The Rules of Serving: Rules One and Two

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Rule One:  If you worry about the guest, the money will take care of itself.

 

Rule Two:  If you worry about the money, the guests will not take care of themselves.

 

Rules one and two are corollaries of the same basic principle.  Your focus as a server must be on the guest and not the money.  We all know that the reason for serving is to make money.  No one should pretend they are altruistic enough to wait tables 40 hours a week just for the fun.  At the same time, the key to making money is to not focus on making the money, but the process by which you make it.  Focusing on the guest is the key to insuring that at the end of the shift you have made the money you want.

There is no denying that focusing on the guest can still lead to disappointment. The odds of you making what you need are infinitely more in your favor though if you focus on the guest first and the money second.  The only thing you can do to control how much you make is to make every guest as happy as you can.  Guest counts, guest spending, and the amount the guest leaves are beyond your control.  Instead focus on the guests and trust that it is the best way to make the money work out in your favor.

Here are three commonly violated guidelines to keep your money on track:

Never Count Tips Until The End: This is a terrible habit some servers practice that I will deal with in greater length in a future post.  Early tables tend to tip a lower percentage than later tables.  Do not let these tables affect you attitude going into your more lucrative second turn.  While you still have tables in the restaurant, you have not been paid for all of your effort.  Until all you tables are gone you do not have an accurate reflection of how much you will make.  In addition, nothing good ever comes of checking the tip while the guest is still in the building.

Never Set Monetary Goals: I have seen many servers make this mistake.  If you set a goal on a shift of $100, then making $90 is still a failure.  Likewise making $110 will leave you with “extra” money.  This mentality leads you to be more upset about coming up short and less likely to save the “extra.”  Instead set goals for the week or month.  This way a $90 shift is balanced out by the $110 shift.

Never Let Need Affect Your Attitude: As I said earlier, the only thing you can control is the quality of service you give your guests.  The most important factor in this is your attitude.  Being discouraged by early tables or fear of not hitting a goal will show in your service.  Each table should be treated as the key to your income.  This prevents any one table from being the final table you need.  Instead of relying on that last table to make your night, focus on each table along the way.  This will leave you in a much better position when dropping that last check.

The guests must come first in your rriorities.  The guests did not come in to tip you.  They came in for a great dining experience.  Only by providing that can you expect to be compensated in the way you want to be.  Focus on the guests first and remember they are the key to your income.  You will be pleasantly surprised with how the night turns out.

Related Posts:

Budgeting for Servers

The Rules of Serving

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16 Responses to The Rules of Serving: Rules One and Two

  1. yellowcat May 12, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

    You are absolutely right about this.

    My most successful nights are when everyone tips at the register. That way I don’t see what they are leaving and I don’t get discouraged or mad about a $3 tip on a $100 ticket, which then transfers to my other tables. Likewise I don’t get cocky about a $30 tip on a $100 ticket. It would be nice to never even see any money until the end of the night.

  2. yellowcat May 12, 2010 at 5:23 pm #

    You are absolutely right about this.

    My most successful nights are when everyone tips at the register. That way I don’t see what they are leaving and I don’t get discouraged or mad about a $3 tip on a $100 ticket, which then transfers to my other tables. Likewise I don’t get cocky about a $30 tip on a $100 ticket. It would be nice to never even see any money until the end of the night.

  3. nativenapkin June 2, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    Just like in basketball: don’t get pumped up about making the 3’s, and you won’t be so mad about the occasional air-ball. Your job is to serve; it’s not who you are, it’s just what you do.

    Here’s my take on it:
    http://sorrynotmytable.com/2009/10/08/im-rubber-youre-glue/

  4. nativenapkin June 2, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    Just like in basketball: don’t get pumped up about making the 3’s, and you won’t be so mad about the occasional air-ball. Your job is to serve; it’s not who you are, it’s just what you do.

    Here’s my take on it:
    http://sorrynotmytable.com/2009/10/08/im-rubber-youre-glue/

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