The Rules of Serving: Rule Nine

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Rule Nine: Never Get Just One

Some of the most influential philosophers of the last five hundred years have done some of their greatest writing on the concept of a “social contract.”  Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Rawls, and many other have written at length on the subject.  The notion of a “social contract” pertains to the obligations that we as citizens and humans have to our government and fellow humans.  While these philosophers do not agree entirely on what the social contract entails, they all argue that such a contract exists. 

If there is a social contract for servers, the most basic tenet of it is expressed in rule nine.  Whenever you are getting an item you need that is out of stock in the place it should be, you should never get just one.  This goes beyond a simple courtesy.  This is a necessary function of a server to maintain the smooth operation of a restaurant and a shift.  In order to keep your shift moving efficiently, you must obey this rule.

The power of this concept is that it increases the efforts of each server exponentially.  Rather than simply moving quickly to get the items you need, taking the time to stock the items you need frees up time later in the shift.  Bringing out a dozen of the item you need will often mean that the item will be where you want it the next time you need it.  It will also lead to your co-workers being able to avoid making the same trip.  This is where the power of this rule begins to be apparent.

If you need a series of items at a side station, but one of them is not present you have two options.  You can grab one of the item you need or you can stock many of the item at the side station.  The first option leads to the other items you needed running out of stock at the side station.  This means on your next trip the first item you needed is still not there, but other items you need are also out of stock.  As this process continues, the amount of time you spend taking trips to get items you need take away from the service you can provide to your guests.  This is also made worse because your co-workers are forced to make the same trips.

When you take the time to stock the items you need many of the trips to the back can be avoided.  It also saves time for your co-workers.  This will often lead to them also stocking items rather than taking one trip at a time to the back.  As they follow this rule as well, trips to stock are minimized.  This leaves each server more time to spend taking care of their guests and maximizing their income.

This rule is an important part of rule seven: be the co-worker you want to have.  The effect is also very similar.  Choosing to lead by example will cause others to follow.  As you show the extra effort to help your co-workers, they will often provide you the same assistance.  The energies of a group of servers acting as a team will greatly exceed their individual efforts.  This will allow you to focus your energy where it belongs: your guests.

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