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.

 

Tips For Ensuring The Safety Of The Kitchen Staff

Tips For Ensuring The Safety Of The Kitchen Staff

Working in a kitchen is rewarding, but it does present some dangers. Between sharp knives, hot oil and crowded work conditions, you are daily risking your health. So, you want to stay in this job without injury for as long as possible. How do you do this? Well, it’s actually as simple as following some safety guidelines.

The Right Shoes

The first element in safety is equipment, and one of your most valuable pieces of equipment is your shoes. Invest in non-slip, comfortable work shoes that can take you standing in them all day. The non-slip part will prevent you from slipping on the inevitable spills that kitchens are notorious for. The comfortable part will spare your back, legs, and feet from stress injuries.

You will also want something that repels water, as standing in soggy shoes for hours after mopping up a spill threatens your toes with fungus. Such slip-resistant, water-resistant and comfortable shoes may take time to find and cost quite a bit when you find them, but the investment will save you a lot of money lost in time off and doctor’s bills later on.

Cover Your Arms

Hot water and hot oil flies in kitchens, and they can leave burns worse than actual fires. To limit the damage that hot oil splashing out of a pan and landing on your arm can do, wear sleeve protectors. These are cloth coverings that cover your wrist to your elbow. This will put an easily-removed barrier between you and the heat.

Find The First Aid Kit

Every restaurant should be equipped with a first aid kit that the kitchen staff can quickly access. Bandaging an injury immediately prevents infections and other future complications. If your kitchen doesn’t have a first aid kit or the one you have is running low, get one. An emergency could happen at any time, and you don’t want to be scrambling around for gauze in the middle of a shift.

Handle Knives Correctly (And Generally Be Aware Of Your Surroundings)

Remember what you learned about knife safety when you were learning to be a chef. Tuck your thumb under the hand you’re using to hold something still when cutting. Hand knives to people handle first (or put it in front of them handle first if possible.) Don’t run, especially not with sharp objects in your hands, and just be aware of your surroundings. Busy kitchens can get crowded and have lots of cutting edges. Don’t fall victim to them.

Change Up Your Tasks

People tend to associate injuries caused by repetitive motion with factories and offices, but any job that requires you to make the same motions over and over stresses the joints and muscles in your body. The stress causes inflammation which leads to pinched nerves, weakness and pain. The best way to avoid this is to change activities and give the stressed group of muscles a rest. Let the line cook take an afternoon off of frying to chop vegetables. Give the prep chef’s hands a break by letting them do the dishes. Variety is both the spice of life, and a dose of prevention in this case.

Watch The Heat

Kitchens get hot. Restaurant kitchens can get particularly hot because they are crowded and have sources of heat running all day long. They should be properly ventilated, with a screen door that allows hot air to leave and a fan to move the heat along. A line chef, of course, doesn’t have much control over that, but he or she can take along bottles of cool water to sip from throughout the day and dress in layers. Try to wear breathable clothes as much as possible, and make sure any ventilation available is on.

Every great job has its risks, but you can mitigate them with a little care. Follow these guidelines and you will enjoy a long, safe career in the food industry.

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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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7 of the Craziest Reasons People Have Been 86’d From Restaurants

7 of the Craziest Reasons People Have Been 86’d From Restaurants

If you have worked in the restaurant industry for long, you have likely encountered customers you would like to kick out. While working in a restaurant sometimes requires you to interact with annoying customers, sometimes kicking people out is completely justified. Consider these seven reasons customers have been 86’d from restaurants as shared on a Reddit thread and through a Quora discussion.

1. A customer was stealing tips off tables when the wait staff were not watching. The thief may have continued to get away with this, but he proceeded to brag about his actions while he was at another restaurant. The owner of the original restaurant was dining at the same restaurant where the thief was bragging about his actions. The thief was then no longer allowed to dine at the restaurant where he had been stealing tips.

2. Several customers ordered three pitchers of beer, which they enjoyed over a 3-hour period while playing pool. One of the men puked in a pitcher and then poured it into a nearby plant. The restaurant, known for their live plants, proceeded to have the man leave.

3. The boss’s girlfriend walked into the restaurant to find her boyfriend talking to a waitress. The girlfriend assumes her boyfriend and the waitress are sleeping together. She spray paints the waitress’ vehicle and smashes the windows in the waitress’ car. While the woman was kicked out of the restaurant, interestingly enough, the relationship was not over yet.

4. A woman, who was apparently racist and did not like immigrants got mad when she found the wait staff were immigrants. When she later returned to the restaurant, she was told they would not serve her since they were immigrants and she hated them.

