keep it simple and stay true to the basics that will always be the best practice. Even if it doesn’t seem exciting, if you do your job with interest and grace it will reflect well on you at some point.

Thanks for reading!

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It’s All In How You Look At It

English: The original Piggly Wiggly Store, Mem...

English: The original Piggly Wiggly Store, Memphis, Tennessee. The first self service grocery store, opened 1916. Français : Le premier supermarché Piggly Wiggly ouvert en 1916 à Memphis, Tennessee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s five o’clock in the afternoon, and you just got off work. You have gone to the grocery store to get the one item you needed to finish dinner. After picking up your cart you see an immense stack of Coke strategically placed like the White House, and realized you needed a case of soda because it’s been a long day and you are thirsty. Then you turn the corner and you see all of these beautiful vegetables displayed and realized that you could make a great salad with just a couple more items. Rounding another corner you see dessert  peering through a little glass case at you, and of course that Angel Food cake would be great with some strawberriesand whipped cream. So, back to produce and on to the one thing you needed. Passing the meat counter you see fresh Porterhouse steaks displayed on sale, and “Shazam” you have tomorrow night’s main course. On each end cap is displayed amazing Little Debbie treats and Tortilla Chips.  Turning you go over to the aisle where the salsa is located because you really wanted a different brand. Now you have four more items and you are headed for that one thing… What was it? Oh yeah!  Get milk… Then that takes you past the ice cream, and then another display with sale wines. Excellent… Oh, now you see one of those “Chip Clips” hanging next to the wine. Turning around you see the new Sports Illustrated displayed on the magazine rack. Then before you get to the register you see a display of beef jerky and realize how hungry you have become. With the saltiness of the jerky you are going  to want a soda in the cooler, next to the jerky,  to wash that down. By the time you get through the register, the milk you came for just cost you 83.55, Does  it dawn on you then that you have just been cleverly outsmarted by technical genius of a grocery store team that you thought was well below your pay grade? No, but you do remember to pick up flowers for your wife on the way out so she won’t yell at you for getting the Little Debbie’s.

English: Little Debbie Zebra Cakes, made by Mc...

English: Little Debbie Zebra Cakes, made by McKee Foods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As a commissioned, or tipped, employee I would like to suggest that you need to take the “grocery store” approach to the services you provide. The key to a great haircut, meal, or outfit sale is to give your guest what they want while adding nuances along the way that will enhance their experience. We want them to walk away from that occasion in time knowing this was the best opportunity ever, and that they couldn’t duplicate it anywhere else with anyone else for that price.

When you introduce your customer to the menu they need to see all of the things that made your establishment special – your “Signature’s” so to speak. If it is a suit, they couldn’t have done it just right without one more really nice tie. In addition, the really needed the French Cuff shirts to set off the ensemble.Your job is to be aware of everything available to them with each option and then enhance their experience with such an option. Here’s the tough part – ready? You have to lay that suggestion in so softly they don’t notice they were just sold on it. They key is to never look hungry – like you need the sale, and never question in your mind whether they need something; – assume they do.

If the majority of the people that walk in have a set tip percentage in their mind then it is to your benefit to deliver the best experience at the optimum price point.

English: unrecognized dessert.

English: unrecognized dessert. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a trick for a server – It’s a bit of a Ninja maneuver – So, don’t let  just anyone try this. When you approach your table, before you get their drink order, introduce them to some of your favorite items. These items will be a little higher price point than the lower end items everyone else sells. Here’s what happens next. You get their drink order and are heading to the back to get their drinks. The time you are away works for you. Their mouth is now watering for the specialty Filet as opposed to the chopped steak they would normally be looking at. What just happened was you diverted their eyes from the inexpensive items and focused them with a laser fine gaze open the mouth watering top dollar steak. The time you have gone away has turned into time for that steak to melt into their braincells. Try it, and if you do it just right you will have them eating out of the palm of your hand, actually the best part of the menu the majority of the time.

The key to making money as a commissioned professional is to fully educate yourself with the items that are available to you and how to pair them with the accessories that are available with each item. You will find that the more tools you add to your toolbox the more prepared you are to to do specialty work in your job.

Always remember, most anyone can wait a table, or sell an outfit, but it takes a special person to create an experience.

Cheers!

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Keep Calm – They Go Back To Where They Came From – Part Two

In the last post I suggested that the ability to hold composure throughout stress and adversity in your job is key. It’s the ability to relax through the stress that wins you the opportunity to build relationship with your guests.

Whether you are a Server in a Restaurant, a Front Desk Agent in  a Hotel, or a Police Officer there are going to be instances when you are required to stare into the face of someone that is generally unhappy, and you will have to decide in a split second how to handle that situation. There are some key things to remember when this opportunity arises. Yes, I called it an opportunity. Danny DeVito said –

“In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.” 
The key to all of this is to remember that whatever is going on in front of you it probably isn’t about you. Initially you can take refuge in that fact because to a certain extent the pressure is off. The sweet thing about such a situation is it gives you an opportunity to do exactly what you are there for. I know that they may be there for food, or to return a blouse they don’t like; however, in most cases we get into service related fields to help people.

Take the incident from the last post where the guy had been chilly to me when I greeted him at the table. I guess something inside me made me give him a chance to vent in addition to getting the drink orders for him and his wife. He had an opportunity to tell me about his situation. I had recently lost my Grandmother at the time so it gave us both an opportunity to share a little through the process of the dinner. Long story short, it was a rewarding opportunity for both of us.

