Problem Customers: How To Handle Them So That Your Boss Takes Notice

Problem Customers: How To Handle Them So That Your Boss Takes Notice

Customer service is a huge part of the restaurant business, and front-of-house restaurant employees need to keep their people skills sharp to stay ahead in this business. Particularly, you will want to practice dealing with problematic customers. Your shift manager will appreciate your ability to deal with these folks and diffuse tense situations because they can focus on other things. Here are a few tips for dealing with problem customers.

1. Graceful Conversation Enders

Some customers don’t mean to be in the way, but they are overly friendly. They think the waiter is a captive audience or that ‘waitress’ is another word for ‘date.’ Since you are actually working and can’t spend all day listening, you will have to come up with a polite sentence or two that lets you leave the chatterbox.

Some good ones: “That’s great, I’ll have to tell my co-workers. Excuse me.” And, “You know, that is fascinating, but I had better get you your drinks now.”

What are some of your best conversation enders? Let us know on twitter @gosirvo

2. Resolving Customer Complaints

I should clarify: a customer who brings a problem to your attention isn’t immediately problematic. It’s best to take the attitude that any complaint is genuine and serious. Always respond to a complaint with an apology and an offer of a solution to their complaint.

It’s best to give them the impression that you are taking it seriously. Ideally, you are taking it seriously, even if it seems trivial to you. Practice letting them finish their complaints and paraphrasing what you heard them say before giving your own reply. This ensures that you know the problem they want to fix, and it lets them know that you really understood their position. Sometimes just allowing someone to vent and feel heard can solve whatever their complaint was!

Practice looking attentive and not crossing your arms while you listen. Body language can speak volumes to an annoyed customer.

3. Practice Keeping Calm

Develop a mantra for when you are faced with an angry customer that reminds you that everyone sometimes has a bad day and that the complaint isn’t an attack on you. Practice keeping your voice low and calm while talking people through solutions. Your keeping your cool will keep things from escalating.

Additionally, people who are ornery by nature get off on seeing others flustered. Don’t give them the satisfaction.

4. Have A List Of Potential Solutions Handy

Customers who are having a bad time tend to collect complaints until their minor irritation snowballs into general hatred. To the extent that is possible, have a list of potential solutions to potential complaints in your apron pocket so that you can head off the snowball. Typically a free drink or discount coupon will suffice.

There will be times when you won’t be able to do something to head off a complaint. In those situations, it is helpful to have a script that you memorize to explain the situation. Practice calmly saying something such as, “I’m sorry, but we are out of…” and you will be able to clearly communicate your position. This can sometimes be enough to calm a customer.

5. Follow Up On Complaints

Customers want to be treated as individuals, and they want to feel like you personally care about whether they are having a good time. Take a few moments to check in on the especially grouchy to make sure that the solution you offered worked and that they are now in a happier frame of mind.

6. Know When To Call In The Big Guns

All these steps are ways to avoid having to pull in the manager to deal with a customer, but it is sometimes unavoidable. Your manager would rather step in before things get out of hand.

  • If you spilled something on a customer (we’ve all been there) and have potentially ruined not only their clothing but also their night… it’s best to call in a manager.
  • If a customer is insisting that you break a restaurant policy, get a manager. If he or she decides to bend the rules, you aren’t in trouble.
  • If a customer seems to be threatening or is clearly inebriated, the restaurant would prefer that you call for help in getting him or her out of there before the other customers get annoyed.

Knowing how to handle the particularly difficult FOH situations will help you stand out for your boss and further you in your restaurant career. Follow these tips to really impress with your people skills.


11 Summer Movie Themed Cocktails to Brighten Your Booze Menu

11 Summer Movie Themed Cocktails to Brighten Your Booze Menu

Summer movie hits are rolling in and so are thirsty patrons looking something fresh and new at the bar. Have some fun with this Summer’s movie themes and create cocktails inspired by feisty heroines, brooding heroes, aliens, and emojis.

1. Wonder Woman

Strong and sweet. Feminine, but not to be taken lightly!

  • 1 1/2 oz White rum
  • 1/2 oz Brandy
  • 1/2 oz Triple sec
  • 1/2 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • Long strip lemon peel to serve – golden lasso of truth!

Combine in a shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into martini glass or a blue glass tumbler. Serve with a lemon lasso garnish!

2. Alien: Covenant

Use charcoal infused tequila to make this black as space cocktail.  Add 2 tbsp of activated charcoal powder to a full bottle of tequila and shake to make.