5. Two young men walked into a bar already drunk. They were being loud, and getting up in the faces of some of the other customers. The bar owner gave each guy a glass of water, telling them he would not serve them anymore alcohol and that they needed to leave the other customers alone. Instead of obeying the bar owner’s instructions, the two men started threatening him. They were quickly thrown out. About half an hour later, the two young men threw a rock through the glass on the front door. They ended up spending the night in jail and having to pay for the damage to the window.

6. A man who had been kicked out of a previous restaurant for grabbing a server’s butt came into a restaurant with his wife and kids. Knowing what had happened, he was politely asked to leave. When he got angry, the Sous chef, clearly stated, for his wife and children to hear, what he had done to get kicked out of the previous restaurant, thereby embarrassing the man and ensuring he knew exactly why he was being asked to leave.

7. A man ate a large meal and had been drinking white Russians for two and a half hours. When he was asked about paying for them, he made an excuse about making a phone call, but he instead slipped out. One of the workers thought he recognized the “dine and dasher” from online mugshots. After a ten-minute search, it was discovered that the man was a sex offender and serial “dine and dasher.” He was arrested an hour later, and his picture continues to hang on the wall of the restaurant, warning employees to not serve the man again.

Of course, there are many other reasons that someone might be asked to leave a restaurant. When deciding if you should kick someone out of your restaurant, it is important to consider the safety of your staff as well as other customers. The lack of respect for staff or customers should also be considered.

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Creative Beer Marketing Ideas

Creative Beer Marketing Ideas

Beer is now more popular than ever. Whether you’re selling the latest craft beer or traditional leading brands, people are consuming beer in bars, restaurants, breweries, festivals, and off the shelf at supermarkets and specialty stores. This also means, however, that there’s more competition than ever. How do you stand apart and sell more of your own products? Here are some innovative beer marketing strategies you can use to outsell the competition.

Tell a unique story.

As you learn in Marketing 101, most people make buying decisions emotionally rather than rationally. This is more true of beer than many other products. People drink beer to relax, unwind, and have fun. Think of the most popular beer commercials run by industry giants such as Budweiser. They don’t give you a list of ingredients or describe the brewing process. They tell stories that show how much fun everyone is having while drinking their beer. Each beer has a slightly different ideal narrative that varies according to your target audience. Do you want to cultivate an image that’s hip and youthful, salt-of-the-earth, or upscale and sophisticated? In all of your marketing efforts, focus on telling stories that will appeal to your demographic.

Partner with influencers.

Influencer marketing involves getting well-known people, especially those with large social media followings, to recommend your products. This is more subtle than hiring a celebrity for a TV or radio commercial. You want to find people who genuinely like the kind of beer you’re selling and who are highly regarded in the world in which your customers live. You don’t need A-list celebrities to do this effectively. Focus on people who are locally known in realms such as food, entertainment and, naturally, beer. Connect with influencers at tastings or festivals whenever possible. Reach out to them by offering them samples of your products. Once you’ve connected, think of ways to partner with them.

Connect with influencers at tastings or festivals whenever possible. Reach out to them by offering them samples of your products. Once you’ve connected, think of ways to partner with them. For example, you could help promote them on your own website. To be able to arrange mutually beneficial partnerships, it helps to build up your own website traffic and social media following, which we’ll discuss shortly. Even without this, however, it’s possible to get an influencer to recommend your beer if he or she really likes it.

Connect with your audience online.

Because beer is so hip now, it’s relatively easy to connect with internet savvy customers who like your products. There are many ways to do this, including SEO for your website, social media, and email marketing. Here are a few basic ideas to keep in mind.

  • Make sure you have a compelling website. Add content, such as blog posts, images and videos regularly. While this sounds time-consuming, if you devote a few minutes every day to posting at least one piece of content, your site will soon have plenty of content for the search engines and your audience to discover.
  • Be active on social media. Choose a couple of sites to focus on. A Facebook page is an important tool for building your brand. If you’re targeting youthful customers, Snapchat is a great way to reach them. Post fun and interactive content, such as coupons for your beer, contests, and information about upcoming promotions.
  • Build a mailing list. An email list, which you can promote on your website and social media pages, is a powerful way to engage with your audience. When you have people’s email addresses, it’s easy to blast out messages whenever you want to promote a sale, new product, or event.

These are just some of the ways to stay in touch with your customers and prospects. With increasing interest in beer, people are eager to learn about the latest products, news, and trends in this industry. Reach out to your audience using a variety of methods, from live events to social media. Find out where your customers get their information and make sure you’re active on these platforms. 

 

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Lessons from Las Vegas

Lessons from Las Vegas

In the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, it’s important to refresh yourself and your staff on the best practices that have been in place for many years.

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