The other thing to remember is the big picture is always a baseline for you to fall back on. What I mean is, you aren’t the case of this problem, and in many cases you generally have a supervisor to assist you if you have any questions. Regardless you have opportunities to make a bigger impression that your position sometimes presents. There is also another f actor to this bigger picture concept. It can benefit you to be considerate. There is a Nicholas Cage movie called, “It Could Happen to You” that is a story about a Police Officer who offers to split lottery winnings in lieu of a tip. Monetary rewards don’t always come and I suppose I would hope that wouldn’t be the expectation, but you never know what can happen. I did receive a very nice tip from the couple I took care of and they also gave me a great review to my manager. To be honest, seeing the guy and his wife leave smiling and knowing I may have helped some was a really big thing to me.

Regardless of what you are faced with people are generally always faced with stuff as well.  Opportunities come in all shapes and sizes, and we need to remember that to keep perspective on the big picture. Know that whatever is in front of you that looks like it can get ugly probably has little to do with you. Shine, and show those people that see darkness there is hope.

Keep Calm – They Go Back To Where They Came From – Part One

I am sorry in advance, but this may be one of the best excerpts from a movie to be used to show the flavor of what I am trying to get across in this post. I will warn you it’s not a G Rated edit; none of the cuts that were G Rated were edited cleanly. However this clip from Roadhouse may be one of my favorite training scenes for the Hospitality Industry. Enjoy!

The one thing that you will find out in the Hospitality Industry is that not every guest that you deal with will have an appealing personality; as a matter of fact, they may be nasty and crass at best. This presents a couple of potential dynamics that you have to deal with. The first thing that can easily occur is you can let that customer cast a tone upon the experience that you may find yourself mirroring shortly thereafter. In addition to that, you may find it has a tendency to taint your disposition for part or even all of your shift. If you aren’t careful it can even bleed over into the rest of your week. These are issuers that you need to learn to tackle to keep it from getting into your mind and eventually your money.Part of being really good in the  Service Industry is being able to shine when those situations arise.

This is such an important subject I am going to cover different aspects over the next post as well. In this post we are going to talk about your guest and their demeanor. This might give you some insight into the myriad of reasons you may be getting bombarded with a cold chill from that icy guest.

Did You Get the Number of That Truck?

I remember walking up to a table and introducing myself. Most days I have no problem keeping a smile on my face when I greet my guest, but this time I was blindsided by a snappy tome. When I asked how they were that evening they said, “You  don’t want to know.”  I was a bit taken aback and could have just tried to get a drink order and let it go; I am sure that the uncomfortable feeling would have ended as soon as they left. I opted for the other option and I simply responded, “If I didn’t want to know, I wouldn’t have asked.” Turns out this guy had just lost his Dad in a horrible accident and they had just dealt with that fiasco. In addition to that their car had broken down on route so they were dealing with that as well. They had a horrible few days and he was taking it all particularly roughly.

In Branson, as in many Tourist destinations, people get great deals on vacations from a Vacation Club or Time Share organization. Being in that industry in the past giving Front-Line tours I know that you work someone fort 90 minutes to earn the next 90 minutes. The guest that sits down at your table may have been the proud recipient  of one of these touContemporary rendering of a poster from the Un...rs and unbeknownst to him he also had the opportunity to sit for three hours or more through this 90 minute tour only to be told he didn’t love his wife and family enough to give them wonderful vacations, and that his Grand kids didn’t deserve such a legacy. With this being said, the mini-vacation he thought he was giving to his family may have just become an attack on his manhood in general.

What about the lady who uses the restroom before she comes through the lobby and drops her cell phone in the toilet, and then when she stands to retrieve it the automated flushing mechanism sucks her valuable communication device into oblivion? (Yes, this did happen while I worked for Olive Garden in Branson, MO) Talk about crappy reception.

There are two things you will find in all of these examples. First, these were all horrible experiences. Next, none of this was your fault. This is something I want you to carry with you into part two. In the post that follows we are going to deal with your side of the equation and how it all factors out for you in the end.  Maybe it isn’t quite the cliffhanger you are looking for, but I hope you will find part two helpful.

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The Journey To Great Experiences

Servicelogo

Great Experiences Don’t Often Happen By Accident

The journey can be just as sweet as the destination if you take the time to enjoy the sensations and nuances that make the experience amazing. That’s why I have created this Blog. I work in a town in the Hospitality Industry that is known for great experiences. Individuals and families come to Branson, Missouri to see and feel things they don’t feel in their everyday life. People spend tons of money to see shows that will make them forget what may have been going on at home and give them something to remember for years to come. In a town where building memories is so important to people it’s sometimes very surprising that the people who work in the Hospitality Industry in Branson don’t always seem aware of that big picture. Of course, we all want to make money, but even more importantly the key to making that money is helping people to really enjoy their experience.

I am devoting this Blog to the Service Professional that wants to bring their game to the next level, or feel they have something to offer in what they do. I don’t know everything and I am counting on the feedback of the audience of this Blog to assist me on this Journey. I am going to use examples I have experienced to point out aspects of this and I am hoping it will become a springboard to your sharing of great experiences you will have as well. In addition to that I may at times point out some of the other opportunities I have had to witness some experiences that were not so great, not to embarrass those making the mistakes, but to help us all learn. Please feel free to interact with me in this process so that we can all take this journey together and enjoy the ride.

Much of my experience in service has been in the Hospitality Industry has been in Restaurants, and Hotels. I would hope that this Blog will be something anyone in the Service Industry can use with a little application tweaking to make it fit their given situation. I have done stints in other areas of occupation in my life and so I am hoping I can find a practical middle ground for those working in Hospitals, Grocery Stores, or even Ministry. Again, this is going to be where you come in; I will need your input to make that an even better offering as time passes.My vision is something that will help us all get better, and I am looking forward to seeing how this develops and what stories may arise through the course of time to follow.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this Blog; it is my pleasure to serve you with this vehicle your great service experiences.