  • 1 1/2 oz Charcoal-infused tequila
  • 1 1/2 oz St-Germain
  • 3/4 oz Lime juice
  • Two dashes of orange bitters
  • Three sprays of a smokey scotch to finish

Combine first four in a shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into a tumbler with ice. Spritz with scotch before serving.

3. The Emoji Movie

This cocktail looks exactly like the classic cocktail emoji icon!

  • 2 oz Cachaça 51
  • 1/2 oz Orange juice
  • 1 oz Passion fruit juice
  • 1/2 oz Grenadine
  • Lime and cherry on pick for garnish

Pour grenadine into a hurricane glass and top with crushed ice. Combine Cachaça 51, orange and passion juice into a shaker with ice. Shake. Pour over ice. Garnish with lime wedge and cherry.

4. Spider-Man: Homecoming

Spiderman may be in high school, but the rest of us can still drink! Layer this colorful cocktail to get those classic Spidey colors.

  • 1/2 oz Curaçao blue
  • 1 oz Vodka
  • Splash of seltzer
  • 1/2 oz Grenadine
  • A wedge of lime
  • Cherry to serve

Rim a tall glass with lime. Pour in the grenadine then fill with large ice cubes. Slowly add vodka, then seltzer and top with blue curacao. Squeeze lime over top and garnish with a cherry.

5. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Island feel with a cheeky kick!

  • 1 1/2 oz Coconut rum
  • 1/2 oz Banana schnapps
  • 1/2 oz Peach schnapps
  • 1/2 oz Cranberry juice (not juice cocktail)
  • 1/2 oz Fresh orange juice
  • 2 oz Fresh pineapple juice
  • Pineapple on sword pick to serve

Combine first three into a shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into highball glass with ice and top with juices in the order listed for a sunset effect. Garnish with pineapple sword. Yo ho ho!

6. Atomic Blond

Looks sweet and unassuming in the glass. Little do they know…

  • 2 oz Rye whiskey
  • 1⁄2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
  • 1⁄2 oz Sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 dash Orange bitters
  • Lemon twist to garnish

Combine a mixing glass over ice. Stir. Strain int a chilled whiskey glass. Garnish with lemon.

7. The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Because Samuel L. Jackson would just order whiskey, but Ryan Reynolds needs it with a bit of a flair!

  • 2 oz Whiskey
  • 1/2 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz Canada Dry ginger ale

Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice. Add ingredients in order listed. Done and done.

8. Baby Driver

A chocolaty twist on the classic White Russian. Chocolate milk for the kid, liquor for the adults.

  • 6 oz Cold chocolate milk
  • 1 1/2 oz Vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz Kahlúa
  • Mini brownie bite to garnish

Combine in a shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into a pint glass with ice. Cut part way into the brownie and settle on edge of glass to garnish.

9. The Dark Tower

Light on the bottom; looming dark on top.

  • 2 oz Dark rum
  • 3/4 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz Spiced simple syrup
  • Cherry with stem to garnish

Combine lemon juice and syrup into shaker with lots of ice. Shake. Strain into highball glass with fresh ice. Float rum on top. Garnish with cherry.

10. Despicable Me 3

Everyone’s favorite little yellow Minion buddies – in cocktail form. Perfect for parents who need a pick me up after hearing “minion-speak” all day!

  • 1/5 oz Absinthe
  • 1/5 oz Whiskey
  • 1/5 oz Gin
  • 1/5 oz Vodka
  • 1/5 oz Cinnamon Schnapps

Combine in shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into shot glass or tumbler with fresh ice.

11. Transformers: The Last Night

In honor of Optimus Prime, friend or foe?

  • 1/2 oz Raspberry vodka
  • 1/2 oz Watermelon Schnapps
  • 1/2 oz Peach Schnapps
  • 1 Splash Grenadine
  • 4 oz Lemon-lime soda
  • 1 oz Sweet and sour mix
  • 1/4 oz Blue Curaçao Fill

Fill tall glass with ice. Layer ingredients in order listed topping up with ice before adding soda as needed. Add the Blue Curacao carefully so as not to lose the layers! Serve with a straw.

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5 Key Reasons Not to Pocket Tips When You Should Be Splitting Them

5 Key Reasons Not to Pocket Tips When You Should Be Splitting Them

When you work in a bar or restaurant where tips are split, it’s critical to the entire functionality of the restaurant environment that you continue to split your tips fairly. Sure, it’s frustrating. You could be having a great night, completely on, while your coworker is struggling to get the simplest drink order right. You could be carrying a heavier load than your coworkers, and therefore receiving more tips as a result. Those are your tips, and you’ve earned them. If the policy at your establishment is that tips are split, however, it’s critical that you split them as required. Pocketing tips, no matter how well-deserved you think they are, is unacceptable behavior–and there are some very good reasons why.

1. Your workplace environment is built on trust. Check out this reddit thread about a bartender who chose to pocket tips instead of sharing them evenly with her coworkers. Even a suspicion that you’re pocketing tips can lead to distrust among your coworkers. Get caught doing it, and you’ll find yourself ostracized and distrusted–or worse.

2. Tip sharing builds teamwork. Everyone has a bad night occasionally. Maybe you’ve had the longest day on record, you haven’t been feeling your best, or family drama hit just before you came into work. Perhaps it’s just one of those shifts when you feel as though you can’t get anything right: just remembering drink orders is a huge challenge, much less anything more complicated. When those days happen, you desperately want you coworkers to pick up the slack for you–and may even need it in order to keep your establishment running as smoothly as it needs to run. Tip sharing encourages an atmosphere of camaraderie: all of you work together to keep the customers as happy as possible because each table has an influence on the tips you take home at the end of the night.

3. You don’t always get a choice in your customers. Some customers are naturally great tippers. Perhaps they’ve worked in a service job themselves, or maybe they just have a great sense of empathy for people who work in the industry. Whatever the case, even if they receive sub-par service, they’re still likely to leave a decent tip. Others, on the other hand, cling tightly to every dollar and won’t leave a great tip even if they receive the best service of the night. You can’t control which customers come your way, but a section full of poor tippers can completely ruin your night! On the other hand, across the course of the night, good and bad tippers tend to even out, so sharing your tips helps keep your income steadier.

4. It’s unethical. You want to have a reputation for integrity, especially if you commonly work with money. One of the fastest ways to destroy that reputation is to fail to put your contribution into the tip jar. Keep in mind that when you leave at the end of the night, you’re getting a percentage of your coworkers’ tips. As a result, you owe them the same percentage of yours.

5. It could cost you your job. If you’re pocketing your tips instead of putting them in the communal tip jar as company policy dictates, you’re stealing from your coworkers. In most restaurants and bars, stealing from the company is grounds for immediate termination. There’s no way around it: pocketing tips is stealing. It could quickly result in you not having a job to pocket tips from. All things considered, at the end of the night, it’s probably not worth it for the little bit of extra money you’re able to get from it.

Seeing your hard-earned tips make their way into a communal jar can be disheartening. It’s less disheartening, however, to realize that when great tips come in, it doesn’t matter who was in charge of the table. Everyone in the bar or restaurant benefits! Don’t give into the temptation to slide your tips into your own pocket instead of adding them to the communal jar. In the end, it’s not worth it.

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What Is TIPS Training, And Should You Get It?

What Is TIPS Training, And Should You Get It?

Restaurants often make the most profit from serving alcohol, but it’s a high risk/ high reward sort of situation. You don’t want your establishment to get into trouble for serving alcohol to minors or causing car accidents. You also don’t want to deal with the downside of intoxicated guests. Knowing this, a company called Training for Intervention Procedures, or TIPS, set up a certification program to teach employees of most liquor license holders to deal with those risks.

The 35-year old program covers the legal responsibilities of establishments, the effects of alcohol on people, and various customer-friendly ways to provide alcohol service in a responsible manner. It covers identifying IDs and intoxication. It also gives you a chance to practice some ways of dealing with real-life scenarios.

There are quite a few states, such as Maryland and New Mexico, that require liquor licensees have someone associated with that license trained in responsible alcohol serving and have a certificate from that training. That said, not all municipalities have this requirement, and some places, such as Texas and Maine, have voluntary programs. It can come down to the personal preference of an owner in other municipalities, such as much of California.

Keeping customers from getting intoxicated keeps your place of business comfortable for all your guests and shows that you care about their safety.

There are a couple of benefits of taking the TIPS or similar training programs. Your employees will gain confidence in dealing with intoxicated guests. They will have some ideas about how to control the environment so that the drinking doesn’t get out of hand. Keeping customers from getting intoxicated keeps your place of business comfortable for all your guests and shows that you care about their safety.

It is always good to have refreshers about the rules involved in serving alcohol. There are a few kinds of liabilities that could apply to your establishment, and they vary from location to location. Does your city have social host laws, where you can be held liable for injury to an intoxicated guest if the alcohol is served improperly? Is there criminal charges you could be liable to? You want to keep track of these types of rules. They change sometimes, and the people evading the rules evolve their techniques. Having employees at least occasionally take courses in responsible alcohol service can keep you on the safe side of the law. Should something untoward happen to an intoxicated customer or a minor trying to get drinks, you can point to the program as a sign that you had done your due diligence, as well.

Having employees at least occasionally take courses in responsible alcohol service can keep you on the safe side of the law.

There are also insurance companies that give you discounts for having such a training program in place, and having a nationally-recognized certificate is an easy way to prove that your restaurant has an acceptably trained staff. Insurance companies like to know that at least one threat to the property is being controlled for.

All that said, TIPS charges $40 a person for online training, and they charge varying amounts for on site and off site classes, depending on location and trainer. Other programs will also charge you. You don’t want to be accused of cutting corners here, but at the same time, it’s a cost you have to weigh up.

Additionally, some places, such as Washington, have requirements for trainers and for responsible alcohol service training. Always check ahead of time to see if your municipality requires training and what type of certification they will accept. Many places let cities or counties decide on what they want, and they can be pretty restrictive. You don’t want to download the eTIPS program and later discover that your state doesn’t accept online certifications.

As you can see, whether you need to get someone TIPS certified will depend on your jurisdiction and your establishment’s needs. Keep the foregoing in mind, and you will be able to make an informed decision.

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Why You Should Never Hesitate To Cut Guests Off

Why You Should Never Hesitate To Cut Guests Off

If your establishment serves alcohol, you have experienced at least one drunk customer. He or she ordered drink after drink, getting louder and sloppier with each one, and you were faced with a dilemma. You wanted to keep the customer happy, and clearly you are there to provide what the customer asks for. However, the drunk customer quickly became a problem. When you are faced with this situation, you should never hesitate to cut a guest off, and here is why:

1. The Other Customers

In a seated restaurant, there are few things worse than sitting near a drunk and belligerent diner, unless it is sitting next to a drunk and over-friendly diner. They are loud and intrusive. Your other guests want to relax and not worry about the person next to them stumbling into them or getting into a shouting match. If your other guests are uncomfortable, they leave early, possibly not ordering things they normally would have.

They aren’t wrong to do this, either. Drunk guests present a danger to other people, knocking into them and starting fights. They also get into car accidents. Sober customers that drive will want to get out of the parking lot before the drunk guest gets in a car and drives into someone.

Your other guests want to relax and not worry about the person next to them stumbling into them or getting into a shouting match.

2. Your Waitstaff

Drunk guests are hard to serve, and the waitstaff’s job is hard enough. No one gets paid enough to clean up after someone who got sick from too much alcohol, fend off someone who is drunkenly hitting on them, or trying to help customers stumble out the door. There just isn’t enough money in the world to make up for dealing with that sort of thing all the time, and it can contribute to employees quitting.

3. Your Reputation

It never takes long for the locals to figure out where they can sit and imbibe all day. This attracts the type of guests who monopolize bar stools and scare away other paying customers.

People do not take their kids or parents to a restaurant where they think they will have to watch somebody drink themselves sick. They don’t want to take their dates places where they would be subjected to somebody tottering around drunkenly. It only takes a few bad apples to drive away people, and cutting off guests early keeps those bad apples in check.

It only takes a few bad apples to drive away people, and cutting off guests early keeps those bad apples in check.

4. The Customer’s Safety

With each drink, customers become more prone to accidents. They become more vulnerable to robbery and more prone to bad judgment. All this means that it isn’t just the other customers who are in danger when one customer gets drunk. The drinker could decide to drive home and get in an accident, they could drop glasses and cut themselves, or any number of bad scenarios.

5. Liability

Many states hold responsible the last person to serve alcohol to someone if that person gets into a car accident. The local law enforcement officers will track the driver’s movements until they reach the last establishment they were at and charge the restaurant or bar with overserving that person. That puts you in a world of legal hurt that you just don’t need.

Even if such rules were not on the books, a restaurant or bar is open to legal trouble when drunk guests act out. If the police are constantly showing up to deal with misbehaving guests, you are going to have some trouble renewing your liquor license. At the very least, the neighboring businesses and residents will give you grief. Your guests would be scaring away other business’s customers, after all, and we all rely on our neighbors sometimes.

These factors hurt your bottom line, hurt your community, and hurt your guests. Servers can avoid all of this by cutting a guest off before they drink themselves sick. It may be hard to stop filling a drunk customer’s order, but it is always the right thing to do.

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